Maybe it’s time for your child to get a shot. Maybe he’s getting ready for a long hospital stay. Or maybe, he’s just being a kid. In the moment, the reason doesn’t seem to matter—he’s anxious and fussy. All you care about is knowing the best way to calm him down.
Learning how to calm a kid is a matter of practice and experience. Having worked in a children’s hospital for years, I’ve seen my fair share of parents’ attempts to help their children calm down and relax. And I’ve learned a few tips in the process.
Next time you’re trying to calm your child, try out one of these 9 tricks:
1. Keep Calm And Don’t Say “Calm”
Avoid saying “Calm down.” Chances are, it won’t actually calm her down. It may even make her crabbier. Instead, acknowledge her feelings with phrases like, “I see that you’re having a hard time. If you’re worried about something, you can tell me about it.”
2. A Team Project
Work on the problem together. Ask questions like, “How can I help?” or “Let’s solve this problem together,” so he knows he has an ally.
3. Art From The Heart
Turn to art. Your child may not be able to express in words how she’s feeling. Give her some crayons and have her draw out her fears. It won’t just help you understand—art projects like coloring have been shown to decrease stress and anxiety.
4. Hugs And Kisses
Offer physical comfort. Sometimes, all a child needs is a big hug or a hand to squeeze to feel safe and at ease.
5. Be Right Back
Don’t be afraid to give him a little space. He may need some time to cool off by himself, and let his feelings out.
6. Lionfighters And Teddy Bears…Oh My!
Try Teddy Bear Breathing—she lies on her back, puts one hand on her chest, and places her favorite teddy on her belly button. As she breathes in slowly and deeply, the bear should rise, but her chest should not. This type of deep breathing can reduce heart rate, relax the muscles, and decrease stress levels.
Source: American Institute of Stress
7. Helping Hands
Have him put his hands in his pockets. Or he can sit on them, clasp them, or make a fist and slowly release. He will feel like he’s releasing his fears and putting his anxiety “away.”
8. Mood Music
Listen to music. There’s nothing like soothing sounds or a favorite tune to boost a child’s mood and calm her down. Just make sure it’s something you’re willing to listen to over and over again.
9. Home Sweet Home
Give him something that reminds him of home. A familiar object like a stuffed animal or blanket could make him feel like he’s in a safe and comfortable space.
Do you have ideas for how to calm a kid down? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.