5 Quick Ways to Calm Down Your Kid

5 Quick Ways to Calm Down Your Kid

One mom shares how she calms down kids when they feel upset, anxious, or overwhelmed.


By: Lorraine Allen

Let’s face it, kids are not the best at managing their emotions. In fact, as a mom, I’ve come to appreciate that one of the most important things I was taught growing up was how to calm down when feeling upset, anxious, or overwhelmed. Lately, my kid, who is 5 years old, has been going through a few stressful things like starting a new big school, in a whole new language, and going through some painful medical tests. Here are the methods I’ve been successfully using to help her calm down:

1. Acknowledge her issue but gently, and quickly, redirect her attention. If she is screaming about a little boo-boo or because she does not like school, say something like, “I know that hurts or is hard, and I’m sorry. And actually, I was just about to ask if you wanted to …" (insert something here like, “… go to the beach this weekend,” or “… help bake cookies later.”)

2. Be empathetic. That means share her emotion with her. Let her know that you know what that yucky feeling is, and you know it does not feel good. Often times, pain, fear, and stress are more overwhelming because they feel alienating; upset kids feel alone with their difficult emotions, and THAT is what’s hard. Sharing their pain with them can help them move on and recover faster.

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3. Be funny. You’ve heard it before: laughter IS the best medicine, especially for bad moods or dark feelings. Sometimes a kid just gets stuck in a feeling and no amount of reasoning or reassuring can get him out of that rut. But start talking or walking in a very silly way all of sudden, as if by accident, and just like that, the mood is lifted.

4. Make it feel familiar. Not the pain or fear or anxiety, but the event or thing that is causing it. Find a book or song or game that makes light of, or explains in very simple, fun childish terms, the thing your kid is distressed about. For example, my kid recently saw a dead roach, and she became terrified she might find one at home. A librarian friend suggested great books on bugs, including one about a salsa dancing cucaracha, and now my kid thinks they are funny.

5. Try practicing mindfulness and breathing. My kid once asked, “How can I stop thinking scary thoughts?” I suggested she see her thoughts as clouds, just passing by. If a dark storm cloud is lurking, darkening her mood, we take a few deep breaths and blow it away together until we can imagine seeing the sunlight behind it, and then maybe a clear blue sky or a happy cotton-candy cloud floating towards us instead.

How do you help your kids calm down?



Lorraine Allen is a writer, and mom and personal chef to one spunky 5-year-old girl with severe food allergies. You can enjoy their delicious recipes and follow their amusing family cooking adventures at Feeding Lina.

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