Phrases to calm an angry child

9 things to say to help calm your angry child

One of the hardest things for children to learn is how to handle big emotions like anger.

To be fair, it can be really hard for us adults too.  I know I don’t always behave all that nicely when I’m feeling really angry or upset.  But at least as we get older we, hopefully, have learnt tools and coping mechanisms to work through these feelings.

Children though don’t have this experience yet.  They really feel these big emotions, often over things that we as parents don’t quite understand, and can find it hard to cope and to work through them.

If you’re struggling to know how to help your child when they really feel angry about something, then here are 9 different things you can try saying to them that might help.

9 things to say to help calm your angry child

1. I can see that you feel angry.

Or frustrated.  Or upset.  Or whatever word best describes the emotion that your child is expressing.

One of the first things to try is to name the emotion for them.  This helps them feel like you understand and are listening to how they’re feeling.  It also starts to make them more aware of what different emotions feel like to them.

 

2. Can you tell me what’s happened?

This lets you get to the root cause of their anger and gives them a chance to talk it through.  When you ask this question, make sure you really take the time to listen.  Don’t interrupt, don’t try to reason with them as they’re telling you what has made them angry.

Just let them tell you the whole story in their own time.

 

3. Everyone feels angry at times and that’s OK

Let your child know that anger is a valid emotion to feel.  It’s OK if they feel angry; we all do at times.

Knowing you understand how they’re feeling can really help your child feel validated in their emotions, and to feel heard by you.

 

4. It’s OK to feel angry but it’s not OK to…

…hit.  Or break things.  Or call people names.

This lets them know that the emotion is valid but that the behaviour they’re showing while they’re angry isn’t acceptable.

 

5. Would you like to try…

… taking some calming breaths.  Or doing a warrior cry.

Offer a suggestion of something your child can do to try and calm themselves down.  But ask them if they’d like to try it, rather than telling them that they have to do it.  Give them the choice and the control over the situation.

Don’t overwhelm them with lots of suggestions either.  Offer one or two ideas and then give them space to think it over.

 

6. I’m here and you’re safe

Our emotions can get all jumbled up at times, and quite often when our children feel angry they also feel scared and unsafe.  Letting them know that you’re there, by their side, and that they’re safe can go a long way to helping them feel calmer.

 

7. I’m going to sit over here

If your child is right in the eye of the storm then let them know that you’ll be sitting close by.  Or just in the other room.  This gives them the space to work through their anger while knowing that you’re still nearby, ready to help them when they’re ready to let you.

 

8. Can I help you?

When your child is angry they may well  be feeling completely out of control, so asking them if they’d like your help gives them back a sense of control.  They can decide if they want a bit of time and space or if they want you to sit with them and help them calm down.

 

9.  I love you

Our children need to be reminded that even when they’re angry we still love them.  We might not like the way they’re talking or acting when they’re angry, but we will always love them.  We need to be that safe place for our children where they know they’re loved no matter what.

 

There’s no one magic phrase that will immediately calm an angry child down.

The main thing for us as parents to remember is that, as much as possible, we need to keep calm ourselves.  If we start to get frustrated too then we won’t get anywhere.  We need to be the calm in the storm.  Easier said than done at times I know, and if you do get angry too then make sure to talk about it afterwards once you’ve both calmed down.

If you can keep calm though, and try a few of the suggestions in this post then hopefully you’ll find the magic words that work best to calm your child down.  The other thing to remember is to trust your instincts.  You know them best, you know if they need to be left alone or if they need you to hold them.

With your help and understanding they can start to learn how to handle anger and all the other big emotions that they might be feeling.

 

What do you find works best for you and your child when they’re angry?

Getting back to yourself as a parent

Getting back to yourself as a parent

Family life is a mass of contradictions, it’s rewarding, exhausting, frustrating and worrying in equal measure. It’s all also all-consuming. So much so that very often it’s easy to forget who you were before you had a partner and children.

If you’re happy with your identity as a parent then that’s great but for many of us, there is a sense that our old selves could do with being rediscovered, that those past hobbies and interests that have been lying dormant should re-emerge and find their way out from under the piles of dirty laundry, homework books and packed lunches.

In this article we look at a few ways of finding yourself again as you begin to see your way out of the tunnel that is parenting very young children.

