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March 13, 2024

Finding Calm for Both You and Your Child

We all have the best of intentions for parenting our children, AND this is so HARD! Sometimes our kids know just what buttons to push.

When you find ourself at the end of your rope and about to lose it with your child, here are a few things that can help!

  • Go outside or put them in water

Going outside or taking a bath, even just holding an ice cube, can help reset the nervous system. When we are feeling emotional, we have a difficult time accessing our logical brains. Toddlers are already pretty illogical so when they can’t access the small bit of logical thinking they have, it can feel catastrophic! *cue the tantrum* If we can reset their nervous system, they might be able to hear what we have to say.

  • Narrate What is Going On

Now that we know toddlers are pretty illogical AND when they are throwing a tantrum, they are fully in their emotional brain. It can be helpful to narrate what is going on for them.

“I know you wanted to play with that toy and you are having some big feelings about it. It makes sense that you are crying right now, I would love to help you through it! Maybe we can take good deep breaths? Or give big hugs?”

We may not always get it right, but we can start to give voice to their feelings. We often lash out when we don’t have the words to describe what we feel or need. By narrating their tantrums and big feelings, you are adding to their emotional vocabulary.  

  • Good Deep Breaths

The way we are breathing directly impacts our nervous system. Teaching kids to take good deep breaths, the same way you might when you are frustrated, can give them a way to cope with their big feelings.

How do you teach a toddler to take good deep breaths?

Modeling! From the time they are babies crying, taking good deep breaths while holding them. When they get older and are throwing tantrums, telling them to take some good deep breaths and doing it with them. Describing your good deep breaths when you feel overwhelmed “Mommy’s really frustrated right now, I am going to take some good deep breaths, can you help me?”

  • Walk Away

If you feel frustrated, overwhelmed, or angry. SET THE BABY DOWN! Put the toddler in their room (if you are able to: make their room a safe space you can leave them in for a few minutes) Walk away and take a few good deep breaths for yourself.

They are so loved; it does not make you a bad mom to need a minute. When you are sleep deprived and overstimulated, your logical brain is not working either. It is far better to set them in a safe space and calm yourself than to do something you can’t take back.

  • Shift Your Perspective

What we feed will grow—What you pay attention to, will be much easier to notice. When we think about all of the negative things that happen in parenthood (i.e. lack of sleep, crying, teething, tantrums) those things are much easier to notice and this season of life can feel impossible. However, when we are able to notice the positive moments (i.e. our child smiling at us, our toddler learning a new phrase, the big hugs and kisses) those will become easier to spot.

There are so many factors to living a happy life, and I won’t pretend that just looking for the positives can somehow completely outweigh the negative moments. I will suggest that it can help to make the negative moments feel a bit less heavy.

Babies cry, toddlers have tantrums, and parents have big feelings too. It is all a part of being human. It can be so helpful to have some tools and strategies to turn to when these things happen. Thinking of our littles as humans who are learning to handle their emotions provides a perspective that they are not just trying to make our life difficult (even if it feels that way sometimes)!