According to the experts, you need to stop saying these two words when your kids are upset.
And listen, we know this one is going to come as a shock!
When your child is screaming and crying, there are two words most parents say without even thinking.
Stop saying these two words when your kids are upset
But Rachel Romer, mum-of-two and CEO and co-founder of education assistance benefits company Guild, has explained why we need to stop saying calm down.
She said: “I’m in the middle of parenting two little 4-year-olds, and I think about when they are anxious, saying ‘calm down’ is about the worst thing you can tell a 4-and-a-half-year-old,” Romer said on Guild’s Opportunity Divide podcast, with researcher Brené Brown and psychologist Adam Grant.
Saying calm down makes the child feel like their emotions don’t matter, and that they should simply stop feeling them and showing them.
Calm down can sound dismissive to a child, so it's better to try acknowledging what they’re feeling, even if you don’t know what it is yet, by saying “I know you’re upset/anxious/hurt”.
Then ask them directly what the problem is, keeping your responses slow and your breathing even so that they will mirror your sense of calm as they discuss what’s wrong.
The aim is that both you and your child will better understand how they’re feeling.
Calm is contagious
The experts advised that we should lead by example rather than just telling our kids to calm down.
Young children naturally mirror our emotional state, so by talking to them calmly, we can encourage them to regulate their breathing and their feelings.
Rachel explained: “Sometimes, without even telling them you’re doing it, if you start to sync your breathing with them … you create that space for them to work through their emotions."
And the trio warned that by frantically trying to settle your kids, you could be getting them more worked up.
Brené Brown added: “Anxiety is a very contagious emotion. Calm is also contagious.”
Adam Grant mentioned a study which asked people: 'What do you do when you’re anxious and what do you tell other people to do?'
More than 80% of people said they told others to “calm down”, but admitted that when given the same advice, they couldn’t do it “because we all know anxiety is an intense, highly activated emotion, and it doesn’t just go away".
So, the key takeaway is - practice what you preach.