How To Keep Calm With Your Child: 5 Quick Tips

Written by Dr Lucy Russell DClinPsyc CPsychol AFBPsS
Dr Lucy Russell Founder of They Are The Future
Author: Dr Lucy Russell

Managing the ups and downs of parenting can often feel overwhelming, especially when your child’s emotions run high and impact your own sense of calm.

It’s natural to feel stressed in these moments, but remember, you’re doing a brilliant job by striving for patience and understanding.

The number one priority is calming your own fight or flight response.

When you soothe your nervous system, you think more clearly and make decisions that prevent situations from escalating.

Here are some fail-safe ways to keep calm with your child.

a girl and her mother hugging

Quick Tips for Staying Calm With Your Child

  1. Visualize a Peaceful Space: When tensions rise, pause for a moment and transport yourself mentally to a calming setting. This brief mental escape can lessen the emotional intensity and help you stay composed.
  2. Adjust Your Perspective: If your child is having an outburst or meltdown, try to see the situation as if they were five years younger. This can help you understand that they may feel overwhelmed and are not fully in control of their emotions, just like a younger child.
  3. Evaluate Your Assumptions: Reflect on any judgments you might be making, such as “My child should be able to stay calm” or “My child is choosing to behave this way.” Questioning these thoughts can provide a clearer, more empathetic understanding of your child’s behavior.
  4. Adopt a Helper’s Mindset: Distance yourself emotionally from the conflict by imagining that you are a supportive outsider, like a kind stranger. This perspective can help you approach the situation with more compassion and less personal frustration.
  5. Reframe the Situation: In stressful moments, try to shift your perspective to see the bigger picture. Ask yourself if there are other explanations for your child’s behavior, such as fatigue or stress, and consider these in your response.

Summary Table: Quick Tips for Staying Calm

Tip NumberStrategyDescription
1Visualize a Peaceful SpacePause and imagine a calming setting to reduce emotional intensity.
2Adjust Your PerspectiveView your child’s behavior as if they were significantly younger to better understand their emotions.
3Evaluate Your AssumptionsQuestion any judgments about your child’s ability to control their behavior or emotions.
4Adopt a Helper’s MindsetEmotionally detach and think of yourself as a kind outsider helping your child.
5Reframe the SituationLook for broader explanations for behavior to respond more effectively.
a dad and little boy arguing

Physical Techniques for Staying Calm with Your Child

Did you know that you can quickly calm yourself by changing your body language, posture and facial expression?

These actions send signals to the brain which stimulate your parasympathetic nervous system and helps you become calm.

This tells your brain you are safe.

  1. Modify Your Body Language: Small changes in your posture, facial expressions, and body tension can have a calming effect on both you and your child. These adjustments signal your brain, via the parasympathetic nervous system, that you are in a safe environment.
  2. Relax Your Physical Stance: Actively soften your body to convey calmness both to yourself and your child. Lower your shoulders, relax your arms, legs, and hands, and ease the tension in your jaw.
  3. Lower Emotional Intensity: If emotions are heightened, choose to sit down and use a soft, gentle voice. This approach helps to soothe both you and your child.
  4. Practice Deep Breathing: Inhale deeply through your nose for five seconds and exhale slowly through your mouth for eight seconds. Repeat at least three times. This breathing pattern can help “reset” your emotional state and reinforces the feeling of safety.
  5. Be Present Without Confrontation: During a child’s meltdown, sit quietly next to them rather than directly opposite. This non-confrontational presence can be reassuring and less intimidating for your child.
  6. Give Yourself a Break: If you feel overwhelmed, take a moment to step away. This could mean stepping outside or simply moving to another room. Allow yourself time to calm your fight-or-flight response and regain your composure.

Summary Table: Physical Actions for Calmness With Your Child

Tip NumberTechniqueDescription
1Modify Your Body LanguageAdjust your posture and expressions to signal calm to your brain.
2Relax Your Physical StanceSoften your body to help communicate calmness to your child and yourself.
3Lower Emotional IntensityUse soft speech and seated positions to reduce emotional spikes.
4Practice Deep BreathingBreathe deeply and slowly to reset emotional states and enhance feelings of safety.
5Be Present Without ConfrontationSit non-confrontationally during a child’s distress to provide comfort.
6Give Yourself a BreakStep away briefly to manage your own stress responses and regain control.
a mother and teen daughter arguing

    How to Stay Calm With Your Child: Related Articles

    Do you want to know how to help your child calm their anger or stress more quickly? This article about how to calm an angry or panicky child highlights five powerful techniques.

    You may also be interested in the idea of reactive parenting and how you can adapt unhelpful parenting patterns.

    Does your child behave differently at school? Perhaps teachers don’t see any challenging behaviour. Read our article: Why Does My Child Act Differently At School?

    Do you have a tween boy? Our article on Parenting Tween Boys will help you prioritise and hone your parenting skills.

    Dr Lucy Russell is a UK clinical psychologist who works with children and families. Her work involves both therapeutic support and autism assessments. She is the Clinical Director of Everlief Child Psychology, and also worked in the National Health Service for many years. In 2019 Lucy launched They Are The Future, a support website for parents of school-aged children.

    Through TATF Lucy is passionate about giving practical, manageable strategies to parents and children who may otherwise struggle to find the support they need.

    Lucy is a mum to two teenage children. She lives in Buckinghamshire with her husband, children, rescue dog and three rescue cats. She enjoys caravanning and outdoor living, singing and musical theatre.

    UK parents, looking for expert parenting advice?

    Dr. Lucy Russell’s Everlief Parent Club offers a clear path towards a calmer, happier family life. This monthly membership includes exclusive workshops, direct support from child psychologists, and access to our private Facebook community.

    Together, we can move towards a calm, happy family life and boost your child’s wellbeing. Become a member today!