TAKE A DEEP BREATH!
The first thing newborns learn to do when they come into the world is breath. This is often heard with a cry. Throughout their tiny lives these two things keep them alive. We sometimes remind our children about breathing as they grow older by saying things like “Take a deep breath.” When they are upset and their baby cries have turned into tantrums we remember breathing as a solution. Let us also remember to be good examples to our children by deep-breathing ourselves when we feel stressed. Talk to children about how 3 deep breaths change the way you think and feel as the oxygen feeds your brain so it can make better decisions and calm down.
When we are angry or in an emergency situation we tend to have shallow breathing and adrenalin and cortisol is released into our bodies. This release diverts our energy away from digestive processes to a fight-or-flight mode. This should be a temporary state that gets us away from danger or through a trying time. Then when danger fades with a few deep breaths we are able to relax and again regulate our bodies. Unfortunately the digestive system needs about an hour to get back on track as the stress hormones are filtered out of the system and homeostasis is restored. So dinner after an argument is not the best use of food if you want the nutritional uptake to occur.
Our children do not understand these natural processes and we will need to educate them in order for them to find balance and self-control more easily? I recommend role-playing stressful situations for your children. One way to do this is by acting like you lost your keys. Role-play frustration and stress as you try to find them. Also utilize coping-skills and stress relieving exercises to help you remember where the keys are. State you are frustrated and say how you need to sit down, take some deep breaths, and try to re-trace your steps. If your children see you do this during day-to-day life they will learn to do it too.
Please remember when attempting to teach your children coping skills that each child has their own personality and what works for one like sitting down to cool off, may not work for another, they may need physical release like going for a walk. Deep breaths are universal as oxygen is a necessity not a choice.
Some easy coping skills for the lost keys scenario are: deep breathing, walking to retrace your steps (when you had your keys last), stretching, listening to calming music (no lyrics).
What are some coping skills you have that you can teach your children or have taught them?