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How to Help a Child Calm Down

by Naomi

Children can become distressed for many reasons – some of which are incomprehensible to adults – and it’s important that adults understand how to help a child calm down.

Time alone:

Many families use the ‘naughty step’ technique. This works for some but not for others. Sometimes trying new phrases can be beneficial such as ‘do you think you want some time alone?’ This gives them a chance to calmly reflect on the situation and allow them to have a breather rather than pointing the finger at  a lonely corner. They will appreciate the option and hopefully teaching them to remove themselves from a heated situation in the future.

Slow counting:

Give them an animal to use after each number such as ‘one elephant… two elephants, three elephants’ sooner or later this will draw attention to their number counting and extract their angry feelings. It’s a good method to keep them distracted and a way to infuse their frustration.

Rate of anger:

Talk to them, ask them how serious the problem is? Let them rate the problem out of 10. For example, separating it to three sets of levels such as low levels (0, calm; 2, irritated), medium levels (5, cross) and high levels (9, very angry). You can explain to your child their changes in their body language to help them recognise when they are becoming angry through their body language. This motivates your child to look for angry signs to calm these feeling and to reduce the anger.

Relax:

We all have different ways of relaxing from yoga to cooking but here are some suitable ways for children to release their anger.

Robot and rag doll:

This technique is beneficial for children to ease their muscle tension. Firstly, ask them to act like a robot for 20 seconds then get them to act like a rag doll with losing arms and legs. Requires them to feel like ‘jelly’ for another 20 seconds… let’s hope it lasts at least until the end of the day!

Deep breathing:

It’s one of the most common techniques because of how effective it is. This involves by taking a deep breath and holding it in for 3 seconds; gently breathing out for a further 3 seconds. Repeating both motions until your child induces back to a calm and relax state of mind again.

Visualise:

Every child loves to use their imagination! This is a perfect opportunity for them to use it. You can do this in a comfortable environment where there isn’t too much noise. Ask them to imagine somewhere scenic and relaxing using the five senses: how they feel, what they hear, what they see, what they touch and taste. Let your child imagine a peaceful and happy place such as by the beach hearing the soft waves gently touching the shore. The experience should finish with a positive view of their surroundings.

Listening to a song:

Listening to calming music can help soothe emotions. A fun activity could be to allow them to make a playlist of their top 10 songs. Perhaps you could play soothing music in the background when they come back from school; subconsciously placing them in a relaxed state. TIP: According to Dr. David Lewis-Hodgson listening to the song Weightless reduced 65% in anxiety and 35% in their bodily resting rates.

Make a poster:

Remind them of ways they can calm down by creating a poster!

Share your comments on what works best for your children.

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