Regulating emotions can be difficult for any child, those with more of a natural inclination to anger can have an especially difficult time. It is our job as parents to find ways to not only help them calm down when becoming upset, but to help them learn to calm themselves in any given situation. Let's face it, a large part of parenting is preparing our kids to be on their own in school for a majority of the day. Here are my tips for calming the angry child, followed by some ways you can help your kids calm themselves down ANYWHERE. These tactics will give them not only skills, but also the confidence, to navigate their anger on their own.
The 5 Tips
1. Be sympathetic. What seems unimportant for you might be hugely important for them. When your toddler cries because she wanted blue socks and you gave her red, we think to ourselves, "what's the big deal?". It is important to always validate their emotions, not negate them. If they find value and importance in something, it won't do any good to tell them that their understanding of importance is incorrect.
2. Give space, but don't isolate. Children with an inclination toward anger will often have an inclination toward physical aggression. Providing outlets for this such as punching a pillow or squeezing a blanket will help relieve this tension. A calm down corner provides an appropriate outlet for this aggression. Your child might not like to feel isolated from the family or from you when upset, but a bit of space can be a good thing.
3. Remind them that anger is ok. Emotions are a normal part of our development, and we experience a range of them every day. It is perfectly fine to get mad, to become angry. Any consequences that you provide for your child while they are upset should always be for behaviors, not for the emotion.
4. Don't over-react. Model a calm voice and a calm demeanor. (Yes, easier said than done.) The calmer you are, the better chance you have of your child calming down. Conversely, any yelling or aggression will most likely be matched by your child.
5. Listen with eye contact. Children need to feel heard, especially when upset. Eye contact dramatically helps them feel that way. Allowing them to talk about how they are feeling will help make leaps and bounds toward calming down.
8 Ways Kids Can Calm Themselves Down Anywhere
1. Count to five. Counting is a great way for kids to learn how to stop and think before reacting to their anger.
2. Take a deep breath. Deep breathing is a great relaxation technique that can help them quickly calm their bodies.
3. Blow into your hands. By blowing into their hands rather than into the air, the child receives feedback from the deep breath.
4. Place hands in pockets. This provides kids with deep pressure and physical restraint.
5. Acknowledge antecedents to anger. It is important for kids to realize and take note of what happens to their body before becoming angry.
6. Make a fist, then relax the hand. Squeezing hands into a fist and then releasing the pressure is a great way to let go of built up tension in the body.
7. Do a body scan. Starting at the head and working down the body, encourage children to release tense areas.
8. Ask for a hug. Find someone you love and hug it out.
Katie is a mom of three and self-proclaimed lover of creative and imaginative play. She has a Master's degree from New York University in Educational Psychology and a background working in special education. As a work-from-home mom, she balances everyday life with her three young kids and the endless search for her identity outside of motherhood. On her blog, Views From a Step Stool, she writes about kids activities and parenting, subscribe to it here to grab her website's exclusive content and kids activities! You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.