Getting back to yourself as a parent

 

You used to have hobbies

Even ones outside of the house. Perhaps you were a real outdoors person and loved exploring the trails and surrounding countryside hiking or biking. Maybe you used to run and compete in races or love going off road.

You might have painted, sketched, knitted, played an instrument or danced when you had the time and the space as your younger self. Sure, these skills might be a little rusty but nothing a little bit of practice or some advice from a YouTube video can’t fix.

Could you find some time, carve out an hour or two to revisit some of those old interests you used to have and bring them back into the routine of your daily life? After all your children have their after school clubs and your partner finds time, so why shouldn’t you?

 

You love study

There was a time when studying and completing assignments was very much a big part of your life. You may have finished up that university course but that love of learning never really leaves you, so maybe it’s time to look at how some serious study might enhance your career and change your life.

There are plenty of options to do just that from courses at your local college in the evenings if you work or in the day when the children are at school. You might instead opt for an online course that you can follow in your own time, like the ones offered at Aston Online. These qualifications are, very often, equally as valid as traditional universities and will give you the professional qualifications you need to take your career one step further or change it altogether.

 

You have ambition

If you work maybe you find your job a fulfilling and enjoyable part of your life. However, if you’re finding it becoming ever more of a drag and that it fails to fulfil you, then it’s time to rethink your career. You have ambition and you want to do a job that you find challenging and rewarding.

If your boss can’t make some changes to your role or offer you a one-off project to work on then maybe it’s time to polish up that CV and get back out there in the job market. If you haven’t done this for a while then, yes, it’s daunting but practice makes perfect. With some dogged determination, you’ll secure an interview and with any luck a job in no time at all.

It might seem like an overwhelming prospect so do talk to a recruitment adviser if you need some help in where to focus your job intentions. They may be able to point you towards some companies where you can send your CV to on spec, you never know who might end up calling you for an interview.

 

Is changing your life difficult? Yes, in part. There are some small things you can do to help you find your sense of self again, some minor changes you can make to help you remember who you once were. There are also some large scale, game changers that will turn things around 180 degrees.

So whether you just want to get a bit more active, take up an old hobby, get back to education or shake up your career, plan today to do something amazing for yourself. When you spend so much time caring for others it’s easy to get lost. Invest in your health, in your hobbies and in your career and it will be an investment that will pay you back over and over again. You’re well worth spending the time and money on so put yourself at the forefront for a happier, more fulfilled you.

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

5 little ways to encourage kindness

5 little ways to encourage kindness

There is a quote I love from Mr Rogers that talks about how, in times of crisis and tragedy, when the news of full of scary stories, we should look for the helpers.

In amongst all the chaos and sadness and fear there will always be helpers.  We’ll always find people bravely doing whatever they can to help and to care for others.

I think this is such a great message to send to our children.  Firstly for them to know that there will always be more good than bad out there.  And secondly for them to learn that they can be the helpers too.  They can grow up to be the ones jumping in, helping others, coming from a place of care and kindness.

It’s so important to me that my children are kind people, and if you feel the same way,  here are 5 things we can do as parents to teach our children about kindness.

5 little ways to encourage kindness

 

1. Talk about differences

It can feel really awkward when our children ask questions about other people who have disabilities or who simply look different to them.  Most of the time though these questions simply come from a genuine sense of curiosity about other people.  And they’re a great chance to start a conversation about our differences and our similarities.

Talking to our children about why people use wheelchairs for example can really help them understand the different experiences and challenges other people might face.  This then helps them be more empathetic to others, as well as being a chance to talk about how we can be kind and treat everyone with respect.

 

2. Be kind to the earth

Being kind goes further than doing nice things for other people. We need to teach our children to be kind to the planet too.  So talk to them as you sort through the recycling.  Explain why you’re doing it and how it benefits the earth.

Look for changes you can make in your own lifestyle to be more eco-conscious and talk these through with your children.  Give them reusable water bottles instead of plastic bottles of water when you go out for the day.  Wrap their sandwiches in reusable waxed wrap, rather than using cling film.  Talk to them about donating their old toys rather than just throwing them out.

 

3. Read them books about kindness

Find stories that feature the theme of kindness and read them to your children as often as possible.

Books are great ways to spark conversations about different topics and you can use them to help your children learn all about kindness and the different ways we can be kind.

