36. Stop…Think…Act

At Sharing Parenting we share lots of tips and strategies to support parents/carers and professionals to keep the atmosphere calm and to protect children’s self esteem for now and the future adults they will become.

These are only any good if we can remember to use them at the right time (although, none of us are perfect and being reflective and saying sorry are all good characteristics of an assertive parent).

Emotional Flooding 

When children (and indeed everyone) gets angry they can get what’s called ‘emotionally flooded’. This means all rational thought disappears and is replaced with a rush of strong emotional feelings (such as frustration or anger).

As the brain floods it passes the ears so makes it difficult to listen and reason.

image of 2 faces one happy one sad and line near ears on one

We need to support our children to calm down. Having a friendly chat or just telling them to ‘calm down’ is probably not going to work at this point – if you’ve ever tried to reason with a child who is in the middle of a tantrum you’ll know what I mean!

Calming down strategies 

  • breathing slowly (or breathe in for 4 seconds, hold for 3 seconds and blow out for 7 seconds)
  • counting to 10
  • blowing real or imaginary bubbles
  • laying down with a teddy on their chest and watching it rise and fall
  • sitting like a frog
  • giving yourself a hug
  • going for a walk

are all strategies which will help calm the child, the brain and the situation.

Practise when calm 

It is a good idea to show your child and practice these strategies before the next outburst when they are calm and will listen and in a better place to understand what you mean.

You and they can then be ready when they are feeling emotionally flooded and you can remind them to blow the bubbles or watch teddy etc.

Remember too that children often feel scared and confused after a tantrum or emotionally flooded moment so as soon as they have calmed down be ready to ‘catch them being good’ (however small) and reassure and encourage them positively.

In the heat of the moment

So, what can you do in the heat of the moment, when you are all ‘emotionally flooded’?

STOP THINK take a moment to calm down, count to 10, breathe and then ACT.

Our traffic lights are one of our popular handouts on our Raising Toddlers/Children/teens programmes.

Ginny talks about Stop Think Act in this You Tube video below too: