Tips to Help You Calm an Upset Child
- If your child is upset, remind them to take deep breaths or count to ten. Make sure to model the desired behavior by doing it together with the child.
- Distract your child by singing a song, playing music, or pointing out something else in the area that might interest the child.
- Do something you know makes your child laugh.
- Allow the child to hold their favorite toy or stuffed animal.
- Engage your child in a physical activity such as going for a walk, jumping up and down, or playing on a playground.
- Use “First…Then” to help the child understand that they will get what they want if they are patient. For example, “First read a book, then watch TV.”
All kids sometimes have difficulty controlling their emotions. While some children can count to ten or practice deep breathing, others need a little extra help to calm down and move on. Thankfully, toys can help! Below are my favorite calming strategies that rely on toys, discovered and tested during my years as a special education teacher.
Use toys to re-direct emotions. Interrupting the strong emotion can help a child calm down and move past it, so that they can process what caused the strong emotion in the first place. Smaller items such as a squeeze ball, putty, play dough, or another fidget make effective calming tools and are easy to carry around. Put a couple of them in your purse so you are ready whenever the need arises.
Help them burn excess energy. When someone is feeling upset, mad, or anxious, a relief can come in the form of getting rid of that excess negative energy. Large toys that encourage physical activity, such as a net swing or a trampoline, will be your friends in these situations. Watch your child go from an unhappy frown to laughter as they play!
Surprise them. When children are experiencing strong emotions, a toy can act as a great distraction. Sometimes just the surprise of something different like a toy to interact with can help a child move on from whatever is making them upset. Then an adult can address the issue later when the child is calm.