See Part 1.
2. Put Together a Calming Routine
Once you’ve tested out some of these activities, make a list of three to five activities that you think will work best to help your child with self-calming. Choose activities that seem easy for your child to understand and use, since everything is harder for kids when they are upset.
Keep the materials for your child’s self-calming routine together in a little basket or bag. If your child reads or understands pictures, you can make a little checklist using words or pictures to show them the routine. You can call it “Relaxation routine,” or something appealing to your child like “Ninja skills.” If your child doesn’t understand pictures, you can simply show them the routine using the materials themselves.
3. Teach Your Child the Calming Routine
It’s best to find a time when your child is calm to teach them their new routine. No one learns new skills well when they are already upset. (Just imagine if you were totally furious or stressed and someone tried to get you to learn a new yoga pose!)
You can set up your picture or written to-do list, or simply line up the activities at a table. Help your child move through each activity in their self-calming routine. You can demonstrate how to do the activities or give your child instructions in whatever way they understand best.
4. Put it On the Schedule
Once your child is familiar with the routine, try putting it onto their daily schedule before activities that are likely to challenge them or make them upset. The best way to respond to a meltdown is to prevent it all together!
Eventually, you can introduce the self-calming routine when your child is just starting to become upset, but before they are in a total meltdown.
It’s a good idea to practice inserting the routine into their schedule unexpectedly into their day when they are calm. You can stop them mid-activity and say “Time to do your relaxation routine!” If your child has practice being interrupted and asked to do the relaxation sequence, they are less likely to see it as a punishment or to respond poorly when you ask them to do it as they are becoming upset.
Finding the right activities to help your child become calm can take some trial-and-error work. You may also find that over time, they become bored with the activities and need new materials in the mix. But taking the time to teach your child the skills they need to manage their emotions can lay the groundwork for a lifetime of emotional well-being.
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