Behaviour Matters

20 Alternatives to Telling Children to Calm Down

20 Alternatives to Telling Children to Calm Down

A wise one once said: "Never in the history of calming down did telling someone to calm down actually cause them to calm down." What to do instead? Here are twenty things you can say to an anxious child instead. 

1) I'm listening

2) That sounds tough

3) Lets breath together

4) Would you like a hug?

5) I hear you're upset. Do you want help coming up with a solution?

6) Let's go somewhere private so we can sort this out.

7) You are having a tough time, let's figure this out together. 

8) I'm here for you, I love you, you're safe.

9) When I was a kid, this used to upset me too.

10) Tell me what you think you need to feel better?

11) What are you most worried about?

12) Do you want to sit down so we can talk about this?

13) I'm sorry you didn't like how this turned out, what do you think we could do to make this better next time?

14) I see you're starting to get frustrated. Would you like me to help you calm down?

15) Do you want to write down/draw how you are feeling?

16) This feeling will pass.

17) You can get through this.

18) Let's figure this out together and make a plan. 

19) You are having a big reaction to a big emotion. If this emotion were a monster, what would it be?

20) Do you want to take a break?

When children are in the throes of anger, often they feel physically unsafe and this can escalate their reaction. Parents can play a major role in addressing these feelings in a validating and safe way that promotes growth, development, and autonomy.