Equipping Kids to Calm

Practical ways to build your child’s self-regulation skills

Parents want to be able to help their kids calm down when conflict happens. So it can be quite discouraging when conflicts spiral out of control. If screaming matches are normal at your house, or even if they are infrequent but still troublesome, here are three developmental stages to consider. Whether you have a toddler or a teen, we’ll offer practical tips to help you teach your kids to calm down so they can solve problems well.

Transitions: It’s Time To Go

And Your Child Wants to Stay

 

Does this sound familiar?  Picture yourself standing, hands on hips at the front door saying (maybe loudly, even): “C’mon, kids. It’s time to go. Kids…. Kids…. It’s time to go!!! You need to listen to me! Get moving – NOW!” Does this pattern repeat itself every time your kids need to make a transition?

It can be tough for some kids to simply come to a meal or come in from playing outside, let alone get organized to get into the car. The busier your schedule, the more times you have to get your kids away from what they are doing and on to the next thing. Since these transitions become the “bookends” of each activity in your day, they tend to create repeated patterns of either teamwork or power struggles.

Helping Kids Transition From One Activity to the Next

When Kids Won't Quit What They're Doing

When a child becomes so focused on a favorite activity that they just can’t seem to pull away, it may become an exercise in frustration for parents. Suddenly, Mom or Dad may find themselves heading directly toward power struggles and conflict as they attempt to move their child onto the next activity.

A mom who had taken the Discipline That Connects online course recently shared some strategies for creating peace in the midst of what had become a repeatedly challenging situation.  Her daughter, Karina, 5 years old, loves to read and sometimes getting her to transition to bedtime became a power struggle.  Read to learn how Laura was able to calmly and wisely help her daughter transition to bedtime without conflict, while teaching her some important lessons in the process.

Helping Kids Transition

How to Avoid Being Taken Hostage by Kids’ Demands

Parents sometimes feel like hostages to the intense demands of their children, intimidated into submission with the threat of “the big gun” – a deafening meltdown. One of our online course participants asked for help:

Our 3 1/2 year old son often wants a specific plate or cup. So if we set him up with one that he doesn’t like, he can be very vocal about it. Sometimes our initial reaction is something like “It doesn’t matter if you have the blue cup or the orange cup. Why can’t you be flexible & move on?!?! Get over it!” But perhaps he wants to exercise his choice & preference.

10 Best on the Connected Families Blog 2014

We can hardly believe it’s 2015 already! Before we dive into a year of new blog posts, we thought we’d dwell for just a moment on some of your favorites from 2014. Here are the ten most-clicked parenting tips of 2014.

P.S. If you know a friend or relative who might benefit from some Connected Families insights, this would be a GREAT post to share with them!

Why Do Kids Tantrum?

 

Simply stated, kids have tantrums because they pay off. In some convoluted sort of way they get what they want. Even if it means they lose their cool and wear themselves out. The challenge for a parent is determining what exactly a child might need in the midst of an all-out emotional outburst. What they want may not be what it appears at face value to be. For example, even if the flailing tantrum at the store does not get them the object of the tantrum, the child is still likely meeting a need for intense attention, for power, and for control. So if a child is lacking good attention, or feels out of control, a tantrum might be just the thing the child needs in order to get some attention or feel in control.

How Parents Can Predict a Meltdown…

child throws a tantrum

Credit: leftfieldphotography | iStockphoto.com

Fists clench. Ears turn red. Lips quiver. The tiny chest heaves to draw in a breath and then — “NOOOOOOOO!!”

When your child starts working up to a tantrum, those tell-tale warning signs can make an explosion seem expected, or even inevitable. But while a meltdown might seem predictable, it doesn’t have to be inevitable.

Why Kids Explode and What to Do about It

Why Kids Explode

Just like us, our kids sometimes react angrily when something important to them feels attacked. First expressions of anger are almost always aggressive. As kids get old enough to express themselves, the aggression becomes words and actions.

I saw it just today. The toddler at the Post Office was angry that her mom wouldn’t give her the sucker the postmaster handed out. She chased her mom through the lobby, and when the mom stopped at her P.O. box, the feisty little gal hauled off and whacked her mom. Mom turned quickly with her finger extended and brow furled. “Stop it!” she yelled. It’s a natural response that doesn’t really teach kids anything constructive. But before the mom could say anything else I simply and rather loudly said to the child, “Wow! You’re really mad! You really want that sucker.” I looked right at her from across the lobby and she looked back. I paused for just a second or two. Her mad face immediately softened. I then said, “but you can learn to be nicer when you’re mad.”

The mom looked at me, looking a bit ashamed but also relieved. She then immediately looked at her daughter and calmly said, “Did you hear him? You should be nicer when you’re mad.” She held out her hand and the daughter took it, and they walked quietly out to the car.

Now it could be that the little gal quieted because she was shocked that some ugly old balding man with a grey beard would talk to her that way. But we’ve seen time and time again that when grown-ups can validate their kids’ anger – even aggressive anger – and put words to what the kids feel, it helps the kids feel understood and then settle down. It helps the parents settle too. Then the resolution can be much more constructive.