As parents, we try to teach our children skills to cope with life’s inevitable disappointments and frustrations. We often forget, however, that our children are learning more by watching our responses when life doesn’t go our way.
Take me, for instance. When my five children hear me yell at traffic during our morning commute, what they are really learning is that you scream and call people names if life doesn’t go your way. When I catch them fighting, I think to myself, “Who taught them to act like this?” Very quickly, I shake my head and laugh!
So how do we teach children to calm themselves and deal with life’s upsets?
- Teach ourselves calming strategies first, and teach our children second. It’s the airplane oxygen mask scenario – you are no help to those around you if you’ve passed out.
- Model calming. A young child’s self regulation system is not developed enough to self-soothe, so if we are calm, they can start to calm.
- Breathe. Getting enough oxygen permits us to access the higher centers of our brains that house executive skills like impulse control, empathy, and flexibility.
Try the breathing techniques below from Loving Guidance, Inc. Practice them when your child is calm, so that when they go “bug crazy mad”, you can recall strategies together and get to “oozy, doozy caterpillar calm” even sooner.
As you begin, remember that the human brain takes a mere 24 years to fully develop. So breathe, you only have 20+ years to go!
Information taken from Conscious Discipline by Dr. Becky Bailey (Loving Guidance, Inc.)