The holidays are an overwhelming time for everyone involved. So we asked our Kinderling fam for their ideas that really help kids to wind down. Here are some wonderful ideas from you, our listeners, on how to get littlies to calm down in the middle of big feelings.
1. Get outside and into nature
The healing properties of nature really help the most troubled of kids.
“We go outside and explore the garden. There’s nothing like nature to get my daughter grounded, calm and happy,” Tash says.
Others love the beach – like Iina, “The promise of looking for ghost crabs on the beach before sunset seems to work at the moment for calming down a wild child!”
And a nice, calming stroll is tried and true too. “We go for an evening walk. Only way to calm my 2 energetic boys down!” Melicia says.
2. Music-based relaxation
Angela says, “My boy’s favourite tunes always manage to calm him down and get him refocussed.”
And Kiri opts for family tradition in her music choices, “My very active Mr One calms with big cuddles, firm pats on his back and singing a combination of two very old songs my grandmother sang to me when i was little. 'Christopher Robin's Prayers' and 'Little king without a crown'."
Jennifer finds that music helps her kids even when in the middle of a barney. “Music has always been soothing for my two kids. Even when they were little, I’d play music in the background so they wouldn’t fight and bicker. For some reason it made the older one more patient, and the younger one less disruptive, even as toddler/pre-schooler.”
And then there’s the physical transformation that applies! “My little one loves his music put tunes on and he forgets about wat was bothering him and starts dancing his new move is stomping his feet and nodding his head,” Anne says. Eliza finds this is great too - “A big wiggly all-over shake! It releases tension, relieves anxiety, and makes us smile again!”
It can even be educational at the same time. “My little one always calms down with cuddles and a song. He is particularly fond of the alphabet right now which he sings whenever he’s upset or anxious.”
Claire says that pulling out one of their favourite picture books and sitting down to read it with them with the lights dimmed is the go-to calming down method at the moment!
4. Meditation techniques
Even though it’s a practise a lot of adults can struggle with, kids really pick up meditation skills very early on if taught. Our ever-popular Bedtime Explorers has helped many families.
Breathing and counting is a great place to start, as Peter and Cassie can attest. “We use counting, deep breathing and music to calm down. 10 minutes of lying down listening to music and doing her counting usually works for our girl.”
Another listener finds that it can even spread once taught too! “From early on I taught my son to take a deep breath in through his nose and out through his mouth. As many times as it takes to get out of the mindset he was in. He now uses that on others when they are upset or angry, mostly on me though!”
Adding some physical movement to this is also beneficial, according to Katie. “I have an 18-month-old so we do deep breaths in and out while raising and lowering our arms.”
Debbie says that stretching helps her little one too, as well as deep breathing.
4. Calming sensory experiences
A lot of parents also mentioned essential oils were helpful for their kids, combined with deep breathing, calm music and low lights.
Eleanor says, “My kids take their coloured oil-drop timer and turn it upside down and watch as the coloured oil drops pour down; mesmerising and calming!”
And Susie uses good old H20.“Water calms down everyone down! A warm bath with some lavender oil and some toys wins every time!”
And Rachel knows how simple it can be: “I give my little girl a loving, warm cuddle”
5. Physical contact from grownups or animal friends
Of course, a hug can solve a lot of problems, even as an adult. For Chantal, her little one loved that closeness when she was younger. “The cuddles were comforting and when she was ready, we could have eye contact and talk. Now I try to talk with her and then cuddle before moving on to a different activity like reading or puzzles."
A back rub can work wonders too, as does babywearing (when they’re small enough!).
Pam says that stroking their dogs helps her kids, as does Michelle. “My son needs his “Puppy” and cuddles from Mummy or Daddy (Daddy is preferred!).”
And even when that physical touch isn’t there, a visual reminder of all the people that love them can be invaluable, as Bec has found. “We have photos of the boys and family/friends on their wardrobes. Whenever they are upset/mid tantrum we take them to the photos and start talking about the photos. It re focuses them, even our nine-month-old seems to respond to it...and we love telling the stories behind the photos.”
6. A good old-fashioned chat (over tea!)
We love Bonnie’s sweet idea for her son! “We do 'tea time'. Usually when my son is upset it’s because he is tired. I say “okay, maybe we should have tea time”. He will sit and watch me pour the 'tea' and he will stir his cup and take slow, small sips. He knows mummy loves tea, and he enjoys being a part of it. Most of the time I think he just likes me stopping, listening to him, paying attention to him. The craziness of life with two kids sometimes means I forget to stop and take a breather.”
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