When speaking to your child you will first want to check your body and go low to connect at their eye level. Along with your body, use a low, firm tone of voice. A calm, low voice will project an expected behavior in your child. You'll notice if you do not use a low tone that your child will disregard what you were trying to say.
It is important to stay calm, so that your child can stay calm. Your child will mirror your reaction. If you go big, then they will do the same. When your child is displaying big emotions you will want to give them space and time.
3. Calm Place
Put together a calm space bin with tools and strategies that will support your child. Ask your child what tools they would like to have in the bin. Teach your child how to use each tool. This mobile bin can be moved around the home to any desired space.
Tip: this is not a time to play, but a time to de-escalate and reflect.
As your child's behavior starts to escalate, one thing you can ask is, "What does your body (or brain) need right now?" Your child might come up with solutions like take a break, go for a walk, go for a run, get my calm space bin. Their ideas might be different than what you are anticipating. What you think their brain might need might be different than what they think their brain might need. It is important to let them guide this in order to not trigger an even bigger reaction.
Telling your child about the next situation beforehand, and the expected behaviors, allows your child to mentally rehearse the experience before it happens. This can reduce the number of behavior flare ups. For example, before going to the grocery store, explain that the expected behavior is to stay close to the cart, use an inside voice and that we are only shopping for food items today.
Give your child choices. This allows the child to feel like they are in control, while giving parents the parameters around the desired behavior. Too many choices might seem overwhelming to a child, so keeping it to two options is best.
Example: Do you want to do your math homework first, or do you want to do your reading first?
Example: For a snack, would you like a yogurt or apple slices.
7. Let Them Struggle
Our goal is to have our kids grow up to be independent and productive members of society. Although we tend to dive in and save them at the first signs of struggle, it is through these challenging moments where they learn grit, persistence, and resilience. Your child will be more likely to try out a new experience again in the future.
8. Quality Time
Enjoy spending time with your child doing something they love. Scheduling these special moments is at the heart of forming those lifelong connections and memories. For families with multiple children, try spending time one-on-one with each child. Don't be afraid to sit down on the carpet when your child wants to play their favorite card game or build legos or dress up their doll.
9. Identifying Emotions
When your child displays big emotions, have them identify the feeling they are feeling and the strategy or tool that they need at the moment. Identifying the emotion is a form of self-regulation. Try using the Zones of Regulation. For more on Zones, click below.
Setting up a routine for each part of your day allows your child to see what their future selves will think and feel. Routines limit the unknowns by rehearsing clear expectations for automaticity, which can decrease worry or anxiety.