My daughter, like most three-year-olds, loves to run and jump and play and throw fits. A lot of fits. But the other day she was being extra “spirited”, running around like a tasmanian devil, and someone ended up with a fat lip. Poor hubs. He didn’t see it coming. It is times like those when I find myself annoyed with constantly pleading “STOP it!”; Don’t DOOOO that! “; and “It’s all fun and games until someone gets hurt!!!!”
We all know taking on a toddler can make you feel tired. And defeated. So I am trying to change up my strategy. Rather than having my first reaction be yelling, I decided to “try” some relaxation techniques. I know, I was laughing at myself too. But by doing a little bit of research and experimenting with my child, I have discovered some relaxation techniques that work.
Here they are:
*The Peace Corner. We started using this tactic after we saw one at Mia’s future preschool. It is a cozy nook for kids to go chill out after they’ve had an “incident.” It has a chair, a rug, and some books. When I instruct Mia to “Please go visit the peace corner” it sounds a little better than when I would shout “GO TO TIME OUT Pleeease!!!!!”
*Kiddie Massage. I learned how to do a give a soothing foot rub after I came across an article on reflexology. Here’s an excerpt:
For Relaxation: Start with the solar plexus reflex, located in the center of the sole, just under the ball of the foot and middle toe. Hold the right foot with the left hand and press inward with the right thumb. Hold for a count of three, release slowly and repeat three times. Switch feet. Stimulating this reflex and helps your child relax. – (Whiteside, Cassandra.(October/November 2010). Reflexology: A Foothold For Treating Allergy Symptoms. Living Without. Page 9.)
*Stress Relieving Activities. Throw some play doh at your kid and have them mold and use it as a stress ball. Drawing and having them run around outside are obvious methods of stress and energy release too. I have to say the play doh did not work all that well, she kind of threw it rather than roll it in a ball, but I will pull this tactic out another time.
*Create a Soothing Atmosphere at Bath time. Bathing your kid can be anything but relaxing. There’s the inevitable splashing; me shouting “Stop drinking the SOAPY water!!!”; and the repeated threat of taking my child OUT OF THE TUB if she stands up one more f’ing time. So I decided to try a calming bath by candlelight. I know, I know, Toddlers + Flames = Are you out of your mind?, but this worked like a charm. She was way more relaxed after her bath than usual and she was quite cooperative afterward in putting on pajamas and brushing teeth. This is not something I can do every night, but I will pull out this trick for “special” occasions.
*Favorite music or soothing sound effects. We still use her baby monitor which has a sound setting of the ocean waves. My father-in-law lives on the Cape and it is one of her favorite places to visit. So we tell her the sound comes from “poppy’s ocean,” the term she uses for beach. Seems to help her fall asleep.
*Feed them Calming Foods. Bananas are full of magnesium and potassium which help with a peaceful night’s sleep. Also, chia seeds have more than twice the tryptophan in turkey. It helps raise melatonin and serotonin levels which promotes stable sleep. I’ll throw a teaspoon of these flavorless seeds of heaven in her applesauce at dinner. Also, to get more of that relaxing magnesium, I will throw about a 1/4 cup of Epsom salts in her bath.
*Practice Deep Breathing. My daughter loves birthdays, especially the blowing out of birthday candles. We do the breathing in together and blow out the birthday candles. I have to say this worked just this morning. My daughter woke up crying hysterically at the joyous hour of 6 am. Thankfully hubby went to her and I heard little breaths coming from her bedroom. In minutes she fell back to sleep. Or maybe I fell back to sleep and just blocked her whining?
*Talk It Out (Also known as “change the subject“). When my daughter starts getting tired and whiny, especially after daycare pick-up, and I sense she’s about to have a melt down, I will ask her to tell me what she did that day. At bedtime we’ll also tell stories or talk about future events. We have some big trips coming up this summer so we are talking about that. If she’s really feeling “spirited” I try to repeat the phrases “Calm down” and “Relaaax” in my best 900 number voice.
*Lots of cuddles and snuggles. Besides, what better way to pin your child down mid-tantrum than with a warm embrace?
What techniques do you use to help calm your child?