You know those days when everything goes wrong. It can start out as something minor like the bus is running late and then more small annoyances keep happening. Your child then won’t come to the table at dinner time and you snap! We have all been there more than once. The small things just keep piling up until it explodes

The trick is to deal with each thing as they happen. If we can work through each emotion we feel, accept it and move on then it is less likely to build up

To use the example of the bus running late. The fact is that it is frustrating, how does frustrating feel in your body? For me my heart beats faster and my breathing is shallow. In this situation I would also have some fear that I will be late which gives me butterflies in my stomach. To help myself first of all I acknowledge the feelings and sensations I am having and name them. I tell myself that it is ok that I am feeling frustrated and fearful it is just a feeling which will pass. I take some deep breaths which automatically calm my body and mind while also allowing the feeling to pass, it only takes a couple of minutes then I can move on with my day.

If I didn’t let the emotion run its course I would be pushing it inside, the frustration and fear would still be with me through the day so when I got work and my favourite coffee shop had a line that frustration would surface again with the added frustration of earlier. You can see how each time something happened that day the emotions would compound.

The same things happen for our children, they don’t have the breakfast they wanted, they weren’t allowed TV before school, they didn’t want to get their shoes and socks on because they wanted to finish the Lego they were building, their teacher was away so they had a substitute, their friend didn’t want to play with them at lunch, you said no to a play date, their brother chose the TV channel first.

You then ask them to come to the table for dinner and they explode! Everything throughout the day has been bottled inside and something you say each day has caused this massive eruption! There is nothing that you can do or say that helps them calm down and then everyone in the family wears the brunt of it. Dinner and bedtime are delayed and no one is happy.

It is very hard to calm down once you have hit the exploding emotional outburst – don’t even attempt to try to negotiate or talk sense to them as they are unable to listen. The nervous system is overwhelmed and they need to calm this and their mind down before you can discuss anything with them.

I highly recommend the following items to help them regulate themselves after an emotional outburst

  • Glitter jar, snow globe or another liquid timer – this gives the mind something to focus on, the movement of what is in the water is peaceful and also lasts a minute or 2. It may need to be repeated a couple of times depending on the situation. It allows the mind to slow and breathing to regulate
  • Guided meditation – encourage them to lay on the floor or bed or even sitting on some comfortable pillows wrapped in a blanket and put on a guided meditation. There are plenty on spotify, podcasts like bedtime explorers or you tube. Explain that their brain just needs a rest for a few minutes and then once it is finished they will feel better. This may be resisted to start with but the more they meditate the better they understand their body and how to relax it
  • Mindful colouring in – this is a great way to clear the mind and do something relaxing. Just a few minutes of colouring in will help settle the mind and body. There are so many different types of mindfulness colouring in books that are reasonably priced, get something that interests them like unicorns or animals. Why not have some colourful gel pens or textas available to make it even more appealing
  • Go outside for a few minutes – It’s amazing what fresh air and nature does for the mind and body. Take a short walk around the garden or down the street, count the birds, find some flowers or alternate your steps from giant to lollipop steps giving the mind something else to focus on.
  • Blowing bubbles – Because blowing bubbles requires you to breath deeply and release air slowly it is one of the best ways to calm down. You may have a bubble wand or even blow through a straw into the sink with some soap which makes bubbles and a funny noise to go with it.

The most important part is that you keep calm and not get caught up in the emotion which is very difficult. Once you are caught up in the emotion then it is even harder to help them. If we can understand that this is a normal part of growing up and by helping them find a way to calm themselves at a young age we are helping them for the rest of their life. A couple of deep breaths before you start will help you attend to them in a calm manner.

When your child is calm you can then talk about what happened and the feelings that they had. You can then come up with a plan together on how to deal with their emotions in a different way in the future.

Our programs focus on dealing with emotions and mindfulness activities. for more information on how we can help yo visit our programs page