When a child gets upset, our first instinct is to quickly get the child to calm down. Sometimes when we do this, it escalates the situation. We should find other ways that will take time, to help the child calm down. One thing we should do is sympathize with the child by saying, “You look really angry”, followed by, “What can I do to help you calm your body?”
There can be many reasons why a child would become upset. One big reason could be that the child struggles to identify their own emotions, which is why it is important to identify the emotion by recognizing it for the child. Once we do that, it helps the child recognize what emotion they are feeling at that time. After addressing the emotion, we can then find ways to help the child calm their body.
My favorite thing to do to help a child calm their body is to read a social story. The social story that is used often is about our friend, Tucker the turtle. In this story, Tucker shows us how to calm our bodies when we feel angry. The child and I will read this story and practice the four steps that Tucker takes to help calm down the child’s body.
The first step is to recognize the emotion. Second, we stop what we are doing. For example, we halt if a child is screaming, throwing toys, etc.
Third, we take three deep breaths to help calm our body down. Last, we think of a solution to solve our problem.
This social story really encourages the child to calm down and think about a solution for future occurrences when the child feels angry. We practice the three deep breaths slowly again and talk about what we could do next time we feel that emotion.
By Casaundra Whisenhunt, Mental Health Assistant