Let’s face it – we all get upset from time to time and seem to lose it at other times. This happens to children too and they need our help to learn how to cope with their emotions. It is important to first stay calm ourselves when our children are throwing a tantrum or are upset. Here are some phrases to help calm your child in different situations!
#1 Instead of: “Wake up and stop Whining!”
Try: “I feel like sleeping longer too, but maybe you have things that you want to do and it’s good to wake up early?”
Your child may have difficulty waking up because of poor sleep from the night before. It’s always wise to take a step back and consider if there is a reason behind your child’s actions. Whether for your child or in your own life, it is good to frame situations positively – instead of shouting at your child to wake up, it is good to encourage her to think of the things that she can do with the extra time she has. This also reminds your child that she is responsible for her life and to make the best use of it.
#2 Instead of: “Stop YELLING now!”
Try: “I can’t hear if you’re shouting; shall we not talk and count our breaths?”
It’s of no help telling someone to stop yelling by yelling at that person. Your child also has to learn that noone has to tolerate and listen to her yelling. It is good to equip your child with ways to calm herself down and deep breathing is an easy method to use. As the child is young, you can teach her more animated ways such as counting breaths or pretending to blow balloons.
#3 Instead of: “Eat your food or you have nothing to eat!”
Try: “Do you have a more yummy and healthy snack that you can make?”
Mealtimes should never be battle time and especially during the preschooler years, mealtimes can easily escalate into a contest of wills as your child tries to exert her independence. If your child doesn’t want to eat the food presented to her, you can place the responsibility back to her if she has a better alternative. She may come to a conclusion that the one presented to her is the best one. If she wants to make a snack, she has to be the one doing it and cleaning up; it may seem like too time-consuming and messy but the outcomes are likely positive – your child will either realize that she is able to take responsibility for her own meals or conclude that it’s best left to you.
#4 Instead of: “I won’t love you if you do this!”
Try: “This is not a behavior that I like and it may hurt yourself or others.”
Your child feel secure when she knows she is loved no matter what. Focus on the behavior that is not acceptable and let your child know the consequences of her behavior. If the behavior crosses certain boundaries that you have previously set, let your child know that those boundaries are to stay and her behavior has to be corrected. Be objective about it rather than try to use the emotional hold that you have over your child to get her to do things your way.
#5 Instead of: “Stop throwing things! Stop, just stop!”
Try: “Does throwing the things away mean that you don’t want to play with it? If so, I think I can find places that will appreciate the donation of these toys.”
It is easy to be upset especially when you think of the mess that you need to clean up with all the things that are thrown around. However, take the chance to teach your child that how she acts will have consequences. if you throw things, it means they are not being treasured and as such, ought to be donated to children who will appreciate them. This places the responsibility on your child to act accordingly and pause to think what her actions communicates.
#6 Instead of: “Do you want to get slapped for this?”
Try: “This is not acceptable behavior and it has to stop. Go to your room and calm yourself for a few minutes”
Sometimes when you’re so upset that you feel like hitting your child – stop yourself. Hitting communicates that physical aggression is acceptable and can be used to resolve situations. Children model after their parents and if you hit your child to resolve the situation, she may hit someone else in school to resolve another situation. It is good to ask your child to take a moment to calm down and it is also an opportunity for you to calm yourself.
#7 Instead of: “We’re leaving NOW! Right now!”
Try: “What do you need to do to get ready to leave?”
It is easy to get stressed and start shouting when you’re running late and your child is not yet ready to leave. Instead of shouting and get into a power struggle, let your child know (earlier) that it is time to leave and that she has to get ready. Sometimes we may not feel comfortable leaving home without getting certain things done and it can be unsettling for your child. Try role-modeling this with your child as well and everyone in your family is a role model too.
#8 Instead of: “Stop complaining!”
Try: “Complaining doesn’t help to make things better, let’s think of a way to make the situation better.”
Complaining doesn’t help and instead has been researched to be bad for our health as it raises blood pressure, increases the risk of heart disease, obesity and diabetes. Moreover, it has also been researched that the brain can have the same thought more easily if it has that thought before. Thus, it is helpful to equip your child to think positively from young and it is a good reminder for you to do so too!
#9 Instead of: “Don’t be angry!”
Try: “Let’s find a way to release anger and get back to what we have to do.”
It is not possible to never get angry or encourage your child to keep it bottled. Instead, try figuring a way to release those angry feelings. You can try a few ways with your child to see which works best – exercise, controlled breathing, muscle relaxation or listening to calming music.
#10 Instead of: “I can’t deal with you right now.”
Try: “Let’s start over in a minute.”
It is not good to walk out on family even in stressful situations. Instead let your child know that you can deal with her when you are able to do so. Your child can then learn that family members help each other, but everyone should be given the space to do so.
You will come across situations when your child will get upset. However, you can control how you feel, and help guide your child to deal with her emotions better. While these may seem insignificant, overtime, it is equipping your child with an essential life skill.