I have four boys. Sometimes one or more of my four boys gets angry. And me getting angry back? It doesn’t help. Sometimes they get so angry, and yet they tell me that they want to calm down and they can’t. These are some of the ways we’ve come up with to help them find calm when their bodies are filled with hormones and/or bodily systems screaming “be angry.”
If you have kids and not one of them ever struggles with moments of anger, this post is not for you. If, however, you have girls OR boys or selves who occasionally or often struggle to control their tempers . . . hopefully one of these ideas will help.
- The safe place. The safe place is where your child can go to hide from all sensory input and let his body shut down. It needs to be a place where your child is safe (that’s obvious, right?) so no access to chemicals including soaps and shampoos (the bathroom), no access to heavy objects that can be thrown. Just a quiet place. A personal tent, a bed hiding under a blanket, or a cocoon swing all work really well. The trick is to get your child to his place, and then let the quiet and the lack of over-stimulation do its work. Once they realize the value of this personal space, they will seek it out when they need a little quiet.
- Mom’s lap. Sometimes my boys get angry and cannot even verbalize why they are angry. And sometimes, it boils down to lack of one-on-one with mom. So a quiet time sitting on mom’s lap, listening to her talk softly or sing softly can work wonders. This is not for teens, but it can be just the ticket for little ones.
- A good book. Sometimes taking a break from the “work” of life to escape into and read a good book helps turn off those angry responses. If your child is too young to read, try an audiobook.
- A car ride. Let’s all go for a drive! Strapped into carseats, perhaps with a cookie from McDonalds drive thru, and an audiobook or soothing music playing while you enjoy a little interstate can help bring down the anger level.
- Physical activity. If kids are kept cooped up all day and start to blow off steam, that’s probably because all that energy (that we wish we had) has been under a pressure cooker with no chance to vent. Get them outside. Find a playground where they can run and climb. Take them hiking, or biking, or roller blading. Or get a mini-trampoline to keep in the basement for super cold days.
- The essential oil shower. I first read about this “method” of applying essential oils reading a friend’s blog about treating headaches. I quickly realized that this was a safe and effective method for helping my boys calm down. I use “calming” essential oils like At Peace or Calming. I place a few drops (about 15 or so) on the walls and floors of the shower – usually on the same wall as the handle where I am sure my boys won’t touch them directly when they stand in the spray. (My boys are also old enough that when I tell them not to touch, they won’t – so use caution with little ones and choose oils safe for kids.) The hot steam from the shower activates a strong release of the oils’ scents and fills the shower with soothing aroma. All my younger boys enjoy an EO shower to calm down.
- The essential oil roller bottle. I am so thrilled that my favorite essential oil company (Rocky Mountain Oils) came out with blends specifically formulated for kids! These oils are already diluted with coconut oil and are all chosen with kids’ safety in mind. You can hand your kids the bottle, and let them apply these oils behind the ears, on the wrists, or on the neck. Counting Sheep is a great blend for calming. I’ve also made a simple blend of 10 ml coconut oil with 6 drops of At Peace or Calming for the boys to use.
- The family dance party. Sometimes, we just need to get a little bit crazy. Fun music, turned up loud with everybody dancing is just the ticket to create laughter and fun where anger was moments ago. It’s a great release of tension!
- The empathy stance. I read this somewhere. I don’t even remember where I read this (it was a blog article), but it really does work. I’ve used this a few times now in key situations. The idea is to get down on your child’s level, even below them so that they are looking down at you. Then talk to them from an empathetic point of view. Calm, quiet, and sympathetic to their troubles. If you have a child screaming because they don’t want to go in the supermarket, or screaming in the supermarket – this is an awesome way to get to their heart instead of going head-to-head.
- The “no-electronics” day. Breaking up with electronics for a day or two never hurt anybody, and in fact it does a body good. When my boys are losing their tempers repeatedly, it’s usually because they’ve spent too much time gaming – where they can escape into a perfect virtual reality and everything revolves around them. Make one day a week or one day a month electronics free. You don’t even have to announce it! Just take all the kids on a hike and leave the devices at home.
BONUS: Sugar. Sugar can make for very angry kids. Too much sugar can make anyone angry! Try eliminating sugar (including sugar from carbs that convert to sugar in the body) for a day or two and get some protein and high quality fats into those little bodies instead. Salmon. Or an Omega-Six supplement. Or avocados made into guacamole.
How do you help your kids get calm?