Dealing with emotions can be tricky for preschoolers . . . and anyone, really. Emotions are a tricky thing and the way we deal with them can have a huge impact on our day.
With 6 kids in my house, we have a lot of emotions going around. By far, the strongest emotions come from my preschooler. We’ve learned some tricks to help preschoolers calm down. These tricks are sanity savers and we definitely get a lot of opportunities to use them.
Helping a Preschooler Calm Down
Step in before things escalate. This is not something I do all the time. That may surprise you. I believe kids need the chance to learn to deal with their emotions in a safe environment. If we don’t let them practice that at home, they’ll face challenges later on. But, there are sometimes when we want to avoid a preschooler meltdown. When that’s the case, I try and step in when I see my preschooler getting upset and redirect her attention to something else. Nine times out of ten, that does the trick.
Talk about what your preschooler is feeling. Talking can be a powerful tool. When preschoolers are dealing with hard emotions their first response is often to act out. Talking about what they are feeling and why can help your preschooler make sense of their emotions and let them know that you are on their side.
A resource I just recently discovered that makes this process so much easier is The Moodsters Talking Plush and Activity Books. These take the pressure off and make it easy to talk about emotions with your preschooler.
The other day, my preschooler was struggling. She’s going through a phase when not getting her way makes her super sad and has the potential to ruin her entire day. I wish I could tell her that she’ll usually get her way in the future, but unfortunately, that’s just not how life works. It’s important to me that she learns how to handle her emotions now when the stakes are low so she doesn’t run into more serious consequences as she gets older.
We pulled out The Moodsters “When I Feel Sad” Activity Book with the matching talking plush and sat down to talk about what she was feeling.
The talking plush was a great ice breaker. It said things like “If you are feeling sad, unhappy or blue, talking to a friend is a good thing to do” and “A smile is just a frown turned upside down”. One phrase sounded just like her big brother so we both laughed at that.
The activity book includes several stories and situations kids might find themselves in and has stickers that you can use to complete the picture or do simple activities as you work through the book.
The stickers provided a great tactile distraction while we talked about emotions. She was not in a mood to just sit and talk with me but having the stickers and activity book as a buffer made a huge difference.
Talk about what your preschooler could do differently. I’m a firm believer that we need to give kids solutions. They often act out because they don’t know how to handle those emotions. It may take some practice, but giving your preschooler a few possible solutions may make the dealing with the next emotional situation a bit easier.
Redirect. Focusing for too long on things kids are struggling with can backfire. There’s a story told about about a man who holds a heavy jar in each hand with his arms held out. After a while, the jars became heavier and heavier. Eventually, he was not able to hold them at all. Putting the jars down for a bit left him rested and he was able to pick them up again. We can learn a lot from that. We need to learn to put down our problems every once in a while and step away. Teaching kids to do that while they are young can make a big impact on how they deal with difficult things later on in life.
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