Terin asks:

How can I work with my child to help him take a breath and think before he reacts?

In Topics: Children and stress, Discipline and behavior challenges, Communicating with my child (The tough talks)
> 60 days ago



Boys Town National Hotline
Dec 18, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

As a parent you can model the behaviors you wish to see in your child. The mother and father are a child's first and most important teachers. There is a saying: "Be the change you want to see." Children watch us and learn from our words and our actions...the good and the not so good!

You don't mention the age of your son, but with very young children you can help them to identify when they are feeling angry before they react. For instance anger may produce physical symptoms to our bodies such as holding our breath, our skin gets warmer, and muscles tighten. Help him to stop when he starts to feel these sensations or others he may notice, and take a deep breath...and blow out his birthday candles. Depending on his age, encourage him to count to 10 when he starts to feels angry, taking a walk or just removing himself and going into another room to think or compose himself can help.

Make sure you are not packing too many activities into a day. Some young kids are OK with multi-tasking, but most are not. They are not adults and most adults are overwhelmed when faced with too many tasks. Remember that going to school for a child can be compared to an adult working a full time job. Put several activities on top of that and it can be too much.

If you would like to speak with a counselor about this or any other parenting issue, please call or e-mail our Hotline.  Counselors are available 24 hours, 7 days a week. Our parenting website is an excellent resource for parents with children of any age.  
Take care and best wishes to you and your son!

Cynthia, Counselor
Boys Town National Hotline
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Additional Answers (1)

aqblickley writes:
Hi Terin,

That is a fantastic question. Just as adults frequently face stress on a day-to-day basis, kids often come across stressful situations as well. Dealing with homework, confusion about academic concepts, friendship issues, the trickle down of stress from parents, etc. are all situations that can make kids experience anxiety and stress.

Helping kids to cope with stress and conflict in a positive way is a great idea. Deep breathing, counting to ten, and channeling anxiety and anger into physical activity are all good practices for managing stress in the face of conflicts.

I'm not sure from your question what type of conflict your child is facing, but I'm guessing he might be experiencing stressful interactions with his peers, parents, or teacher. In any of these instances, it's a good idea for kids who are feeling anger coming on to walk away and spend a minute or two alone before reacting to a situation. Suggest that he counts to ten in his head, and takes some deep breaths while he's counting, and then revisits the conversation that caused him anxiety in the first place. Hopefully, he'll be able to react to the situation in a much more clear-headed and helpful manner.

Hope this helps, and good luck!

> 60 days ago

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