It doesn’t have to just be books either. When you’re watching TV with them look out for story-lines about kindness and point out to your children how great it is when characters do something kind and thoughtful, and how happy it makes them and other people.

 

4. Do random acts of kindness with them

These can be really small but are a great way to get our children thinking about doing things for other people.

You can let someone go in front of you in the queue at the supermarket.  Leave some money taped to a vending machine for the next person to use.  Or simply leave notes around reminding people how great they are.

The beauty of these random acts of kindness is that they’re normally done in secret.  So we do them with no expectations of thanks or reward.  The reward is just that good feeling that comes from doing something nice and kind to brighten someone else’s day.

 

5. Set a good example

The most important thing we can do as parents, if we want our children to be kind, is to be kind ourselves.

Be kind to your children.  Let them see you be kind to your partner and to your parents.

When you’re out walking with your children, smile and say ‘hello’ to people you pass.

Say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ to the bus driver, the cashier at the supermarket, the person who holds a door open for you.

Bake cakes with your children for the school cake sale and take them with you to buy flowers for your neighbour who’s been unwell.

Children will soak up all these little acts of kindness, compassion and caring and learn to go out into the world and act the same way.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

 

 

Getting your child to be more active in the chillier months

Getting your child to be more active in the chillier months

When winter time comes around, it’s very easy to get snuggled up on the sofa and not move for three or four months. Getting up in the dark, shivering cold mornings and generally greyer days mean we all wish we could stay in bed and forget about leaving the house.

Naturally, getting up and about, doing some exercise and keeping yourself fit can get a bit lost during this time, and that goes for both you and the kids. Your children are just as likely to want to stay in front of the TV as you are, so what can you be doing to keep them active, engaged and entertained in the colder months?

Getting your child to be more active in the chillier months

 

Get Out in the Snow

We all have wonderful childhood memories of playing in the snow, whether it be hurtling down a hill on a rickety sledge, pelting each other with snowballs or building the snowman to defeat all snowmen. Having fun in the snow should be a part of any child’s growing up, and it’s also a great way to get your kids outside, enjoying themselves and getting some fresh air.

This one’s not too tough a sell either; the kids will be chomping at the bit to start having some fun. And if you’re a tad wary of sledging or snowball fights, there’s plenty of safer activities to be getting up to, like making snow angels or drawing in the snow.

 

Embrace Winter Sports

Take some inspiration from the Winter Olympics and introduce your children to winter sports. There’s plenty of unusual and super fun ones to try, and you never know, you might find your child has a liking or talent for one.

Ice skating is a great family activity for all to enjoy and doesn’t need to be taken too seriously. You could also try a snowboarding or skiing lesson, whether that’s on holiday or down at the local indoor slope. If you fancy something more high-octane, retailers like Proline Skates are making Ice Hockey more accessible than ever.

Embrace the winter as a time to try something new, and your kids could find something they absolutely love.

 

Ideas for Home

Of course, you need to think about how to keep things busy at home. Chances are the kids will happily sit on the PlayStation all day, every day if you let them, so you’ll do well to think of some fun games for the house as well.

Counter the video gaming obsession with an active game for you and the kids to enjoy. You should be able to find a fitness or dance based title for any of the popular consoles, and this will get everyone moving indoors as well as out.

Away from the TV, there’s lots of great indoor activity ideas out there to choose from. The good news is most of them won’t cost you a penny, and they’re a great excuse to get you and the children spending some quality time together.

 

Next time you see the cold weather closing in, see it as an opportunity to experience something new with the kids. Whether it’s sledging, skating or building an indoor fort, there’s potential to make some great memories.

 

Disclosure: this is a collaborative post

Try this little trick to get children to do what you ask

Try this little trick to get your children to do what you ask

If you feel like it’s always a battle to get your children to do the things you ask them to do then I have something interesting for you to try.

A lot of the time the reason children argue back and refuse to do as they’re asked is because they want to assert some control over the situation.  So the trick is to find ways for them to have some choices and some power, while still ultimately getting them to do what you need them to do.

This little trick in particular can increase the chances of your children doing the thing you’re asking them to do.

Try this little trick to get children to do what you ask

 

The trick is to use what is known as the ‘but you are free’ technique.

