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4 Ways to Quickly Calm your Overwhelmed Child

February 18, 2013

I humbly admitted to the amazing mommas in my Facilitating Attachment in Children Training class that sometimes I’m a little slow to catch on. How long do I have to teach tools to kids and families before I finally bring them home to my 6-year-old?

Two things commonly stress out my son. Homework and practicing piano. Thankfully, homework battles are few and far between. He attends a school that shares my philosophy on the amount and type of homework appropriate for young children. However, we do still have the occasional resistance to homework. More commonly, we have tantrums over the piano. In the last week, I have taken my own advice and implemented four very easy solutions to bring down the overwhelming feelings that start to creep up (or sometimes they explode up!) during stressful situations, like homework or piano.

  1. Take a seat. With him. Often times, if I will just stop sorting laundry or put down the email and simply sit next to him, the overwhelm factor decreases. He doesn’t need my input, and actually doesn’t really want me to say anything. But simply sitting next to him gives him the sense that he’s not alone.
  2. Bubble gum!
    My son loves minty gum, but I keep double-bubble in my office for kids because it’s SO dense and hard to chew- it takes effort! The chewing and deep pressure that comes along with this tough bubble gum is instantly regulating for the anxious or overwhelmed child.

  3. Lollipops! Sucking can be just as calming as chewing! Yummy Earth makes great organic lollipops. Imagine! Homework time is already 1000 times for appealing! There is gum and lollipops involved.

4.  Get those legs moving!

Taking gross motor breaks can be lifesaving. I have started encouraging my kiddo to hop off the bar stool and hop onto his scooter in the front yard. Since we live in Texas, we can take outside gross motor breaks even in February! Taking a bike break or running laps around the house are equally as effective. Have a trampoline? Great idea!

I don’t mean to give you the impression that we now have grumble-free piano practicing and smooth-sailing homework time. Not the case! But, when I remember to use these ideas, overwhelming situations are easier to get through. Eventually, your child will remember and ask for these calming tactics themselves.

PS…Don’t forget!  How to Talk about the Hard Truths in Adoption is THIS Sunday!   Register here!


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Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

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