Calming Anxious Children When Words Don’t Work
As parents, it’s often frustrating when children don’t understand the words we say. It’s even worse when the child is frustrated, angry or overwhelmed to the point that the words just have no effect. This is especially true for special needs children who often lack the development and understanding. Lemon Lime Adventures has compiled a list of 15 ways to calm an anxious child when words don’t work. Keep in mind that different ones may work with different children.
- Give your child a bear hug by applying a tight, but gentle restraint with arms “locked” loosely around your child so they only feel the amount of pressure they’re exerting.
- Redirect to a favorite activity or object by calming pointing out something the child enjoys. Be sure not to turn it into a reward which could trigger more bad behavior.
- Whisper to your child, but not necessarily about the situation. A whisper could calm your child down enough for them to hear what you’re saying.
- Singing to your child can turn the situation upside down by performing a personal musical by asking “What is the problem?” in a variety of vocal styles.
- Laugh it up! Spontaneous, forceful laughter will brighten anyone’s day!
- Tickling is a tricky one, but can be useful as a sensory input rather than “making light” of their emotions. Parents should only use this method if the child likes to be tickled.
- Cuddling a weighted blanket and favorite stuffed animal can help redirect a child’s mind.
- Happy music can improve anyone’s emotions. Start dancing and ask your child to join you.
- Bath time with warm water is always soothing and can help your child relax and adjust their behavior.
- Diffusing essential oils such as Lavender, Chamomile, Cedarwood or Clary Sage may promote a calming atmosphere.
- Patience is a virtue, they say, so if you sit down beside your child and wait and not do anything, he could find his own calming mechanism. It may not work in severe cases, but could be useful if you address the situation immediately.
- Provide a calming spot for your child to calm herself down. Be sure to stay visible and let her know that she’s free to leave the area.
- Story time is always fun when you can provide a cozy place to sit and encourage them to listen. If they’re old enough, ask them to help you read the story aloud.
- Sensory play is always fun for young children. Give them play dough, sand or something else fun that they can sink their hands into and focus their energy.
- Giving your child a massage can help release tension. Apply gentle pressure to her back, shoulders or feet can be relaxing.