Helping your child to feel calm again

Posted by / Thursday 26 January 2017 / Behaviour Parenting Tips
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It's upsetting for you to see your child when they're distressed.

It'll usually make you feel anxious. Although, it’s important that your child gets the message that you are calm (even though you may not feel it inside). And that you can manage the situation and be strong for them.

Here are some ideas from our team in Scunthorpe which might help!

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Use a calm and soothing voice

Your calm voice will reassure and support your child. You can say something like

‘Something has just scared you but you might not know what.  It’s OK now.  That was then.  This is now.  I’m here and I’m going to keep you safe. We need to let your brain know it’s OK here and now.’

It might also help to hug or hold your child to help them feel safe and secure. Physical touch can be very reassuring.

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Ask them to notice what they can see or hear right now

This will help your child's brain to sort out any confusion between the past and the present. For example, ask things like:

What colour are my shoes today?

What can you see in this room?

Can you see anything yellow?

Can you see the hand of the clock going round?

Thoughts or memories suddenly pop into their heads, these are 'flashbacks'. Your child may have responded to a sound, smell or sight. These can remind them of frightening events from the past.
This may trigger a panic or ‘freeze’ reaction. Even though your child may not know, or be able to say what has frightened them.
The memory can not tell the difference between what happened in the past and what is happening now.
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Encourage your child to breathe slowly and deeply. 

Ask them to breathe in through their nose and blow out those scary thoughts through their mouth.
 
Practice breathing the air right down into the abdomen (below tummy button. It might help if they put their hands on their abdomen so they can see and feel the breath moving in and out. It’s a bit like a balloon inflating and deflating.
 
Encourage them to keep thinking or saying something like "I'm safe now. I'm breathing slowly. I'm feeling calmer. I'm OK."
 
You can tap your fingers in the middle of the chest area while continuing to breathe slowly and deeply. This can help to slow down the breathing and heart rate to help your child feel calmer.

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