Children need constructive ways to deal with the range of emotions they experience. To develop constructive responses to emotions, children need to learn how to calm down. We all think more clearly when we are calm. When children especially are experiencing upsetting, unsettling, or uncomfortable feelings, it is very hard for them to think about the consequences of their actions.

You can help your child discover calming techniques, and you can teach these to your child. Then you can encourage him or her to find ways to use these techniques as specific situations present themselves.

You can probably think of a variety of ways to help your child learn to calm down. Here are just a few ideas to get you rolling:

With movement: Run in place, stamp both feet, squish some clay or Play-Doh, scribble on paper, breathe deeply, or throw a ball.

With sound: Sing a song about being mad, talk to someone, listen to marching music and march along, or listen to calm music and cuddle a stuffed animal.

By thinking: Picture being in a calm place, imagine being a snowman and melting or a string of spaghetti getting soft, or think “I can handle this.”

Through comfort: Read a book, take a bath, ask for a hug, or spend time with a friend.

Through creativity: Make up a poem or tongue twister, draw a picture, play a musical instrument (even drums made from pans), or tear up old newspaper.

With humor: Draw a silly picture, tell a funny joke, or find some humor in the situation at hand.

Help your children learn ways to calm down. Knowing how to calm down encourages thinking, which gives children the potential to discuss how they are feeling before they act out their emotions.