- Create an environment at home that will allow anyone to take a time out if they feel it is necessary. Model the positive nature of taking that space, thus turning “Time Out” into a positive opportunity to de-escalate.
- Encourage your child to use simple relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises or muscle tightening / relaxing. Stress and anxiety too often compromises ability to think and reason. Utilize these techniques just prior to taking a test or similar stress producing activity.
- Encourage your child to verbalize what they are feeling when they are anxious. Use words in discussions with your child to identify feelings (e.g., angry, frustrated, proud, impatient).
- Taking care of physical needs are critical to managing stress. Make sure your child gets enough sleep, food, and physical exercise.
- Involvement in activities can help keep your child from focusing on the things that cause them anxiety. Help them find extracurricular activities, volunteering opportunities, or a job.
- Discovering triggers for stress can help your child find ways to avoid or combat it. When your child starts to feel anxious, have them either share with you or write down what is happening in that moment in a journal.
- Encourage your child to continue to use “I Statements” when they express emotions. The “I Statement” model is as follows: “I am ____________________ (frustrated, angry, happy, etc.) because ______________________(Mary took my comic book, I don’t have any homework). I want / need ______________________________ (my comic book back, to work on the computer). “I Statements” are ideal in diffusing difficult situations but are best practiced during relative calm.
- When your child is feeling frustrated, encourage them to take a personal “time out” or “time away” so they can collect their thoughts and return to solve the problem. Show them how to ask for a time out appropriately.
- Encourage your child to keep a positive attitude even when frustrated. Stay inquisitive even when he or she appears to be shutting down.
- When you sense anger starting to escalate with your child, use redirection and/or humor to diffuse frustration and aggressive behavior before it has a chance to start. After the moment has passed, point out the effectiveness of that strategy to them and encourage them to seek out ways to redirect themselves when necessary.
- Don’t underestimate the power of a “walk and talk”. Having a chance to move while thinking and reflecting can be a wonderful way to ease tension and open a healthy dialogue.
For more information or targeted strategies regarding your child’s specific strengths or challenges contact our Family Support Coordinator, Dr. Liz Simpson (Liz@soarnc.org).