9 Ways to Prevent a Meltdown -- Your Kid's and Yours, Too

Soothing Solution: Breathe Deeply

bad mood to good mood

Moira Millman

Why it works for your kid: Even little kids can be taught to recognize how their body feels when they're getting worked up -- hot, itchy, stiff, jerky -- and can learn to counteract those feelings by taking a few deep breaths. In a calm moment, show your child how to pretend he's blowing out the candle on a birthday cupcake; then, the next time you see him start to get upset, you can use a simple code word like "candle" to remind him to take a breathing break.

Why it works for you: Dealing with your child's tantrum throws your nervous system into crisis mode, but slow, deep breathing shuts off those emergency signals. "If instead of yelling you stop and take a breath, you begin to calm your body's arousal system," says Mary Sheedy Kurcinka, author of Raising Your Spirited Child. "Then you can tell yourself, 'He's not out to get me. He's upset, but I don't have to be too.'"

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