At four years old, we are beginning to see some intense emotional turbulence. Unlike the manageable anger of a toddler, a preschooler is now able to do some serious harm (to him/herself and others) when angry. For instance, my son has grown particularly fond of flipping over chairs when upset. Now, I have to worry about the safety of himself and his toddler sister when he gets frustrated.
Since four year olds have yet to learn the skills that help them to regulate their emotions, they need some help! This is where calming cards come into play.
Children want to feel as if they are in control (who doesn’t?!); Being unable to control your emotions is insanely uncomfortable. These oversized calming cards give children access to strategies they cannot access when they are in the throes of a meltdown. As everything on this blog, these steps are super simple, and these cards are cheap to make and replace if need be!!
First step is to find some cardboard scraps.
Mine are 10×7. The goal is to make them larger than index cards and a bit sturdier; something big that little hands can maneuver and hold when they are feeling unsteady.
We painted ours next. My kids wanted to paint them, but markers would work just as well here.
After the paint dries, the fun begins! Now together as a team, brainstorm some coping strategies with your child. This is so important!! Do not just make them on your own…your child needs to be a part of this process for them to feel ownership in their strategies!
We came up with five:
- Throw a Tsum Tsum
- Jump and Stomp
- Do Legos
And we role played each one as we wrote it down.
We labeled ours with numbers, because my son is hyperlexic and is drawn to anything with numbers. You could also add stickers with your child’s favorite characters. Ex. Cars 3 Calming Cards might have Lightning Mcqueen, Cruz Ramirez, Jackson Storm, Mater, and Miss Fritter to identify them.
My son chose some strategies that I did not include. For instance, he suggested he could read a book (he loves to read, but I could just see him throwing books across the room when he’s mad). He also said he could take deep breaths (which he already does now, and it doesn’t work for him anymore).
You know your child best, and you can help them through these times of emotional turbulence. Let me know if you have questions. In another post, we will look at identifying the antecedents to these outbursts in an attempt to further understand the situation.