March 19, 2018

Ways to help kids calm

Building an emotional tool box for your child is essential.  When your child is unable to think because he/she is out of control, piling on the consequences will not help.  Our goal at this point should be to help him/her calm.  Remember, when our fear brain is activated, our thinking brain is inaccessible!  So, we must teach our children how to notice when they begin to emotionally dysregulate, tight tummy, hot face, etc. and to ask mommy for help or turn to a calming tool to help calm his fear brain.

Calming Space – A calming space in your home is not a “time out” place.  Rather, this is a place that your child recognizes as a safe place where they can calm.


Pin Wheels

Puff balls / straws



essential oils-lavender

Touch Therapy

Fidget (sensory) Items

Stress balls

Porcupine balls

Silly Putty

Chewing Gum

The necessity of “rough and tumble” play

There is lots of research out about the importance of allowing our children to “rough and tumble” play. After seeing one article, I started looking around and, low and behold, this topic has been studied quite a bit. What they have found is that, as kids, our play helps us to learn our boundaries…what is too much etc. It helps kids to socialize and develops emotional regulation.

I, like many moms, was often stopping this kind of play between my kids. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt or the roughness to get out of hand, so I just always said, “no” to it. However, when I read this research, I had to stop and think about what effects my parenting this way has. In this case, I was wrong and have since told my kids that they can play fight. However, I have also established some rules around it. Such as, If someone says “stop”, we listen and stop. And, we can only be in designated areas….no play fighting near lamps, breakables, etc. With some guidelines in place, they have been enjoying their new freedom to express themselves physically with one another.

National Institute for Play:
“The importance of R&T play in animals and humans, has been shown to be necessary for the development and maintenance of social awareness, cooperation, fairness and altruism. Its nature and importance are generally unappreciated, particularly by early (preschool) teachers, who often see normal rough and tumble play behavior such as hitting, diving, wrestling, (all done with a smile, between friends who stay friends), not as a state of play, but one of anarchy that must be controlled. A natural extension of the form – as it naturally diminishes with age – is lifelong involvement in games, sports and group activities that not only tolerate, but enjoy creative tension. Lack of experience with this pattern of play hampers the normal give and take necessary for social mastery, and has been linked to poor control of violent impulses in later life.”

The Importance of Attunement

What is attunement?  It is simply the process of being able to understand and respond to another’s needs. With little ones our attunement builds with each experience.  Each time they cry, telling us a need, and we come to them, meet their need, love on them, then we learn what those needs are and how to meet them for that child.  We do this for each of our children individually, for they are separate individuals!  Every child deserves a loving caring adult to do this for them.

Study shows corporal punishment linked to aggression.

Study just out from the Feb 2011 issue of Development Psychopathology. Among a few other things they found that early corporal punishment was associated with increased levels of peer aggression across the transition from preschool to school.

So, what are we to do??

0-1 Meet all needs. When a baby cries, it’s his only way to communicate. When you respond, you are calming their little system. He doesn’t have an ability to regulate his emotions and your calming sets his little emotional template. It’s good to allow them to cry as well. Some of us don’t want them to cry at all, but it’s important to let them express the distress and then respond to help him calm. This will set his ability to regulate his emotions for years to come!

1-3 Meet all needs and set limits on his wants. It is imperative to set limits and when he has a fit, he needs you to help him calm. Continue to hold the line and it’s be empathetic and help his body calm. When you do this, you are clear that the rules are to be followed, and clear that you are a safe and loving parent that will help them in times of need. This also has longstanding effects on his ability to handle the stress of hearing “no” for years to come!

Corporal punishment is not recommended especially for young children.

Game Ideas

Attachment Cycles

Body Drawing

Protected: Class Handouts

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Fear Worksheet

Lunch Ideas

These lunch ideas will work for school lunch’s too!

Grains and Protein

Whole wheat Pita Bread (I cut up the pita into bite size pieces that they can dip – or Trader Joes has small pita circles) and Hummus ( I add canola and olive oil to the hummus and put it in a little container)

Whole wheat tortilla with grated cheese (brush with canola oil after it’s cooled to keep it soft – this idea is from Jan’s book)

  • Try adding canned, chunked chicken or lunch meat
  • Try adding a little ketchup or mild salsa for taste
  • Try a side of guacamole they can use to tip it in
  • Or, add refried or chili beans to make it a delicious burrito (after beans are cooled, add oils


  • Sprouts brand lunch meat (or any without nitrates); add cheese, mustard and mayo for taste (just a little).  Or you can use whole grain tortilla for a delicious wrap.
  • Grilled cheese on whole grain bread
  • Egg salad on whole grain bread (hard boiled eggs, little mayo and mustard)
  • Soup in a thermos with a side of whole grain bread or small sandwich (make sure the soup has a protein, chicken or beans)


  • Edamame
  • Canned green beans (send in a container so that they don’t have to open the can)
  • Persian cucumber (Trader Joes and some other stores sell these mini cucumbers that they eat like a pickle)
  • Carrots, celery, sweet peas, zucchini

Try making a dip with plain yogurt, oils and seasonings


  • Apples, Oranges, Kiwi, Honeydew, Cantaloupe, Watermelon, Strawberries, Blueberries, Raspberries, blackberries, Grapes


  • Water
  • Milk (you can buy boxed milks or use a thermos)
  • Smoothie (these are yummy and nutritious, just remind them to shake them before drinking)