Just as your child spirals into a tantrum, you might be tempted to hit play on Baby Shark for a quick distraction. However, integrating non-electronic methods for reducing anxiety in children, such as these mind-body techniques we’re going to share, might provide a more sustainable and effective solution.
My then-six-year-old kid used to sleep with a “comfort box” under his bed. A small blanket, a ball, and even a sequined bottle of yellow water were among the items he placed within to help him process his emotions. Unusual things have a relaxing effect.
We polled a cross-section of healthcare professionals for their best-kept secrets on calming a fussy baby. Let’s give their suggestions a try.
1. Be a Mirror, Says the Psychologist
Here’s how to prevent a minor bout of unease from developing into a full-blown tantrum. “When your child expresses a frustration, it’s helpful to rephrase it back to them.,” advises Robin Gurwitch, Ph.D. Let’s say they complain loudly, “The math teacher gave us so much homework!” As an alternative to “Uh-huh” or “Really,” you may say, “Lots of math tonight!”
If they succeed, tell them something encouraging like, “You’re really good at solving your math problems.” When things get challenging, I appreciate how hard you work. When you get stuck, I’ll be here to help. Dr. Gurwitch recommends this tactic because it demonstrates that you understand your child’s frustrations and that they don’t have to resort to aggression in order to win your attention.
2. Play a Brain Game, Says the Mommy Blogging Advisers
When your child is crying so hard that you don’t think they can hear you, Amanda Rueter, a former mental-health counselor, and blogger at Messy Motherhood, recommends doing something unexpected to get their attention.
“Turn off the lights, jump up and down, or whisper,” she instructs. Try asking your attentive child to name five blue objects or three things within reach. He’ll be able to switch from reacting emotionally to thinking rationally, and that will help him relax.
3. The Yoga Guru Advises: Radiate Happiness
Shakta Khalsa, creator of Radiant Child Yoga, recommends chanting “om” when your baby’s lip trembles to prevent tears. Do that while looking at your kid and rocking him or her back and forth. As an alternative, you can hold their hands and make soft arm circles, enjoying the advantages of kid-friendly yoga in the meantime.
Teaching older children to chant along is an effective method. According to Khalsa, chanting is founded on the principle that every sound we create has a vibration that affects a certain place of the body, and the sound “om” resonates in the heart, creating pleasant feelings. Emotionally-related brain regions also show reduced activity during the chant, according to scans.
4. A Different Hug, as Recommended by the Therapist
Parental hugs are the nicest hugs there are. Sonja Kromroy, a licensed therapist at Wild Tree Wellness in St. Paul who specializes in anxiety and trauma, says that if your child starts feeling sad or anxious when you’re not with them, they might be able to self-soothe with a “butterfly” hug.
Make your kid act like they’re blowing out candles by asking them to do it a few times. Tell them to give themselves a hug by placing their palms together in front of their chest, fingers pointing upward toward their neck. Assist them in making the butterfly’s body by interlocking their thumbs. Then, have them relax by closing their eyes and fluttering their fingers while taking deep breaths six to eight times. You can keep doing this until your child is feeling better.
The slow right-left stimulation helps reinforce brain networks that mitigate stress. Although its original implementation dates back more than three decades, a more recent adaptation of the method has been utilized to ease the fears of hurricane-affected youngsters.
5. The Yoga Teacher Also Recommends That You Breathe From Your Stomach
You might tell your youngster to take a deep breath when you notice that they are getting frustrated. But can they fully grasp its significance? If you teach your child how to perform “belly breathing,” you may remind them to do it whenever they’re feeling emotional, and eventually, it may become automatic.
Ask your young child to close their eyes, take a deep breath, and blow imaginary bubbles while you hold up one finger. When they are a little bit bigger, tell them to think of their stomach as a balloon and to take deep breaths through their nose to fill it. If your child’s stomach is growing, that’s a good sign. Alternatively, you may have them make a huge circle with their arms above their heads, pretending to be a balloon, and instruct them to breathe in until the balloon is “full.” They can “pop” it by releasing the air within with a clap.
Calmness is induced by the parasympathetic nervous system, which is activated by taking deep breaths. Your child physically releases carbon dioxide when she exhales, and emotionally she can let go of whatever is bothering her.
6. Baby’s Calming Point, According to the Acupuncturist.
Alyssa Johnson, who has treated kids in the NICU and emergency department at Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City, recommends using an acupressure technique to calm a fussy baby after you pick them up.
To find the indentation in your baby’s ear, trace the arc of your finger across the top of the ear. Then, for five to ten seconds, lightly rub that area (a pressure point) using small, circular motions. Then, work your finger to the edge of their elbow that is closest to their body by starting at the inside crease. For 10 to 15 seconds, apply light pressure on that area.
By gently touching their ears and then their elbows on both sides, you can help them relax. According to Johnson, this is because it opens up the “energy channels” and triggers the release of “feel good” endorphins.
7. The Psychologist Recommends: Keeping Them Calm
According to Ilana Luft, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, a light sprinkle of water may assist your newborn or toddler in maintaining their equilibrium. Dr. Luft recommends rubbing their face with a wet washcloth or gently caressing their face with dipped fingertips in cold water. Their heart rate and respiration can be slowed by cooling their body temperature.
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