How can I calm down my child?

Published on March 25, 2020

The beauty of children is that they seem to be living in the moment.  They really feel their feelings and go all-in with the present.  The downside to this can be immense emotions that your child doesn’t know how to manage.  Sometimes this can look like a temper tantrum or a melt-down.

As parents, it can be challenging to cope with when you are feeling tired.  Here are some things that might be happening:

1. Your child is just being a toddler

Toddlers are desperately trying to be treated more like a child and less like a baby. However, they still want the love and attention they had when they were a baby.  They are struggling with their own need for independence and the desire to stay close to their caregivers.  They don’t yet have the vocabulary to describe their feelings.  You can help them by naming their feelings and giving them some calm down strategies.

For example, “I know you are angry that you can’t have ice cream before dinner.  It is ok to be angry, but that doesn’t mean that I will change my mind.  Would a hug make you feel better?”  

If a hug doesn’t work, try some of the other calming strategies listed later in this article.  Never give in to your child’s tantrum by giving them the ice cream, because then they will learn that they can have what they want when they have a temper tantrum

2. Manage your own emotions

Children learn how to manage emotions by watching adults.  If you don’t want your children to shout, you shouldn’t shout either.

3. Your child might have anxiety

Children with anxiety have a more difficult time managing their emotions because their nervous system is already taxed. Children with sensory problems or ADHD might also feel overstimulated and overwhelmed.

4. Have a calm down corner

calm down corner can be used when your child is overstimulated.  The calm down corner should have low lights, little sound, and relaxing things for your child.  Some children are relaxed with drawing or their favourite toy.  This can be used instead of time out.  Your child is not naughty, he might just need to calm down.

5. Your child might be stressed out

Is your child stressed at school? Are they overbooked? Children also experience stress.  Your child must have downtime and decompression time.  Play is a child’s way to de-stress and explore their world in a non-pressure way.

6. Calm down strategies

    1. Anger balloon: You can ask your child to make a pretend balloon with their hand, or you can give them a real balloon. They can blow their anger into the balloon
    2. Jump it out: Ask your child to jump off their agitation. Sometimes getting their heart rate up helps their body to relax
    3. Feelings yarn: Ask a child what colour of yarn matches their feeling, and the length of the yarn is how big the feeling is.
    4. Breath: Ask them to breathe in for three, hold for three and exhale for three
    5. Draw it out: Ask your child to draw their feelings
    6. Anger cards: Ask your child to draw or write what is making them angry on a card. With that card, they can pour water on it, tear it up or throw it in the rubbish.

For more ideas visit Psychology Today


If you would like to set up an appointment please reach out to me on +852 2521 4668 or email

Category(s):Anxiety, Child and/or Adolescent Issues, Child Development, Parenting

Written by:

Dr Monica Borschel

Registered Clinical Psychologist (HK)

Dr. Borschel specializes in Attachment, trauma and Loss. She is experienced in helping adults, teens, children, and families adjust to anxiety, trauma, abuse, divorce, separation, loss of a loved one, and loss of finance. This may include deciding what is in the best interest of the children during custody disputes, strengthening the relationship and communication between the parents and the children.

From Nov 2020 Dr. Borschel is only available for online consultations.

Dr. Borschel’s attachment-based therapy along with EMDR and Brainspotting enables her clients to find healing within themselves. In so doing, she can help her clients to overcome anxiety, trauma, neglect, emotional, verbal, physical abuse, and child abuse.

Furthermore, as an attachment specialist, she also helps individuals understand relationship patterns which prevent them from developing or maintaining healthy relationships. She is able to help reduce anxiety, insomnia, depression and promote confidence and self-esteem.

Dr. Borschel is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.A. She graduated with her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Columbia University in New York City. She later moved to Hong Kong to pursue her doctorate at the University of Hong Kong in Social Work and Social Administration.

Registered Clinical Psychologist with The Hong Kong Society of Counseling and Psychology (HKSCP). Member of the American Psychological Association (APA), The British Psychological Society (BPS), and the Hong Kong Family Law Association (HKFLA).

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