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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
These 'Be Calm' experiences focus on breathing.
Ask your child to pretend they are holding a candle in front of them. Invite them to take a really deep breath in through their nose and then blow out their candle by breathing out through their mouth. Alternatively, ask them to pretend they are holding a bubble wand. Again, invite them to take a deep breath in through their nose and then blow their ‘bubbles’ by breathing out through their mouth.
Ask your child to place their hands around their mouth as if they were about to blow up a balloon. Explain that they need to take a deep breath in through their nose and as they slowly exhale through their mouth, start to spread their hands out as if they are blowing up a great big balloon. Ask them to hold their hand position as they inhale again and then spread their hands further as they exhale. Once their balloon is as big as it can be, they can gently sway from side to side as they release their 'balloon' up into the sky.
These 'Be Calm' experiences focus on movement.
This can be carried out standing, sitting or laying down. Explain to your child that we are going to start at the top of our body and tense up all of our muscles. Explain that to tense up means to hold really tightly. Start by tensing your face muscles, holding them for 5 seconds and then releasing them. Continue all the way down the body with your shoulders, fingers, tummy and so on, tensing each for 5 seconds and then letting go and moving onto the next one.
Give your child something that they can hold and squeeze. This could be a piece of playdough or clay, a soft toy, a wet sponge or even a piece of paper. Model squeezing the item in your hand for 5 seconds as you breathe in and then releasing your hand as you breathe out again.
These 'Be Calm' experiences support children's self esteem.
Encourage your child to think of something that they can do or are really good at and say it out loud, for example “I can ride a trike”, “I can write my name” or “I can jump really high."
Ask your child to lay on their back and close their eyes. Explain that we are going on holiday to the most amazing place. Encourage your child to help you tell the story of where you are going, for example you could start by saying “We’re going on holiday; how shall we get there?” Ask questions such as “What shall we eat?” or “What will we play with?”
UP provides essential guidance, resources and information on how to deliver effective learning experiences for your children. There is something on UP for everyone; why not download UP and see what amazing experiences you will find for your family?
UP provides our educators with a wealth of quality learning experiences and essential guidance. UP pushes the boundaries to deliver even better learning outcomes, giving Busy Bees children the very best start in life. There is something on UP for all educators; download UP and see how this can enhance your practice today!