If you are a parent, you have probably experienced a tantrum you thought would never end. As a parent, you feel helpless, not knowing what to do for your little one. Some parents expect their child to follow their commands, while they are under the “tantrum mode,” but we all know that doesn’t work. When your child is under stress, he cannot learn new information nor comprehend what you want him to do. It’s impossible for his little brain to process under stress.
You know what I’m talking about because you have probably “lost it” a couple times. When we are experience stress, we feel confused, overwhelmed, we can’t think clearly and end up making bad choices. But once calm, we can once again see the light at the end of the tunnel. Now, multiply that times 100 = your child’s experience.
When your child is calm, he will be more receptive to your feedback. His ability to learn will be greater once in a state of relaxation. The reality is that your child’s way of dealing with anxiety will be manifested in similar ways as an adult. One of the best gifts you can give your child is the capacity to self-soothe. The following tips can be modified to meet the needs of every child regardless of age (as well as adults).
Create a safe/calm place:
- Use a tent so your child feels they have their own private area – (IKEA has a cute and affordable one for $20.00).
- If you don’t want to use a tent, you can choose a corner in your living room or a spot in their room.
- Designate that area specifically to practice being calm and relaxed. Go ahead and include your child in giving their safe/calm place a name. Our previous 9-year-old foster child named hers, safe castle. If they are included in the planning, they will most likely use it vs. you telling them they must use it.
- Remember, it may require some time for your child to go to their safe/calm place, but with time, it may become their favorite spot to relax. You must direct them gently to their calm place.
- It’s okay if things don’t work. Be flexible and change them. Always adjust. Be creative!
- Make this a fun family project. Take them to the store to choose their tent or accessories. Talk about how they will use this safe/calm place.
Safe/calm place MUST have a self-soothing box with the following:
- Vision – Pictures of family or favorite vacation, soothing colors, art, reminders of taking deep breaths (use Loving Guidance Inc.’s Safe Place Breathing Icons). Include the Feelings Chart.
- Sound – Music player with headphones, nature sounds.
- Smell – Fragrance, food aromas, scratch & sniff stickers, aromatherapy lotions (lavender, vanilla, chamomile, or any scent that helps calm down).
- Touch – stuffed animals, vibrating stuffed animals or tubes (these help calm), books, puppets, any of your child’s favorite items, lots of pillows with different weights, blanket, coloring books or journal.
- Taste – sweet, sour, chewy foods (keep to a minimum as we don’t want food to be the major source of comfort). You can have healthier versions (trail mix, yogurt snacks, etc.)
Please keep the items age appropriate – think of safety first!
** Water is an important in maintaining healthy brain development, so please keep your child hydrated!
Take time to help them process their feelings, once your child is calm and relaxed. Depending on your child’s age, you can use My Feelings Worksheet with them to help them process their thoughts and feelings. With smaller children, talk about their feeling and what they could do different next time. Don’t forget to praise your child for going to their safe/calm place. Tell them how proud they must be of themselves for being calm. This is also your opportunity to talk about your feelings and thoughts and plans for future incidents. I hope this is a good starting point for you and your family in helping your child self-soothe.
- How am I reacting/responding to my child’s lack of self-soothing skills?
- What’s one thing I can do different today as my child experiences stress?
Click here for similar topics: