Why Calming Down Sucks: 3 Human Ways To Actually Get Your Child To Manage Their Emotions

A common concern for many of us is learning how to calm down and not feeling overwhelmed when we have big, intense emotions. For children, it can feel even harder to do this! In this video we talk about why it sucks to calm down and strategies that you can use to help your child learn to manage those intense emotions!

No time to watch. Read the transcript below!

In today’s video, we’ll be talking about why it really sucks to calm down and what you can do to help your kid really learn how to calm down when they’re having really big, really intense emotions.

I know that in the past we’ve ben talking about why meltdown sucks so bad. And, we’ve also talked about how to make coping skills work. But we’re still missing that pivotal point in working with their kids which is: it’s really hard to calm down once we get revved up.

It’s not something that’s just specific to children, I think it’s something that happens when we become adults too. We feel something; we need something and that need or that feeling is not being addressed in a way that is healthy for us, so we kind of explode and we have a big meltdown.

So, today I really want to talk about those three ways that you can begin to in a mindset for why it actually does suck to calm down and what you can do to help your kid calm down.

Give Space For The Emotions

The first way that you can help your kid calm down, is to give some space. In the heat of the moment, it is always really difficult to have that discussion about how to express yourself, what to say and how to do it.  Sometimes when we have intense emotion, we just need the space to have them. Not to have someone tell us to stop and not to have someone tell us it is not the right time. In that moment, you can let your child know that you’re going give them the space to be angry, sad, upset or whatever intense feeling that you see. You can let them know that they can do it in a safe space. If they want to do it on the carpet, if they want to do it in their room, they can do that. Or if they need you just to stand there while they’re doing it, let them know that you’re there and that as long as they don’t hurt themselves or others, they can go ahead and be angry. There’re more caveats to that definitely and if we work together, we can definitely talk about how that looks in your home but the main gist of this tip is to give space for that emotion. And to be present enough to say you can be angry; you can be mad.

Give space for your child to have the emotion and let them know that, as long as they are being safe, you can let them feel what they need to feel.

Acknowledge and Validate The Emotions

The second piece actually flows right in, out of the first piece, which is really acknowledge and validate emotions. I think when we see our kids having such a hard time it triggers us and it makes us feel like you want to fix it; we want to stop it or we don’t understand.  However, if we’re being really authentic and honest with ourselves, we do understand emotions – it’s just that sometimes our kids’ emotions come at really inopportune time and we’re not always ready to deal with them. When we begin to stop, acknowledge and validate our kids’ emotions, it actually lets them know that what they’re doing isn’t the most abnormal, senseless thing in the world. But that’s it’s human to to be human. It’s human to have feelings. So you definitely want to say something like, “I see that you’re angry right now”, “I see that you’re sad right now”, or “I see that you’re crying”. To really acknowledge exactly what’s going on and let them know that it’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be sad. You don’t have to rush through that emotion; you don’t have to make it be nice and pretty. Again, there are other caveats there. If they’re hitting or being rude or hurting other people, definitely there’s some other caveats there, but I want you just to focus on the idea of letting your kids have feelings. And also letting yourself have feelings. I think again it goes back into what I always talk about that permeates every parenting strategy that you use which is having empathy for yourself first, really opens up the space to have empathy for your child when they’re going through these things.

Normalize the feelings that are coming up in your child by acknowledging them and validating them.

Get Confident In Messiness

The last tip is the strongest tip, and it’s one that I constantly tell all of my parent coaching clients. And that is, you need to start getting confident in messiness. What that means is this: when emotions happen, they are messy; they are not nice; they are not neat; they are not perfect. And we need to learn that when emotions happen, it is not in any way shape or form a commentary on your parenting, on who your child is, on who you are, or on what it is that your family is doing. It doesn’t mean that your family is bad and it doesn’t mean that your child is bad. It doesn’t mean that you’re bad and it doesn’t mean that anybody in your family has done something wrong. When we learn how to get confident in the messiness that is child raising and that is being human, we learn that it’s okay to have this fluid range of emotions. You begin to realize that you don’t have to stop it and you don’t have to make it mean something bigger than what it is. I think for what we’re doing and how I’m teaching you how to use these skills, it’s really important that you learn that it’s okay to have messiness in your family. And that’s the number one thing that you should always have in your mindset: that it doesn’t mean we’re bad family if we’re having a hard time with our emotion or if we’re having a hard time with our behaviors.

Getting confident in the messiness of raising a human allows for us to be empathetic when one member of the family is having intense emotions.

The Recap

Let’s do a quick recap. The three human ways that you can help your kid to calm down even though we know that it’s really difficult when we have big intensive motions,to calm down.

  1. Give space to the emotions: The first way, is to give them space. At that may mean that you give them space in their own room or somewhere in the house. Or it may mean that you’re present with them as they’re being upset and letting them have that space just to be authentically human.
  2. Acknowledge and validate emotions: The second way is acknowledge and validate that having emotion is human; it’s normal and there is nothing abnormal about them having emotions.
  3. Get confident in messiness: The third way is to really get confident in the messiness that is humans. I know it feels hard; I know it feels bad and I know that when things erupt in our homes, it can really bring about a lot of shame and guilt that are family just as broken and there’s something wrong with us. But really get into that understanding that it really okay to have messiness, to have feelings, even though sometimes it may be really tough and really frustrating.


5 thoughts on “Why Calming Down Sucks: 3 Human Ways To Actually Get Your Child To Manage Their Emotions”

  1. Robert R Cox says:

    What a great column. Fantastic advice I will be passing on to my parents trying to cope with autism meltdowns. I think this really offers some valid responses.

    1. Hi Robert and welcome to the blog! Thanks so much your kind words. I’m glad that you can use this as a resource for your families; hope it supports them.

  2. Leah Hartman says:

    ” … it’s really important that you learn that it’s okay to have messiness in your family. And that’s the number one thing that you should always have in your mindset: that it doesn’t mean we’re bad family if we’re having a hard time with our emotion or if we’re having a hard time with our behaviors.”

    This is amazing. I will share a recent victory, which isn’t about a meltdown but feels applicable. My husband and I recently had a conversation with a teenaer about what she’d like to do next yr when she finishes high school. Where we live there are several different good directions available to her- and for all of the them the time to begin looking into these options is soon. I walked away from the conversation feeling like I’d failed with her, like our relationship is a mess bc I can’t talk to her and she can’t talk to me without too many emotions getting in the way, and felt it was just too late. She was annoyed with me and pushed back at me, and I felt I was trying to be encouraing and open (I can see however, where my anxiety about her not caring was coming through) and I just felt awful. Thank Gd my husband didn’t see it the interaction the same way and I took his words about feeling encouraged to heart, and a few days later when something specific related to this isue came up, I felt I was really able to listen to her, speak to her, and in a good way tell her I felt that she’s making a mistake, but that I really accept whatever her decision is. And I had come to a place where I really meant that and I believe it came through, for she really took on what I was suggesting was the good thing for her to do, and we had a great connection around it.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing and I am so proud of you for managing your feelings, but also honoring that you have feelings.

  3. Leah Hartman says:

    Btw, I was introduced to your work thru the “Fine Parenting” seminar and I love what you’re doing. Thank you.

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