By Amy Parlin Feldman, M.Ed., LEP
Big feelings are an important part of life, and learning how to manage anger, frustration and fear is hard work. Our bodies are pretty good at sending us clues to let us know when those kinds of tough feelings are starting to build, but learning how to recognize and respond to those clues is a skill we must develop. In addition, many of our kids are simply wired to experience big feelings more often and more intensely, especially if the environment they are in isn’t a great match for their needs. Kids who are wired in this way will need more teaching, more support and more practice to manage those big feelings before they get out of control.
I’m a firm believer that understanding what “calm” actually feels like, sounds like and looks like is a necessary first step that is often overlooked. Here’s one simple checklist that I created to help empower children to recognize the physiological clues that tell us when we are truly calm:
When I Am Calm…
- I look in a mirror and see that my face is relaxed.
- I feel that my shoulders are loose and low.
- It is easy to wiggle my hands and fingers.
- I can take nice full breaths that sound quiet and smooth.
- The rhythm of my heartbeat is slow and steady.
- My voice sounds relaxed when I count to ten.
Check out my new book, When I am Calm, for a playful approach to teaching children how to identify when their feelings are starting to get out of control, along with what specific tools and strategies they can use to get themselves back to feeling calm.
About the author: Amy Feldman is a Licensed Educational Psychologist (L.E.P. #3900) who provides a full range of cognitive, educational, psychoeducational and neuropsychological evaluations at Summit Center’s Walnut Creek office. Learn more