Staying Calm When Your Child Acts Up

Staying Calm When Your Child Acts Up - Playgarden Online
BY Miss Julia May 24, 2024 parenting tips, Social Emotional Development

When little ones act out or don’t listen, frustration and anger are bound to bubble up. We can be the most patient people, and we can still let anger get the best of us. Even gentle parenting does not keep us from getting overwhelmed and upset when our little ones are not listening to us or doing something they are not supposed to do. If we had parents who resorted to yelling or harsh discipline when we did something wrong, we have two options: we can do what they did and continue the cycle of unmanaged anger, or we can change how we react to big emotions and guide our little ones on their social emotional development journey.

Our kids are going to make us lose our cool – it’s part of being a parent, and it’s part of being human. We all experience anger, how we deal with it is our responsibility. Additionally, our little ones seeing how we manage our anger is essential to their social emotional development. Here are some steps you can take to continue gentle parenting and practice keeping calm when your little one acts up:

Take Note of Bubbling Anger

We might feel something tighten in our stomach or throat, or notice our tone of voice change. You also may notice negative thoughts come up that prove why you are “right.” This moment when you start to feel like it’s you versus your little one is when it’s time to…

Take a Breath

Pause where you are and acknowledge the big feelings you are experiencing. You can communicate to your little one: “I’m feeling some big feelings right now and I’m going to take a moment to calm down.” You are showing your little one what healthy anger management looks like, which is so important for their social emotional development. If you need a moment alone, take it! If you want to take a breath with your little one, that could help you both regulate and come back to the situation more clear-headed so you can…

Find the Root

Addressing a problem while we’re angry is like putting ice into a pot of boiling water. Solutions are not going to be genuinely considered if we are still in our big feelings. Taking a breath and asking ourselves gently what the issue is can help us weed out the negative thoughts and come back to the truth. Maybe your little one is in the process of learning something for the very first time in their social emotional development and also feeling frustrated. Maybe you are concerned that this behavior could mean something bigger about your little one’s development. Or maybe you simply reached your gentle parenting threshold for the day. You’ll find your answers when you…

Take a Moment of Mindfulness

Those places we feel tightness – our stomach or throat or wherever it manifests for you – breathe into those places. When we let ourselves feel our feelings, we allow them to move through and out of us. We are not ignoring the anger or bottling it up, as that will lead to bigger blow ups in the future. Sitting with feelings and allowing them to run their course gives us the gift of validation, as well as the clear head space to…

Reframe the Situation

It all starts with us. When we talk gently to ourselves and give ourselves the space to feel our feelings, we can do the same for others, especially our little ones. We have to reframe the thought “they are doing this for attention.” Yes, they are, because children need attention and love. Remember that little ones act up and act out because they need to feel seen and loved. When we accept ourselves where we are in our own gentle parenting journey and find some grounding outside of anger, we can…

Check-in and Try Again

Come back to your little one and apologize for anything you might have said or did. Sit with them, meet them at their eye level and listen to what they are experiencing. Validate their feelings, practice empathy, and find some understanding. Work together to find solutions if anything is damaged or broken. It’s beneficial to their social emotional development to walk them through how you worked through your own big feelings, once again showcasing healthy anger management. Always conclude conversations like this with an “I love you” and a hug or something special between the two of you, reminding them that big feelings are going to come up, but that never changes how much you love your little one. And with that reminder…

New Patterns Take Practice

Changing the way we have always handled our big feelings is challenging, especially while gentle parenting. We are literally rewiring our brains to work through these intense emotions in new ways. We have to be gentle and patient with ourselves as we learn something we may have never done before; just like we are gentle with our little ones as they learn everything for the first time in their social emotional development journey

No one is perfect; we are going to let anger get the best of us. It’s how we come back from it – take accountability and responsibility for our actions and commit to doing better in the future, and teach our little ones to do the same – that matters!


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Miss Julia Pencil

Hi, I'm Miss Julia!

Miss Julia has been an early childhood educator for 5 years, with over 10 years of experience working in childcare. She has been teaching at Playgarden Prep since 2017, and is happy to share ideas on some of her favorite early education topics with you! Miss Julia has a BA from UC Irvine, and uses her experience in performing arts to inspire little ones every day in her enrichment classes at Playgarden. In her free time, Miss Julia loves enjoying nature, cooking, and creating with friends.

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