Here are 6 activities which may help calm your child:
When a young child is very upset, frustrated, angry or sad, telling him/her to 'calm down' isn't going to help. What can you do?
Depending on the situation, the age and personality of the child he/she may benefit from:
a relaxing activity
a distraction, or
an appropriate outlet for pent up anger or frustration
1. Bubble blowing
Blowing bubbles is an easy yet fun activity. Taking a deep breath and blowing hard enough to make a bubble encourages your child to take slow deep breaths rather than doing the shallow breathing an upset child is prone to. When you take slow deep breaths you feel calmer.
Children enjoy watching the bubbles float away and the colours can be magical. Your child may smile and laugh as he/she tries to catch the bubbles. It can also be a relaxing activity for Mum.
2. Rocking chair
We tend to associate senior citizens with rocking chairs, but they can also be calming for youngsters. It was my first child who taught me this. He was an overactive lad who sometimes had difficulty winding down. He asked if we could get him a rocking chair. We found a child sized one and he used it regularly when he needed to calm down.
If your child is too young to control a rocking chair, place him/her on your lap while you rock back and forth in an adult sized rocking chair.
A swing acts in much the same way. The regular back and forth motion is soothing.
3. A walk
A change of scene may help. The physical activity of walking will help calm a child who is old enough to walk by himself. Even popping a younger child into a stroller and going for a walk has benefits. Point out interesting things along the way to distract from whatever has been upsetting him/her.
4. Energetic outdoor activities
Playing and running around outside can be a good way to 'let off steam'. The physical activity will help get rid of pent up energy if your child is angry. Kicking a soccer ball or hitting a tennis ball uses energy and is socially acceptable, whereas kicking or hitting people isn't.
Perhaps you can go to a playground where your child can climb and use a variety of equipment.
5. Play dough
Using play dough can be either a calming activity or an outlet for frustration.
If you make your own, you could add some vanilla essence or lavender oil to the recipe. Both these fragrances are calming.
Gently squeezing a ball of play dough can be like using a stress ball. Thumping a ball of play dough and rolling it with force are ways of getting rid of frustration without hurting anyone or breaking anything.
Sand has a pleasing sensory quality and letting sand trickle through the fingers is relaxing. Sifting and pouring sand has a calming effect and is something even a toddler can do.
An older child can make a scene using plastic miniature toys and perhaps create a story to work through something that is upsetting her/him.
Alternatively, they may choose to create a fantasy world to get their mind off whatever has been upsetting them.
It is handy to have a variety of suitable activities for your child when they are finding it difficult to calm down.
When my daughter started daycare, I spent a lot of time trying to find the right fit for her and our family. I did a lot of research and asked a lot of questions. Over and over again though, the answer to my question would come back the same, "she'll be fine."
I want hours upon hours of delicious sleep followed by hot cups of tea, reading my book and nothingness. But I'll have to get up now to comfort, feed, clean, dress, entertain, love, laugh, play, and repeat.