Anger or anxiety can be difficult emotions for children to manage. Parents may also sometimes find themselves wondering how they can help to teach their children to control these difficult emotions. Anger and anxiety are often the result of over- or under-stimulation. If you are a parent of a child with emotional or sensory challenges, you may find these self-regulation tips helpful.
It can be difficult to stay calm when a child throws a tantrum. But one of the best ways to teach a child self-regulation is to model calm behavior. Instead of meeting anger with anger or frustration with frustration, try calmly stating your feelings and explaining how you are going to handle them. When a child acts out, make sure to acknowledge their frustrations and encourage conversation about why they are feeling angry or anxious and what they should do to manage those feelings. This is a great opportunity to show a child that you can empathize with them and that they are not alone in feeling frustrated or angry. After this is established, your child will likely be more willing to let you help them develop healthy self-regulation strategies.
Calming Activities for Children
Every child is different, so it’s important to experiment with different things to determine what will help your child self-regulate. When a child is bombarded with stressors, it’s important to find out what can help to desensitize the child to them. There are several things to experiment with:
- Proprioceptive Activities. These are activities that stimulate the joints and muscles. You can try applying gentle pressure to your child’s head and shoulders, rolling your child up in a blanket, or letting your child go for a walk.
- Vestibular Activities. These are activities that exercise your child’s balance. These activities can include swinging, jumping on a trampoline, and rocking back and forth.
- Deep Pressure Activities. These are activities that stimulate tactile and proprioception sense. Try giving your child a big bear hug, squeezing hands and feet, or having your child lie under a weighted blanket.
- Prepare a Sensory Hideout. Having a sensory hideout in your home is a great way for a child to have a safe space to go to when they are feeling over- or under-stimulated. Use a small tent or a draped blanket or curtain to create a secluded area. Fill the area with soft cushions, soft lighting, and activities for stimulation.
Many of the above activities can be done by your child by themselves when feeling angry or anxious. Teaching your child these behaviors provides them with coping mechanisms they can utilize when you are not with them. The Connections Therapy Center therapists also have access to a specially-designed sensory room that they can visit with families. If you’re interested in trying out different self-regulation strategies to see what works for your child, talk to our therapists about scheduling a visit to the sensory room!
The Connections Therapy Center
The Connections Therapy Center is a top therapy center serving families of children and adolescents with disabilities. Our team consists of the leading experts in the fields of pediatric speech, occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and behavior sciences. We offer intensive, hands-on therapy for children and adolescents as well as resources for families. We are real therapists helping real families with real issues. If you are concerned about your child’s behavior, take a moment to fill out our quick questionnaire. If you’d like to schedule an appointment, call 202-561-1110 (Washington, D.C. office) or 301-577-4333 (Lanham office) or contact us via our website. Want to keep up with our latest news and blog posts? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.