12 Phrases to Calm Your Upset Child

By: Symone Grady

iStock-516417214.jpgLet's face it, every child can benefit from anger management skills. As a parent, it is up to us to lay the foundation for our child to develop this skill set. One way to achieve this is to begin governing our own emotions in the presence of our little ones. "Monkey see, Money Do" right? The next time you are dealing with a tantrum from your little one, try one of these phrases:

1. Instead of: Don’t you dare hit!
Try this: It’s OK to be angry, but I won’t let you hit. We need to keep everyone safe.

This gets the message firmly across that the emotion is OK, but the action is not. Separating the two will help your child learn to do likewise.

2. Instead of: You’re being so difficult!
Try this: This is a tough one, huh? We’re going to figure this out together.

When children are digging in their heels, it is important to understand why. This phrase reinforces the idea that you are on the same team, working toward the same goal.

3. Instead of: That’s it, you’re getting a time out!
Try this: Let’s go to our calm down space together.

This flips the script of “time out” to “time in,” allowing for reconnection instead of isolation.

4. Instead of: Brush your teeth right now!
Try this: Do you want to brush Elmo’s teeth first or yours?

For toddlers, tantrums are a way to exert control over their environment. This way, you are offering your toddler a choice, and in turn, some control.

5. Instead of: Eat your food or you will go to bed hungry!
Try this: What can we do to make this food yummy?

This places the responsibility of finding a solution back on your child.

6. Instead of: Your room is disgusting! You are grounded unless this gets clean.
Try this: How about we just start cleaning this itty-bitty corner of your room? I’ll give you a hand.

In lieu of focusing on the overwhelming task of cleaning up a huge mess, shift the goal to simply starting. Starting an undesirable task can provide the impetus and momentum to continue.

7. Instead of: We. Are. LEAVING!
Try this: What do you need to do to be ready to leave?

Allow children to think through processes for the transitions in their lives. This helps avoid a power struggle and it gives them a chance to signal to their minds that they are making a transition to a new activity. This is also an excellent routine to role-play when you are not actually going anywhere.

8. Instead of: Stop whining!
Try this: How about a quick “do over” in your normal voice?

Sometimes kids whine and don’t even realize it. By asking them to rephrase in a normal tone, you are teaching them that the way they say things matters.

9. Instead of: Stop complaining!
Try this: I hear you. Can you come up with a solution?

Again, this places the responsibility back on the child. Next time your child is complaining non-stop about school/dinner/siblings, ask her to brainstorm solutions. Remind her there are no wrong answers, and the sillier she is, the better.

10. Instead of: How many times do I have to say the same thing???
Try this: I can see you didn’t hear me the first time. How about when I say it to you, you whisper it back to me?

Having your child repeat back what he hears solidifies your message. Varying the volume adds an element of fun to the request.

11. Instead of: Stop getting frustrated!
Try this: Is that ___ too hard right now? Let’s take a break and come back to it in 17 minutes.

It sounds random, but a research-based formula for productivity is to work for 52 minutes, break for 17. By taking a break from task-related stress, you come back to it ready to begin again, focused and more productive than before. The same concept applies to homework, practicing the piano, or playing a sport.

12. Instead of: I can’t deal with you right now!
Try this: I’m starting to get frustrated, and I’m going to be right here calming down.

Teach children how to label and govern their emotions by modeling this in real time.

Source: Huffington Post

Tags: Parent Tips, Anger Management in Children