Dealing with big emotions? HERE IS A breathing technique to help bring calm with tantrums.
A couple of weeks ago in clinic I had a morning full of appointments with children of toddler age. Their parents were requesting help for different reasons but as usual, when I see children of this age range, the conversation inevitably turns to tantrums whether that is me checking in about whether or not they are having them (and to what extent) or the parents keen for some tips to help manage them.
My kids all threw tantrums. Two of them more than one of them but all to varying degrees. Some of the tantrum (“episodes”) are etched in my mind forever, especially the first "monster" one I experienced.
How you help with tantrums depends on the age of the child. Sometimes we simply have to step back and let kids physically wear themselves out (as long as they are not endangering themselves or anyone else). There is also a fantastic technique that you can use to help teach your child to manage their emotions more effectively.
The best way to handle a child in all-out meltdown mode varies a little bit by age and stage., however I think this belly breathing technique is great for toddlers and pre-schoolers.
Kids under five will often need you to redirect them to a specific activity that can help them calm down. Saying something like, “I can see you’re really upset. I wish I could help you calm down right now. Here, why don’t you do some deep breathing with me and see if that helps?” This is just a suggestion — you can try any activity you think will be soothing to your child or help them use their energy in a more positive way.
With kids in this age range, walking away from them during a tantrum can cause anxiety rather than calm, so it’s often best to stay within eyesight and direct your own attention to another activity until your child is calm. They will need you to role model how to calm down for them, so minimize your interaction until you’re both calm or start your belly breathing techniques then. By role modelling this calm activity it can also help you as well as them.
Its not always possible to keep your cool when your child is in full-blown tantrum mode, but it is helpful to show them that you’re not going to become unglued by their actions—and that you’re not afraid of them or their anger. Don’t give the tantrum more power than it deserves, or you may find your child using anger more and more to get what they want.
We can all benefit from breathing exercises. We can use this technique in private as a way of centering ourselves to help gain calm and feel more in control of our emotions. I hope you think it’s as useful as we have found it in our house.
The lyrics go like this . . . .
Sometimes the monster that's inside you is a monster that is mad. It's a monster who is angry. It's a monster who feels bad. When your monster wants to throw things. And your monster wants to shout. There's a way to calm your monster and chill your inner monster out.
Belly breathe. Gonna breathe right through it. Belly breathe. This is how you do it. Belly breathe. Gonna breathe right through it. Belly breathe. This is how you do it.
Put your hands on your tummy, now you're ready to begin. Put your hands on your belly and you slowly breathe in.
B-b-breathe. Belly belly. B-b-breathe. Belly, belly breathe. Feel your belly go out in and in and out. And you start to calm down without a doubt. Feel your belly go in and out and out and in. Now Elmo feels like himself again.
Belly breathe. Gonna breathe right through it. Belly breathe. This is how you do it. B-b-breathe. Belly, belly b-b-breathe. Belly, belly breathe.
Your mad monster may appear at any time and any place. And that mad monster will make you make a mad monster face. He makes you want to push, he makes you want to shove. There's a way to calm that monster. Bring out the monster love.
Belly breathe. Gonna breathe right through it. Belly breathe. This is how you do it. Belly breathe. Gonna breathe right through it. Belly breathe. This is how you do it. Belly go out and in and in and out. That's what belly breathing is all about. Feel your belly go in and out and out and in. And now I feel like myself again. Belly breathe. Gonna breathe right through it.