6 Strategies to Help Our Kids Calm & Soothe
We can change what is happening in our brains—(shifting the activity from the reaction center to the thinking center)—by changing what is happening in our bodies.
Warm, loving connections help to calm and soothe intense emotions. They interrupt the reactive response and motivate positive behaviour.
1. Start by noticing what is going on in your child’s body.
- Check your child’s “body clues”. Red face? Clenched fists? Tight shoulders? Stomping feet? Furrowed brow? Tight jaw? Stomach ache?
2. Offer soothing and attentive comments
- ex. “I can see how tight your shoulders are and that tells me you are very upset right now.”
- “Your face looks so hot, would you like a cool cloth or a drink of water to help you feel better?”
- Breathing is so important to activating the calming reflexes
- When we are stressed, we tend to breathe from the top part of our lungs. Breathing more deeply, so that we expand our rib cage, actually activates the calming reflex.
- Breaths don’t have to be really big, just enough to gently expand the rib cage, slowly and gently, in and out
- Bring your child onto your lap and have her back rest against your chest. As you breathe slowly in and out, the rhythm of your breathing against her back will get your child breathing as well.
- Have some water to sip on to help hydrate the brain and activate the calming reflex.
- Make space for relaxation: a “cosy corner” in the house with soft pillows, blankets, stuffies, music, soft lighting, etc
- Pick a time each day for relaxation—bedtime? Driving in the car? Just after dinner?
- Rhythm is very relaxing…try reading stories that have lots of rhythm, like Dr Seuss
5. Cuddle and snuggle with your child
- Touch, warmth and connection activate the calming love hormones
- Hold their hand
- Stay close by –remain available to engage when your child is ready to
- Get down to their level, as possible—sit beside them
6. Do all of these things yourself to help you fully respond to your child
- Take a soothing breath, drink so water, actively try to relax your body
- Invite your child to do these with you, they may say no, but you keep doing it—at the very least, you will feel calmer!
These strategies really do help to counteract the tension and discomfort that our bodies go through with big emotions.
For more on Understanding Big Emotions
What sorts of things do you do to help your child calm themselves?