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How to Model Calm Behaviors for an Upset Child

Upset children can try the best of us with their temper tantrums and expressions of anger, irritability, or blues over not getting their own way. ...

How to Model Calm Behaviors for an Upset Child article provided by wikiHow. Content on wikiHow can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Model Calm Behaviors for an Upset Child

Upset children can try the best of us with their temper tantrums and expressions of anger, irritability, or blues over not getting their own way. While it is important to recognize cases of genuine fear or sense of loss, most times children are testing limits as they grow, especially the toddlers, and it is very helpful in all instances to learn quickly how to model calm behavior reactions for them to learn from and repeat.

edit Steps

  1. 1
    Keep calm. This is the first and most important part of the whole process - you remaining calm at all times! It might be hard to do in the heat of the moment but it is crucial. Keep saying to yourself "This will pass, this will pass" and have a determination to remain calm in your actions. If you need to do this on a level of automatic pilot, then do so - far better to go through the motions calmly than to explode emotionally because you are so focused on how this impacts your nerves.
  2. 2
    Take deep breaths. During the tantrum, it is a good idea to take deep breaths every time you feel yourself becoming overwhelmed by the behavior before you.
  3. 3
    Before any situation blows up, practice the things that you will say to your child in the heat of the moment. Good things to say include:
    • Let's count down to 1 from 10. Start with me: 10, 9, 8, 7... etc.
    • Could you take some very deep breaths for me? I'll do it with you, let's start...
    • Come and look at the [favorite toy, sunshine, pet, etc.] and we'll see if that will make us feel better! Come on, let's go...
    • Let's get Teddy and ask him if he feels bad too. [Then use Teddy to go through a small charade of Teddy feeling bad but moving through his feelings to feeling OK again]
  4. 4
    Use a stress release mechanism. A good way to let a child let out some of their tension is to provide something that they can use to physically let it out. Stress balls are fantastic - provide them and have your child hold one in each hand, and you need to do so too. Suggest that the two of you squeeze those balls really hard together, as tight as you can, to let out the bad feelings. Squeeze a few times, talking calmly about how this will leave both of you feeling calmer and happier. Alternately, take them outdoors to play on play equipment, or just to run about, throw balls, etc.
  5. 5
    Use time out sparingly. It might be necessary to use time out on occasion but on the whole, it is better to try and work through the calming techniques instead. Time out leaves a child alone and unhappy, thinking those unhappy thoughts into bigger unhappy thoughts that create a pattern for next time. If you persist with the calming techniques, you will create a positive pattern in which the child learns to react positively to calm treatment and you learn to always use calm treatment.
  6. 6
    Don't take it too seriously. The biggest downfall is to berate your mothering skills and to take it all so seriously that you get yourself wound up for being a "bad mom" and you end up radiating this tension to your child. Realize that children test boundaries and that most of their naughty behavior is calculated to get a reaction and when it does, you're on weaker ground. Instead, treat it for what it is - testing but not serious issues and don't let them feel that sense of empowerment by seeing you lose it. Brush it off both obviously but also within your own thinking processes; the more you practice this, the easier it gets. Your children are safe, well nourished, cared for; you don't need to go adding baggage to that.

edit Tips

  • Seek professional advice if you have repeated calming techniques on a number of occasions but your child does not react well and cannot calm down. There may be other issues that need guidance and addressing.

edit Things You'll Need

  • Stress balls or other diversionary objects
  • Teddy or other favorite toy, or even a patient pet
  • Deep breathing techniques (you can learn these from yoga, meditation, etc. books from the library, or check online)

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