Basically this is where you ask your child to do something, then let them know that they’re free to say ‘no’ or do something else.  So if you’d like them to eat the peas on their plate you would say “I’d like you to eat your peas, but you’re free to leave them if you want”

 

It sounds a bit crazy, but just knowing they have the choice to say ‘no’ will make them more likely to actually do what it is you’d like them to do.

This has been proved time and time again in studies.

In fact a review of 42 different psychology studies, involving 22,000 people, suggested that this technique can double the chances of someone saying ‘yes’ and doing what we ask.

 

The theory is that when we phrase things like this, using the ‘but you are free’ technique, our children don’t feel as if their freedom to choose is being threatened.  They feel as if they still have the power to choose what to do, and so they’re less likely to push back on what they’re being asked to do.

 

Try it next time you want your child to tidy up their toys.

Instead of just telling them it’s time to put them away, you say “I would like you to tidy up your toys now, but you’re free to carry on playing”.  You might need to explain a bit about why you’d like them to tidy up now, but chances are they’ll stop playing quite quickly and start tidying up.

 

Now, it might not work every time.  Like with any parenting technique it depends on all sorts of factors.  Like the task you’re asking them to do, the thing you’re asking them to stop doing, right down to the mood they’re in that day.

But it has to be worth a try doesn’t it!

Be careful with the labels we give our children

Why we need to be careful of the labels we give our children

I had a parent/teacher consultation the other evening, discussing how Rhys is getting on in year 3.

One of the things we talked about was how he sometimes struggles with new pieces of work in class, because he’s not sure if he’ll be able to do them.  He was resistant to try a new piece of maths work recently.  And it was because he didn’t immediately know how to do it.

Once it had been explained to him and he understood what he was meant to be doing he was away.  But there was still this fear initially with him that he would find it too hard.

Which is interesting because he is good at maths.  His brain works in such a way that the order and logic of maths makes sense to him.  He can be quicker than me at times when it comes to doing mental arithmetic questions.

The thing is, I try to be so careful with the way I speak to him about this because I don’t want to just tell him ‘you’re good at maths’.  And this anxiety he’s showing about tackling new areas of maths is exactly why.

Why we need to be careful of the labels we give our children

 

See, the problem with giving a child a label of ‘good at maths’ is that it puts so much pressure on them to always, well, be good at maths.

They start to feel that they should always be able to do any maths problem easily, because they’re ‘good at maths’.  So if they’re faced with a question that they don’t understand, or don’t know how to solve, they feel bad.  They worry about not living up to this label.

 

So what I’m trying to make clear to Rhys is that while he may have a natural ability with maths he still needs to learn about it.  He will still find aspects of it hard.  He will still need to work on it and get things wrong sometimes before finding the right answer.

And that all of that is OK.

 

The impact of labels

The thing with labels though, is that it’s so easy to give them to our children without realising the impact it might have.

 

If your child is quiet at a birthday party, and wants to stay close to you for a bit rather than jumping straight in to the action, it can be so easy to explain to another parent that they’re just shy.

The problem comes when they hear this about themselves a few times it starts to become part of their story of who they are.  And that can take years to change.

They might miss out on so many fun opportunities because they start to believe that they’re too shy to join in.

 

So many children might never try something, or discover a new passion, because it doesn’t fit with the label they’ve been given.

The child who is ‘sporty’ might never realise how much they love painting, because it doesn’t match up with the story they tell about themselves as being someone who is active and rough and tumble.

On the other hand the ‘science-whizz’ may not know that they’re actually also really good at rugby, because their label of being academic tells them that sport isn’t for someone like them.

 

The power of labels

What’s really interesting is the power some labels can have to affect people’s behaviour.

There are some stories on this post about twins that mention the twin who was born first being labelled as a leader, while the second-born twin often gets labelled as being more laid-back.  Now, there is absolutely no reason why the twin who is born first would go on to be leader, the first of the two to try things and so on.  But it does seem that parents often give them this label, which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Think about it, if you were told the whole time growing up that you were a leader you most likely would act that way.  You would take the initiative on things, be the one to make the first move and rally other people to follow your lead.  Even if that’s not your nature, you would end up acting that way because that’s the story you’ve been told about who you are.

 

The issue comes when that story, that label, conflicts with who we really are by nature.

And when we end up pigeon-holed by those labels, and it becomes incredibly hard to break away from them and pursue other interests and show different personality traits.

