I cannot for the life of me remember where I picked up this parenting tip on how to calm down a crying child, but I assure you, it works to get your kids calm, and without yelling or bribing.
As a parent of four kids, including twins, I have dealt with a lot of crying over the last five and a half years. Sometimes simultaneously from multiple children. It’s not easy to put up with lots of crying, prolonged crying, and kids who over-dramatize every little thing.Crying isn’t inherently a problem. Everyone cries. But, crying for no reason and crying endlessly, is a problem. I believe my job as a parent is not just to help my children recognize their emotions, but to learn how to cope with different feelings and know what is and is not acceptable.
It is not acceptable to scream and holler and wail for an hour. Or 30 minutes. Or more than 10 (most of the time). No one wants that type of assault on their eardrums.
Ignoring your children’s cries can sometimes work, but sometimes the thing they want is attention, and by golly, their wailing will increase until you give it to them.
Telling a child to shut up and stop crying and calm down is also not so great. Because they don’t want to stop crying, because something happened to them and they want their feelings validated and proper attention given to it and them.
In my experience, the very best thing to do with a child who is crying and upset for whatever reason is to tell them to take a deep breath.
Really. Telling a child to calm down and take a deep breath is my go-to trick for calming a child crying or throwing a fit.
We have been using this trick for years. And it works with a 2-year old and a 5-year old.
How to Calm Down a Crying Child
After addressing the situation (applied bandage, kissed boo-boos, disciplined sibling, explanation for their discipline or punishment, etc) my husband and I calmly talk to our upset child and tell them take a deep breath.
We do it along with them, demonstrating how to breathe. We inhale for a few seconds, hold it for a second or two, and then blow it slowly out.
We tell our kids to let it out, let it go. We do this a few times, waiting for them to finally join us in the taking of deep breaths.
When they finally obey and take deep breaths, they begin to calm down their crying hysterics. They can start to release that tension. They start to move on.
After a few deep breaths, maybe some hugs and positive assurance that the breaths are helping them calm down, we move onto a new activity, and the crying episode is usually done, especially if we avoid talking about the oh-so-traumatic incident, so they don’t re-go into hysterics (as that can totally happen).
This has been by far the best method for quickly, and happily resolving crying hysterics. Yelling and punishing them to shut up and stop crying pretty much only make us feel like terrible parents. Ignoring them can prolong the episode. Simply rehashing again and again what happened just reminds them that yes, it was very terrible and should be cried about all over again, and establishes that they are fully justified in crying like a banshee.
We allow our kids a little time to cry, to let out their hurt feelings, but we do not generally let them keep on crying, especially over little things. We tell them they’ve had their time to cry, but it’s time to move on. Taking a deep breath after they’ve had their cry, allows them to release and let go of those strong emotions. It makes them focus on something very simple – their breathing. The focus is taken away from the situation and onto themselves learning how to control their big emotions.
Teaching self-control and self-awareness is definitely something I can get behind as a parent, which is why I like teaching this way to calm down a crying child.
How do you calm a crying child?