How to help your kid find their calm
By Jennifer Seawell, MD, FAAP
Do you have a kid who is always worrying about stuff that has happened or might happen in the future? We all have moments like this. But if you are noticing that your child has really been struggling, it’s time to make a plan to help address the problem and find their calm. There are a few techniques that you can use on the spot when your child is losing it.
Even your very young children can benefit from breathing “like a square” when they are upset. Very simply, have them focus on their breathing and breathe in the pattern of a square. Breathe in for 5, hold for 5, out for 5, hold for 5. And repeat until their breathing has slowed into a steady pattern and they are calm. The focus on the breath will keep them from angsting over what they can’t control.
Take a walk
Sometimes when we’re upset, a change in scenery can really help. So gather up your littles and get out of the house. Look for flowers or see if you spot any wildlife. See who can find the neatest shaped leaf. Even a short 5-minute walk can reset the mood.
Do a sensory check-in
Another technique that can help bring the focus to the present is to do a sensory check in. Have your child sit quietly and calm and tell 5 things they see, 5 things they hear, 5 things they smell, 5 things they can feel, and something they can taste.
Try setting up a worry time
If you have a youngster that is always worrying about everything, try setting up a daily worry time. Anything bothering them that they want to get off their chest? Make sure they know that you are happy to hear their concerns, but that you’ll hear them at a specific time. It’s a great first step in helping them at least temporarily manage their worries.
An example would be if they climb off the bus and immediately start dumping all the problems into your lap, remind them that right now is the time to settle in. And you’ll be happy to sit down with them at “enter specified time” so that you can give their worries 100% of your attention.
List 5 good things
Have you ever noticed that it is hard to feel worried if you are acknowledging what you have to be grateful for? Sometimes the bad stuff pops to our brains much more easily. So each day, encourage your child to tell you 5 great things that happened to them. And share with them 5 great things that happened to you. Gratitude is a skill we need to help our children to develop.
For more information on taking care of you, check out this post on Self Care for the School Year.
The Pediatric Ninja
This article is the professional opinion of its author and is not intended to take the place of medical advice, diagnosis or treatment from your personal physician.