When our kids are having a meltdown, tough go, or panic attack we can inadvertently compound the situation by telling them to ‘Calm down’ or ‘Relax.’ Most of the time, this is also said with a tone that is less than calm.
Taking a deep breath ourselves before using these alternatives will help to deliver a supportive message:
“You look upset. Do you need a hug?
“I can see that you are struggling with something. Do you need my help?”
“Hold my hand and let’s take a few deep breaths together.”
“Let’s fix this problem together.”
“Let’s start by counting to 10 together.”
“I can see that you are upset. Tell me about what is bothering you.”
As parents, we have the ability to teach our children that the emotions they are feeling are valid. We can give them the gift of normalization by acknowledging their emotional struggle. By focusing in on how to calm when anger or upset takes over, we are teaching them that they have the ability to contain, process and choose an alternative behaviour. It may take a bit of practice on our part, but the outcome will be worth the effort. 🙂