Regulating emotions can be difficult for any child, but those who struggle with anger can have an especially difficult time. It is our job as parents to find ways to not only help them calm down when becoming upset, but to help them learn to calm down anywhere anytime. We also need to teach them on identifying things that are triggers and what to do in those very first few moments when something gets their blood flowing.
It is important to always validate their emotions, not disregard them. If they find value and importance in something, it won’t do any good to tell them that their understanding of importance is incorrect. It’s important that they get to feel their emotions so they can learn from the experience.
Children with anger struggles will often display physical aggression as well. Providing outlets for this such as punching a pillow or squeezing a blanket will help relieve this tension. Your child might not like to feel isolated from the family or from you when upset, but a bit of space can be a good thing. Give them an area with you in sight to have them calm down. Maybe the couch or kitchen table.
Emotions are a normal part of our development, and we experience them every day. It is perfectly fine to get mad, or become angry. Any consequences that you provide for your child while they are upset should always be for the behaviors, not for the emotion. Sometimes us parents blend the two and it doesn’t help them understand that everyone gets angry and that’s ok.
Always keep a calm voice and a calm demeanor. The calmer you are, the better chance you have at the child calming down. Never match anger with anger. This teaches nothing. This will keep a viscous cycle going. Remember we parents are their biggest teachers.
Children need to feel heard, especially when upset. Eye contact helps them feel validated. Allowing them to talk about how they are feeling and validating them will help them learn from the situation. It will set them up for success the next time they are presented with an angry situation.
Here are some ways to calm children down anywhere:
Count to 5: Sometimes just simply counting slowly to 5 can give a world of difference when it comes to anger and impulsive behavior
Take deep slow breathes: This helps put the focus on breathing and will be a guarantee the child will calm down because this technique relaxes the mind and body
Place hands in pockets: This helps for children with impulsive behavior and tend to go straight for hitting. This will make them focus on keeping their hands in their pockets and will de-escalate them.
Acknowledge if it was an accident: Sometimes kids have a hard time deciding that something was an accident and wasn’t intended to make them angry. So making sure they understand this will help them calm down.
Keep a stress ball on hand to help reduce the tension and anger: When angry a stress ball really helps release some tension. If no stress ball on hand have the child squeeze a fist and release. This will provide the same results.
Distraction from what was causing anger: Sometimes you need to just redirect their focus all together and when you notice they are totally distracted and calmed down you can then revisit the situation and discuss why they felt angry and talk it out.
Give hugs: Hugs make a world of difference. Sometimes just giving a child a nice good hug will release some tension and de-escalate the situation.