Learning to regulate emotions and emotional responses can be difficult for children. Be Calm is a range of approaches that you can use with your child to support them in learning how to manage strong feelings and emotions.

When should I use ‘Be Calm’ techniques?

Although using the ‘Be Calm’ techniques will support at times of stress, practicing them throughout the day when your child is already calm and relaxed will encourage them to use them when they are upset or anxious.

You could try some of the techniques below at a quiet time during the day or in the evening when you are relaxing before bedtime. All children are unique and therefore they will respond differently to the variety of techniques described below. By using these techniques on a regular basis, you will see which strategies your child responds to best and this will help you to support them effectively at times when they are upset or anxious.

These techniques are ideal to support your child if they are feeling unsettled, upset, worried, anxious or sometimes if they are displaying unwanted behaviour. If a technique is clearly not working for your child, do not try and carry on. Stop and try another approach or leave for another day or time.

If your child has a specific need connected to diagnoses such as Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Sensory Processing Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder or who require some social, mental or emotional health support, it will be a good idea to talk to any health professionals who are supporting you to establish which may be the best approaches to use.

Be Calm and Breathe

These 'Be Calm' experiences focus on breathing.

Square breathing

Explain to your child that we are going to make a square shape with our breathing and ask them how many sides a square has. Demonstrate breathing in while drawing one side of a square with your finger in the air. Breathe out as you draw the next side, breathe in as your draw the third side and breathe out as you draw the fourth side. Encourage your child to copy your actions. What other shapes could we make while breathing?

Beach breathing

Ask your child to close their eyes and imagine that they are sitting on a warm, sandy beach. Invite them to breath in deeply through their nose and then out through their mouth, imagining their breath is the waves crashing onto the shore. Support their visualisation by describing what you can see and hear on your own beach.

Be Calm and Active

These 'Be Calm' experiences focus on movement.

Mindful walk

Go on a mindful walk with your child. Invite your child to really pay attention to the sounds they can hear, how their bodies feel (for example how does the ground feel underfoot? How does the wind feel on their faces?) and to what they can see. Can they observe anything they have never noticed before?

Clap it out or stamp it out

Encourage your child to clap as fast as they can for 10 seconds. When the time is up put your hands out in front of you, palms facing outwards. Ask them if they can feel their fingers tingling. Alternatively, ask your child to stamp their feet as quickly as they can for 10 seconds. What do their feet feel like when they’ve stopped?

Be Calm and Positive

These 'Be Calm' experiences support children's self esteem.

My weather report

Invite your child to think about how they are feeling today and likening it to the weather, for example they might be feeling sunny, stormy, or calm. Explain that we can't change the weather and we can't always change how we are feeling but we can notice how we are feeling and this is important. Sharing how we are feeling with other people can make us feel better if we are unhappy or worried.

Sow a positive seed

Explain your child that we are going to plant a magic seed in our mind. The seed we are planting is a positive or happy thought and throughout the day we will 'water' the seed in our mind to help it grow. For example the thought seed might be "I have lots of friends". This positive thought starts as a seed and then every time they think about it during the day, the thought will grow!

Be Calm for Babies

These 'Be Calm' approaches are suitable for younger children.

For babies and young children a calming environment supports their ability to handle stress and begin to self-regulate emotions.
The following may help calm your baby:

Skin to skin

Young babies benefit from skin to skin contact. Newborns who have skin to skin contact breathe better and cry less. This is because hearing your heartbeat and being close to your skin is most like being in the womb.

Change of scene.

Babies may pick up on your stress levels. If you feel like you need a break, where possible ask another family member or friend to take over for a short time. If this is not possible, give yourselves a change of scene, for example taking your baby outside into the garden, going from upstairs to downstairs or going for a walk. You could also put baby safely down in their cot or bouncy chair while continuing to talk to them while you calm your own breathing.

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