By: Margie Frisco, MA, LPC Associate
Supervised by Melissa Barton, MA, LPC-S
How to Help a Child Self-Soothe
Children have big emotions and it can be hard for them to self-soothe. It can feel like there is nothing else but this big emotion. For them to see a resolution like deep breathing can feel, as the parent, out of reach.
What does it mean to Self-Soothe?
Children are like adults when it comes to emotions. Parents can feel all of the feelings. Kids can feel them too. But they do not always have the best ways to manage their emotions.
Self-soothing is anything someone does to help regulate their emotions on their own. It can also be a healthy way to help your child make the big feeling smaller. Specifically for younger kiddos, this can be taking a deep breath or asking for help from an adult.
For older children and teens, this can look different. Since they are more advanced in thought processes, self-soothing can also be more complex. For instance, they might walk away from a stressful situation or think of other options for reacting to the situation at hand.
Modeling How to Self-Soothe
What I mean by modeling is showing a child how to do something. Children are not born with skills to self-soothe. We must teach them. Studies have shown that children learn social/emotional skills by repeating what they see.
As the parent, you can model how to self-soothe. As much as we wish and hope your children have a carefree life without stress, that might not be a realistic expectation. Showing them what to do if they have big feelings can be helpful.
To show them it is ok to talk through what you are experiencing. This might feel silly, but children do not know what we are thinking. For example, if you get some sad news, saying, “I feel sad,” is ok.” You can then show them how to self-soothe by taking a deep breath or asking for a hug.
When Self-Soothing is Not Working
I know sometimes, the big feelings can feel overwhelming. Sometimes it can feel like the child is “past the point of no return.” Here are a few techniques to help you and your child bring the big emotions down.
Try making deep breathing into a game. To use deep breathing to calm your body, we need to breathe in a specific way. We need the exhale to be longer than the inhale. To help a child ensure that deep breathing is longer, make it a competition.
If the child is not interested in a game, try whispering to them. I know this can sound counter-intuitive. But often, children will be intrigued by what the parent is telling them, so they quiet down to hear what you are saying.
It can be difficult being a parent. Helping your child learn how to self-soothe early can help set them up for emotional stability as an adult. Call today to learn more about how to help your child self-soothe when they have big feelings.
Begin Therapy in Katy, TX!
If you would like more help with helping your child self-soothe, one of the therapists at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch can help! We provide mental health counseling, as well as other mental health services. To begin counseling in Katy, TX follow these three steps:
- Contact our office to set up an appointment or to learn more information
- Meet with one of our knowledgeable therapists
- Find ways to help your child self-soothe through therapy today!
Other Therapy Services We Offer:
Here at The Counseling Center at Cinco Ranch, we offer counseling services for people of all ages in areas including counseling for kids, counseling for young adults, teen counseling, couples counseling, eating disorder treatment, men’s issues, women’s issues, anxiety treatment, depression therapy, trauma counseling, family therapy, and group counseling. Our therapists strive to post blogs regularly. We provide helpful information on a variety of mental health topics. To learn more about our therapists and our counseling services, please reach out to the Counseling Center today!