Tantrums seem to be the norm with toddlers. They are frustrated with their inability to fully communicate and express themselves and sometimes find themselves unable to cope with their spiraling emotions. And as parents, seeing these meltdowns can trigger a range of emotions within ourselves, from helplessness, embarrassment to even anger.
So what can we do? Just wait it out? Or is there anything that can help?
I have found that changing my kids’ physiology and focus helps change the direction things are going.
How? I ask them to put their hands together like in prayer up to their chest then breathe.
By changing their physiology, they are no longer hushed over, clenched or whatever way they are carrying their body while upset. Their hands at their chest brings their shoulders a little straighter and their hands in prayer lightly presses on most all the hand pressure points to help soothe them.
By asking them to breathe, they are changing their hurried or crying breathing patterns to one that is more smooth. As they concentrate on breathing and holding their hands, they are momentarily forgetting whatever they got upset about.
And by asking them to do this, I am doing it myself. And how I carry myself during their breakdowns will dictate how long or how intense a breakdown can be. And sometimes as parents, all we can do at that moment is deeply breathe.
I’ve seen my daughter spontaneously calm herself down in this way when she has gotten hurt when she was 18 months old. My almost 4 year old son didn’t start doing this until he was 2.5 and has been using it more now than before to manage his emotions so we can figure out what is going on.
Simple? Yes. Effective? Very. Easy? No. It takes practice and dedication everyday, as well as a willingness on our part as parents to understand how our own emotions can transfer onto our kids. When we are calm at our deepest core, they will feel it and begin to calm themselves.
So if we can gently breathe along with them, even have them repeat something along the lines like, “Be gentle, be patient, be kind, *breathe* be love” it can remind them and us what is needed at that moment.
Give this change of physiology and focus a shot if you're looking for something new to try with your kids to help calm them down.
Leave a comment if you've seen any changes for both you and your kids with this one tip, or if you have any tips of your own that work with your family!