12 Ways to Help Keep Your Child Calm

12 Ways to Help Your Child Stay Calm

There are so many wonderful things about this time of year—family tradition, gifts, spending time with people we love. This wonderful time of year can also bring on big feelings that are not so good. It can be the jam-packed social calendar, deadlines at school or work, the loss of a loved one, or all of the above. Just as parent stress increases due to lack of time, financial pressure, gift-giving, and family gatherings, kid stress can increase as well.

The greatest gift we can give our kids, though, is the gift of being able to calm themselves when they are having a rough time. Kids don’t have the ability to do this on their own until they are about 11 to 13 years old. The ability to calm themselves in moments of big emotions begins early on but will not cap developmentally until the ‘tween years. So, in the meantime we can begin to teach them this skill.

12 Ways in 12 Days

In the 12 days before Christmas, our gift to you from Dawn is 12 ways you can teach your child how to calm their bodies when they filled with big emotions.

We hope you this helps to give you and your kids a more enjoyable season with lots of great memories to look back on.

  1. The gift of a great way to calm my mind and body.
    1. Blowing bubbles with your child serves as a great distraction and helps them deep breathe, which we know is a great way to calm an upset body and mind
  2. The calming power of a hug
    1. Never underestimate the power of a hug. This often-overlooked gift helps your child’s heart rate and breathing mirror yours.
  3. The gift of a question to get me thinking
    1. Ask a comparative question of your teens and tweens to get them thinking!”I can tell you are more upset today than usual. What’s different about today?”
  4. The gift of distraction
    • Distraction works like a charm to calm kids quickly.
    • What color eyes am I wearing, pink or orange? Wow! This sofa is so soft, you should feel it! Singing a goofy song. I think I saw a package at the door, would you get it for me, please?
  5. A gift to calm anger
    1. When kids are angry teach them to push their already-balled-up fists into their hipbones. This may be one to practice BEFORE an angry moment.
  6. The gift of a calm and relaxed voice.
    1. Lower your voice and talk slower. Emotionally charged children have constricted ear muscles, so this will help them actually hear you.
  7. A silly gift to help calm me
    1. Feet up! Have your child lay with their butt against wall and their feet up the wall. This is a great way to calm an upset body.
  8. The gift of mindfulness
    1. Have your child imagine a place where they feel calm and safe. Ask them to notice the calm feeling in their body. Just sit with them and that calm feeling.
  9. The gift of being present. Grounding: Bringing your child back into the present moment
    1. 5-4-3-2-1
      • 5 things you see (red)
      • 4 things to touch (soft)
      • 3 sounds you didn’t notice
      • 2 smells
      • 1 internal sensations (tense, relaxed, etc)
        *words can be replaced
  10. The gift of cotton balls
    1. Keep cotton balls on hand!  Teach your child to throw cotton balls when they are angry to release energy in a productive way.
  11. The gift of modeling a calming skill
    1. Own what your child is feeling as your emotion and model a calming skill for them.
      • “I feel angry right now so I’m going to take a second and imagine my calm place until I feel calmer.”
  12. A gift for the senses to help relax me.
    1. Give your child something that involves the senses:
      • Playdough
      • a snack or drink
      • stress ball
      • fidget
      • pipe cleaners
      • music they like