Staying Calm when Your Child has Intense Emotions

What often happens when our child (or someone else in our lives) gets angry and starts acting out? We do the same.

It is difficult not to get worked up when we have another human in front of us who is “flipping out” right?

Here are 4 steps that can help us remain calm in these high intensity emotion situations.

Step 1:          Stop, Breathe and Count

When a parent can identify any of the common anger signs (i.e. rapid breathing, tightening of the stomach, clenched jaw, feeling hot, shaking, and/or the desire to hit or yell) they can take the first important step, and that is simply to STOP.  Begin by putting up a hand and firmly but calmly announcing “STOP,” both to oneself and the child.

Step 2:          “See and Hear” Yourself
Once a parent has stopped the initial surge of anger, s/he is most likely in a better frame of mind to view the situation.  When parents are calm, they can see the situation from a more objective point of view.

Step 3:          Adjust Expectations
Parents sometimes set themselves up for anger by harbouring unrealistic expectations.  Realistic expectations anticipate the small misbehaviours that often makes parents angry. This way, when the behaviour occurs, it does not take the parent by surprise.  Keeping expectations realistic and age-appropriate helps parents deal with life as it is, rather than how they’d like it to be.  By learning about child development parents can recognize when their children are simply “acting their age.”

Step 4:          Analyse and have a back up plan
Take some time to analyze the situation and decide how best to handle it. A back-up plan is wise for a parent to remain calm and productive. Give yourself a little “time out” to cool down if you can.

We as humans all get angry sometimes. With practice, parents may find that following these steps to staying calm actually prevents them from getting angry in the first place.

To learn more about intense emotions, see Understanding Big Emotions



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