Family, Personal

Getting a 4-year-old to calm down

You’ve heard of the Terrible Twos. Well, that was a joke. Kids are still kind of cute at 2 when they throw themselves on the ground to tantrum in public places.

Age three. Boy, that was traumatizing. The talking back, the outright defiance. Every little thing can cause a 3-year-old to burst into tears.

We’re now dealing with a 4-year-old, and it seems the three-nager attitude has only gotten more complex, more specific about what ails him and the meanest words a kid can say to his parents. “I don’t like you, Mommy. Go away!” Stab me in the heart.

Our big kid had a huge growth spurt this summer, and as we do every few months, we move him up to the next shoe size. Whatever growing pains he’s going through lately do NOT like his new shoes at all. We go through this routine every morning when it’s time to leave the house.

  • Make sure sock is on straight and pulled up
  • Pull tongue out to make room for the foot
  • Tuck a finger at the heel and slide foot in
  • Stand into the shoe, then press the heel onto the foot
  • Pull the tongue up
  • Pull socks up higher
  • Press the heel onto the foot (again)
  • Finally, velcro and secure

Sometimes, he says I missed a step and will burst into tears even if we went through each step twice and agreed that the step was completed. Preschoolers! Sheesh!

By the time we get loaded into the car, he’s in full crying mode that his shoes don’t fit, which I don’t understand because his feet have been measured. I even bought him a different style of shoe once, and he complained it didn’t light up like his others did – not caring whether they felt comfortable on his feet or not. I’m losing this battle every single day.

In my efforts to get him to take a breath and calm down, it seemed it would be another losing battle. And then I found something that worked. (Maybe it’s a fluke, but maybe it’ll help one of you out too.)

I asked the big kid to blow out an imaginary birthday candle. I described the candle to him and how he had to take a deep breath and really blow the candle out. It was magic. He really understood the visualization, and after 4 or 5 breaths, I could feel his energy level start to calm as the frenzied, panicked mind became human again.

The out breath gives us the ability to release and rid ourselves of what we don’t need to hold on to. Sometimes, we need to let it all out at once with sound, a la Lion’s Breath. Sometimes, we need to wag our tongues and make silly noises while shaking all of our limbs. Sometimes, we need a more focused out breath, like blowing out candles, to calm our nervous systems.

Breath work FTW!

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  1. Pingback: When they don’t sleep – Finding Drishti

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