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Calm Down Tool Kit For Toddlers

I think as humans, we need to feel heard. We need to feel in control. And we need ownership- not only of ideas, but ownership and a stake in solving problems that directly impact us. Without it, we tend to fight, deflect, and be on the defensive. But when we have ownership, we can’t do those things. We can’t point fingers. We don’t deflect as much if we play a positive role in an outcome. We own it. We take it. We like the sense of control and pride.

Toddlers are little humans.

If I was screaming and crying (of course this has never happened LOL), and my husband came to me and simply told me to “stop”, I’d not be very receptive to that to say the least.

Needless to say, it is completely unfair and an unwarranted comment if we say it to our children. “Stop” is not helping them own their behavior. “Stop” is not showing that we understand. “Stop” is making an already emotional child, become more emotional.

We may be over-explainers in our house, but my thought process is that explaining helps our children learn. We are not the parents that say “because I said so.” We are the parents that have high expectations, and expect our children to listen, but also parents that explain the “why” behind our reasoning.

Our daughter is emotional. She is strong willed. She is passionate. She is the most stubborn person I’ve ever met. Yes, she gets those wonderful traits from both me and her daddy. She didn’t have a chance LOL!

As an emotional person, I know full well the detrimental effect of telling someone to “stop”, or that they are “too sensitive”. I hated comments like that growing up (and I still do). I want my feelings to be heard. I don’t want to be judged. The reality is that it doesn’t matter if anyone feels the same way as I do, it matters that they HEAR me.

And so, I have tried to be the parent that hears her child.

It is ok to cry.

The expectation in our house, however, is that we also work together to solve the problem. It is that we try to understand one another. It is that we help ourselves, and help each other.

Printable Parenting Tools From MOC

My daughter and I have something in common. When we are upset, we don’t want to do anything until we decide it’s time. I don’t want a hug from my husband, until I do. Our daughter doesn’t want a hug from us, until she does. With personalities like this we all have to be patient, understanding, and keep trying. Just because it wasn’t welcomed the first time, doesn’t mean a hug isn’t in order now. Timing is everything.

With personalities like this, it is important to know how to calm ourselves down. That’s incredibly difficult for a toddler. They are just learning what their emotions are, much less how to deal with them.

During a screaming fit, it isn’t often possible to hear the parents trying to help. Toddlers are lost in their little worlds. Tangible items, however, can help. And having a tool box of ways to help yourself is a must from toddlerhood, to adulthood.

There is often nothing I can do to help my daughter calm down. She’s been known to have some 2 hour screaming fits. They are for real. My attempts to calm her down don’t work when she’s in this mode.

As a result, we’ve done a couple of things:

1. We’ve taught her ways to calm down. We practice when she’s happy. We talk about it when we play. And then we remind her of these options and tools when she’s in the throws of her emotions.

2. We’ve created a calm down tool kit that our daughter can use on her own. This tool kit is something I wish I’d have had much earlier on. For the nonverbal toddler, the pictures and cards would be helpful to give them a way to be involved in the process. For the verbal toddler, it is helpful because they aren’t in an emotional state to think of the tools, or to express their needs.

First off, I have to highly recommend the show Daniel Tiger. We learned several calm down methods in this show, and the visuals and catchy songs are a huge help when teaching a toddler these tools. Things like taking a deep breath, squeezing your hands together, etc. are all taught and portrayed very well. As a parent, I learn a lot and get a lot of ideas from this show!

Now to the calm down kit that we use.
I’ve created a printable calm down tool kit that is a very handy tool and has worked very well in our home!

1. Emotion cards (Happy, Sad, Angry, Calm)
I printed these on heavy duty cardstock (they could also be laminated for more durability). I ask Caroline to pick the emotion she is feeling. Each card has a picture and she can easily identify the basic emotions. She can choose a card and tell me how she feels. The goal is to get to a state that is happy or calm. We revisit these cards after we’ve addressed her sad or angry feelings.

2. Calm Down Technique Cards
There are 9 calm down techniques represented. Again, each card was printed on heavy duty cardstock and could also be laminated. Each card has a picture of the technique to try. I have our daughter pick a card that she would like to try to help calm her down. If the first option chosen doesn’t work, we try another. Having your child pick a technique gives them ownership in the process of calming themselves down.

These cards can also be printed and you can have your child color them in. I purposefully left the pictures outlines with no color. This way, the child will also get to partake in making the cards. It will feel like something of their own, and they will be that much more likely to participate.

3. Calm Down Recording Chart
This chart includes the same 9 tools represented on the cards. All of these tools are ways that your child can learn to calm down on their own. This chart is a place to record if the technique worked for your child and if you’ve tried it yet. Not all techniques will work for all children. Children will gravitate towards some more than others.

4. Calm Down Bin
This part is not included in the printable version, but it is a great idea to set one up to work with your emotion cards and calming technique cards. In this bin you should place everything your child would need, along with the printed emotion cards, technique cards, and chart. Things like a stuffed animal, a squeeze ball, or even a blanket could be placed into the bin.

I have to say, when I remember to use this tool kit in my own home, it is incredibly effective. My only problem is that I don’t always remember to direct my daughter to this. The times that I do, however, Caroline takes the lead and uses the kit very well. It helps calm her down, and really gives her the ownership that I was striving for. She knows right where to go when I tell her to grab an emotion card, and her fits have been lessened drastically. This has been a fantastic addition to our resources at home, and I wish I would have had this when she was not yet talking. This kit would have helped tremendously then as well!

My goal with the printable items that I create, is to make things that are useful for our house, and for others. This calm down tool kit is just that. We use it in our home, and I just love it.


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