Creative Child

25 Ways to Calm an Upset Child

by Rebecca Eanes on Dec 19th, 2015

The first step in teaching children how to manage their emotions is learning to manage our own. If adults are easily upset and thrown off balance, their children will usually follow suit. Growing ourselves may be the hardest part of parenting. Many of us are simultaneously learning new skills and trying to teach them to our children.

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In The Newbie’s Guide to Positive Parenting, I discuss the importance of owning our feelings and actions in chapter 6 and list several tools parents can use to calm their own upsets. I’ll share a few of these below:

  • Choose a mantra to repeat to yourself (or out loud) when you are angry. Examples are “I’m capable of remaining calm” or “I am safe; there is no emergency.” I find it helpful to repeat the beginning of a children’s book I always read to my children when they were very little. This brings back feelings of warmth and calm for me.
  • Do something physical. Splash cold water on your face. Jog in place. Put on some music and dance. Get outside for fresh air.
  • If you feel the need to yell, use a loud, silly voice or make a “toot toot” noise while cupping your mouth with your hands. Don’t worry about looking silly to your kids. They’d rather see you look silly than look scary.

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Practicing these steps when you are angry is a great way to teach your child emotional intelligence; they learn primarily through what we model for them.  While anger is the tough emotion many parents ask for help in dealing with, both for themselves and their children, feelings of worry, sadness, and many more difficult feelings need to also be managed. Below is a list of ways to calm an upset child (and yourself)!

Because everyone needs something a little different to calm with, choose which works best for your unique child. By teaching your child these skills, her emotional intelligence will grow as she learns to manage her emotions and her behaviors.

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