Let’s face it: given the high-stress, face-paced, and often-chaotic world we live in, it can be hard to unwind or calm down. And our poor kids! It can be even more difficult for them to relax. Below are 8 ways to help your child wind-down when frustrated. I encourage you to try these exercises with your kiddo at first, and eventually help them learn to use these tricks all on their own! (P.S. I have to admit that I use some of these exercises, too; so, try one out yourself next time you need help to unwind from a frustrating situation!)
1. Count to 5.
Counting is a great way to help kids learn how to stop and think before reacting to their anger. Impulse control is difficult to come by for younger kids. This simple tactic gives them a chance to think before they act.
2. Take a deep breath.
Deep breathing is such powerful relaxation technique. Despite how they are feeling, taking a deep breath (or two, depending upon the day) can help them calm their bodies quickly.
3. Blow into your hands.
This is another technique for promoting deep breathing. By blowing directly into their hands rather than the air, the child receives feedback and can feel the strength of their own breath. This serves as a type of sensory stimulation, which can help ground and recenter you kiddo quickly.
4. Place hands in pockets.
This act provides kids with another form of sensory stimulation, via pressure. An alternative to this would be to sit on hands or clasp them tightly.
5. Acknowledge antecedents to anger.
It is so important that kids begin to notice and realize what happens to their bodies when they become angry. Feel free to help your child with this step by asking questions like: “What does your face feel like right now?” The point of this is for both you and your kiddo to recognize the precursors to a meltdown, so you can eventually avoid them all together.
6. Make a fist, then relax the hand.
Squeezing hands into fists and then releasing them is an easy way to remove tension build up in the body. Most of the time, kids don’t realize how much tension they carry in their bodies while frustrated. This exercise helps them recognize and release the tension.
7. Do a body scan.
When upset, encourage your kiddo to pay attention to his body. Start at the head, and work your way down; make notes of where he is tense, and encourage him to wiggle—literally wiggle—all the anger out. Doing this helps your child relax tense muscles and hopefully transition into a happier mood.
8. Ask for a hug.
When it doubt, hug it out! After all, hugs make everything better. Encourage your child to find someone she loves, and ask for a hug. You’d be surprised how much better a hug can make you feel.