 

Encouraging our children without using labels

Once you start thinking about it it can be quite shocking to realise how much we label our children without really thinking about it.

But I don’t think that we need to watch every little thing we say.  None of us are perfect and we can’t expect to never say things to our children that we don’t mean to say.

 

What we do need to do though is be mindful of the messages we’re sending them on a regular basis.

We need to put the focus on to the effort they put in to their work.  We need to label the behaviour, the actions, the processes, and not the child.

Instead of telling them ‘you’re so good at maths’, we can talk positively about how hard they work to figure out the answers.  We can praise the strategies they use to solve the problems.  This shifts the focus from talents which they might feel they have no control over, to actions that they can work on and use again in the future to tackle different things.

 

If your toddlers hits another child at playgroup, don’t call them naughty or bad, explain to them that the action of hitting isn’t nice.  A child who is told repeatedly that they’re naughty is really likely to keep doing ‘naughty’ things because that’s who they believe they are.

 

If your child is good at football, don’t just tell them they’re a great footballer.  Tell them how great it is that they practice their skills all the time.  Talk to them about how they might have a natural flair for the sport but that it’s OK to still find some skills hard to master.  That with practice and perseverance it’ll get easier.

 

As parents it can really feel like we’re all just a bit doomed at times.  That no matter what we do we have the potential to screw up our children.  And I think we could drive ourselves crazy, worrying about how we word things every time we talk to our children.

So I think it’s important not to be down on ourselves too much about the times we don’t phrase things quite right.  We’re all just doing our best here, figuring it all out as we go along.

The key for me I think is just to try and make sure that the overall message my children hear is that they are so much more than just one trait, one talent, one label.

 

What are your thoughts on this?  Were you labelled as a child?  Do you think it had an impact on how you acted growing up, or the choices you made?

Get creative to get your children to cooperate with you

Get creative to get your children to cooperate

I think it’s pretty safe to say that every parent out there has battled with their children at some point to cooperate and do what they’re asked.

It might be that you want them to get their shoes on so you can leave the house.  Or brush their teeth before bed.  Or tidy up the toys that they’ve spread all over the living room.

Whatever the particular task is, when your child isn’t in the mood to do it it can be really hard to get them to cooperate.

There is something you can try though that will help make it more likely that they will cooperate with you.

Get creative to get your children to cooperate

 

If you can make the activity fun, and more like a game, there’s a far better chance your child will cooperate with you on it.

 

Lets say you have a toddler who doesn’t want to brush their teeth.

You could try to explain how important it is that they do it.  That the tooth fairy will be sad if they don’t look after their teeth.  You could promise them a trip to the park if they do it.  You could get frustrated and end up shouting and then feel bad.

Or you could get creative.

You could tell them a story about pirates that have stolen some treasure and the only way to help the princess get it back is by brushing their teeth.  Or you could come up with a silly tooth-brushing song that you sing each time, with special dance moves to go along with it.

 

The same thing goes if you want them to tidy up their toys.

Play them a special ‘tidy up time‘ song to make the whole thing more fun.  Or challenge them to see how quickly they can put all their toys back in the basket.  If you can make a game of it, rather than making it a chore, your child will be much more likely to cooperate with you.

 

You can use this technique for all sorts of things that your children might not always cooperate with you on.

  • Sing a fun song or play upbeat music while they get dressed for school in the morning.
  • Make a game of throwing their dirty clothes into the laundry basket.
  • Play catch as you practice times tables.
  • Tell them a story or act out scenes from their favourite film to keep them walking home from the shops.  We live up a hill and Nerys used to pretend to be Elsa running up the mountain singing ‘let it go’ to make it back to the house without complaining.
  • Challenge them to get their shoes and coat on before a timer runs out.

 

Whatever it is that you want your child to cooperate with, try to get creative and use your imagination to bring your child into a world of make-believe and play.

I’m not saying they’ll always go along with it.  But by making these tasks more fun there’s a much higher chance that they will cooperate.  And while you might not always be in the mood for singing and playing and being silly, going down that route is pretty much always going to be better than nagging and getting frustrated.

The games don’t need to be complicated, and your stories can be completely nonsensical.  It really doesn’t matter.  As long as your child is having fun and distracted from the reality of the boring task you’re asking them to do you’ll be on to a winner.