8 Tips to Calm Your Kid while Keeping Your Cool

Every parent has been there. Your kid is out of control, inconsolable, and you have no clue how to calm them. Whether your kid is 2 and mad that you cut their sandwich wrong, 12 and devastated they can’t go to a sleepover, or 17 and livid that you took their cell phone away, you feel helpless in getting them to see your perspective and just calm down. Before you know it, you’re as upset as they are, and you find yourself in a screaming match of hurtful words and painful emotions.

So what can parents do to calm their kids and themselves? Try these 8 tips to teach everyone in your household how to calmly handle tough emotions:

1. Avoid getting physical

Resist the urge to put your hands on your kid in anger as they work through their outburst. Adding physical pain to emotional turmoil only fuels the fire. If you get too heated or if your kid hits you, walk away until you’re both able to talk without getting physical.

Feel like your kid is always defiant? Click here

2. Let “teaching moments” wait

When your kid is feeling emotionally overwhelmed, they’re not in a place to listen to your words of wisdom. Wait until after they’ve calmed down to discuss appropriate behaviors, values, rules, and consequences. Remind them that you love them and are here for them as they learn how new ways to deal with tough feelings.

Click here for more tips on being a high EQ parent

3. Take a visual vacay

Visualization is another great tool for releasing the mind from negative thoughts. One visualization tool that can work for all ages is called “Imagine a Rainbow. Picture yourself walking down a beautiful path. As a storm clears. Envision a rainbow appearing and imagine yourself standing beneath it, letting. Its warm, bright light fill you with calmness. Reflect on the feelings that each color makes you think of.

Try this relaxing activity with your child. Download our free Rainbow Mandala Coloring Sheet

4. Tame your tension

When we get upset, our muscles tend to clench up. This tension does not need to be your enemy; in fact, tense-and-release exercises are a great way to calm your body down. Tell young kids to make their body rigid like a robot, then to relax their body like a floppy ragdoll. Clench your jaw, your hands, stomach, and curl your toes. Then, slowly release each muscle one at a time. Repeating these tense-and-release exercises will gradually calm your body and mind.

5. Ground yourself

We don’t mean to exile yourself to life without TV for a week; we mean to ground your focus down to your 5 senses in the present moment:

  • LOOK - “I see a picture on the wall”

  • FEEL – “I feel my hand resting on the chair”

  • LISTEN – “I hear the A/C blowing”

  • SMELL – “I smell the vanilla air freshener”

  • TASTE – “I taste my orange from lunch”

Focusing on the present moment helps to relieve anxiety about the future or sorrow about the past.

6. Breathe through it

Gaining control of your breathing helps to harness negative emotions. A great way to get young kids to calm their breathing is to have them do the “flower, birthday cake” exercise. Tell them to pretend they’re smelling a beautiful flower, and then, pretend to blow out candles on a birthday cake. Older kids (and you!) can benefit from sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed, placing your hands on your belly as you inhale and exhale, and focusing on the cool air entering in and warm air releasing out.

Take a break with your child and focus your attention on belly breathing using our free Mandala Coloring Sheet

7. Calm creatively

Channeling emotions into creative projects can help to put the mind and body at ease. Kids and adults alike can use coloring, painting, or sculpting to divert distract from their minds away from overwhelming emotions and toward the colors, lines, shapes, and textures of what they’re creating. Keep creative art supplies on hand for a quick diversion when tensions start to rise.

8. Get a calming coach

There are many factors that contribute to kids having major emotional outbursts, and knowing how to respond can be tough as a parent. This can be especially hard if your child struggles with learning differences or other disorders that impact their emotional health. Our specialists can get to know your family’s unique challenges and give you tools to learn healthy ways to overcome them.

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Variations Psychology is a group practice specializing in Child and Family Psychology.

Our specialists provide therapy to infants, children, adolescents, and adults to help them overcome the many challenges they may face throughout the lifespan of a family. We also conduct diagnostic testing of child and adult conditions that may impact the family’s mental health and development (e.g. ADHD, Autism Depression, Anxiety, Learning Disorders, college entrance exams, graduate and professional licensing exams such as MCAT, LSAT, GRE, CBEST, NCLEX, GMAT, CA Cosmetology Exam, CA Contractors State Licensing Exam, and CA Bar Exam).

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References:

Cognitive and Social Skills to Expect From 18 to 36 Months. (2019) ACT Raising Safe Kids Program. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/act/resources/fact-sheets/development-36-months

Shinn, M.M. (2018). Am I an Emotionally Intelligent Parent? 6 Tips for Moms & Dads to Boost their EQ. Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/am-i-an-emotionally-intelligent-parent-6-tips-for-moms-dads-to-boost-their-eq

Shinn, M.M. (2018). From Spoiled to Grateful – 9 Tips for Raising Thankful Kids.  Psychologically Speaking.  [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/from-spoiled-to-grateful-9-tips-for-raising-thankful-kids

Shinn, M.M. (2018). Operation Anger Man-agement! A Guy’s Guide to Understanding His Inner Hulk. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/operation-anger-man-agement

Shinn, M.M. (2018). Should I Get My Kid Tested?  Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post].  Retrieved from https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/schools-out-should-i-get-my-kid-tested

Tantrum in the Grocery Store. (2019) ACT Raising Safe Kids Program. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/act/resources/fact-sheets/challenging-36-months

Timmer, S., Hawk, B., Lundquist, K., Forte, L., Aviv, R., Boys, D., & Urquiza, A. Coping & Relaxation Skills 1. (2016) PC-CARE: Course of Treatment Manual. Unpublished Manuscript. Retrieved from https://pcit.ucdavis.edu/wpcontent/uploads/2018/11/47_Coping_LittleKids-Aubrey-edits-8.6.18.pdf

Timmer, S., Hawk, B., Lundquist, K., Forte, L., Aviv, R., Boys, D., & Urquiza, A. Coping & Relaxation Skills 2 (2016) PC-CARE: Course of Treatment Manual. Unpublished Manuscript. Retrieved from https://pcit.ucdavis.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/48_Coping_BigKids_6-9yrs-Aubreyedits.pdf

Timmer, S., Hawk, B., Lundquist, K., Forte, L., Aviv, R., Boys, D., & Urquiza, A. Coping & Relaxation Skills 3 (2016) PC-CARE: Course of Treatment Manual. Unpublished Manuscript. Retrieved from https://pcit.ucdavis.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Coping_Older-Kids_9-13yrs.pdf

Timmer, S., Hawk, B., Lundquist, K., Forte, L., Aviv, R., Boys, D., & Urquiza, A. Co- Regulation Techniques (2016) PC-CARE: Course of Treatment Manual. Unpublished Manuscript. Retrieved from https://pcit.ucdavis.edu/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/47.1_Session2-CoRegulation-Techniques.pdf

What Makes Children Angry. (2019) ACT Raising Safe Kids Program. American Psychological Association. Retrieved from https://www.apa.org/act/resources/fact-sheets/children-angry

How to Cite This Blog Article:

Shinn. M.M. (2019). 8 Tips to Calm Your Kid While Keeping Your Cool. Psychologically Speaking. [Variations Psychology blog post]. Retrieved from: https://www.variationspsychology.com/blogs/8-tips-to-calm-your-kid-while-keeping-your-cool