Say what? 10 phrases that will help you calm down your child

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  Published on Wednesday, 07 March 2018

Say what? 10 phrases that will help you calm down your child

Library Home  >  Parenting & Family Life
  Published on Wednesday, 07 March 2018
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Sometimes parenting isn't all giggles and smiley faces. And whether your toddler is having a tantrum at the checkout or your older child is complaining about everything, it can be hard to keep your cool when your offspring is losing theirs.

There's good news, though, because with some carefully chosen words (and a deep breath), parents can help kids manage their emotions and feel better faster.

To this end, Rebecca Eanes, at Positive Parenting, has highlighted some phrases often used by parents in the heat of the moment, and provided alternative – and more calming – ways for adults to respond to children.

Here's the thinking behind the talking!

1. Instead of saying: "Don't you dare hit!"

Try saying: "It's ok to be angry, but I won't let you hit. We need to keep everyone safe."

Ms Eanes says this approach, "Gets the message firmly across that the emotion is ok, but the action is not. Separating the two will help your child learn to do likewise."

2. Instead of saying: "That's it, you're getting a time out!"

Try saying: "Let's go to our calm down space together."

It's a good idea to put the focus on reconnection rather than isolation, and here 'time out' is transformed into 'time in'.

3. Instead of saying: "Brush your teeth right now!"

Try saying: "Do you want to brush dolly's teeth first or yours?"

When it comes to younger children, Ms Eanes explains that, "Tantrums are a way [for toddlers] to exert control over their environment. This way, you are offering your toddler a choice, and in turn, some control."

4. Instead of saying: "Stop whining!"

Try saying: "How about you try again in your normal voice?"

Whining hits many parents right in the 'annoying' spot, but sometimes children whine without even realising they're doing it. By asking them to use a normal tone, you're teaching the importance of how things are said.

5. Instead of saying: "Stop complaining!"

Try saying: "I hear you. Can you come up with a solution?"

This response also puts the responsibility back on your child. If they're complaining about something constantly, ask your tyke to brainstorm solutions. There are no wrong answers, says Ms Eanes, and the sillier, the better.

6. Instead of saying "Big kids don't do this!"

Try saying: "Big kids and even grown-ups sometimes have big feelings. It's ok, these feeling will pass. "

Emotions come part and parcel with being human, so it's important to acknowledge that feelings like anger, frustration and anxiety exist and encourage children to 'process them in a healthy manner'.

7. Instead of saying: "How many times do I have to say the same thing? "

Try saying: "I can see you didn't hear me the first time. How about when I say it to you, you whisper it back to me?"

This approach gets your child's attention, solidifies your message and adds a bit of fun to proceedings. After all, whispering is much more enjoyable than SHOUTING!

8. Instead of saying: "Stop throwing things!"

Try saying: "When you throw your toys, I think you don't like playing with them. Is that what's going on?"

Ms Eanes calls this a 'speaker/listener technique' which lets you communicate feelings in a non-confrontational manner, keep the lines of communication open and explain things from an individual perspective.

9. Instead of saying: "Eat your food or you will go to bed hungry!"

Try saying: "What can we do to make this food yummy?"

Dinner can be a drawn out affair when kids are involved, but instead of becoming frustrated by your picky eater, give them the responsibility of finding a solution.

10. Instead of saying: "Stop yelling!"

Try saying: "I'm going to pretend that I'm blowing out birthday candles. Will you do it with me?"

The best thing about this technique is that you'll feel a lot calmer too. Ms Eanes says that, "Being playful with how you engage in the breathing hastens cooperation. For older children, ask them to breathe with you like Darth Vadar does."

And on that note, may the calm be with you! And the smiley faces too.

This child care article was last reviewed or updated on Thursday, 06 February 2020

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