Helping your child deal with anger with a cool-down area
I’m so mad! I’m so mad! I’m so mad! Those are the only words I have heard in the past 10 minutes. My 5-year-old has been dealing with some seriously big emotions lately. He has always been our most sensitive child by far, but in the past few months things have escalated.
I have worked to put some strategies in place to help him learn how to deal with his emotions, as well as giving myself a plan of how to handle it while still holding onto some of my sanity.
Give kids a choice
We talk a lot about how it is ok to be angry, but not to scream, throw things or hurt people. What is currently working well for us is this: when I notice that my son is starting get angry, I help him talk through choices he can make. (I am hoping that my husband will make me a fun poster I can hang up that reminds my kids of some choices they could make.)
If my son gets to the point of starting to melt down, I will count to 3; he has that amount of time to either choose to go to his room or the cool-down area. If he doesn’t make the choice on his own I will carry him to his room, and he will then lose his TV time that day. I only had to carry him once, so it is working pretty well for us.
I created a cool-down area with a comfy place to sit and a basket full of items to help my kids calm down. Right now it has a wooden toy with pegs to hammer, a find it toy, a stuffed animal, a stress ball, a plastic water bottle with glitter water to shake, crayons and some books on emotions. At one point I used a little tent for our cool-down spot, but currently it is just a comfy chair in our laundry room. I have found with younger kids that they tend to use the cool-down area more if it is on the main floor of the house, and not upstairs.
All of the kids use this spot from time to time. I love that they know they always have the option to go there to be alone. In a house with multiple kids who are home all day together, teaching them when to walk away is a big deal.
Take a break
Just recently, when I felt like I was about to lose it, I said I needed to go cool down and read for 10 minutes on my bed. It certainly isn’t always possible for the parent to walk away, but when it is possible, definitely do it! Not only does it give you time to calm down and refocus, it is also great for kids to see adults make good choices.
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