How to keep your cool and stay calm with your child

How to Stay Calm When Your Child Gets Angry

How can we help our children when they are angry, frustrated, disappointed, or sad?

The key is to start by staying calm. We don’t need to argue, defend, or join them in their emotional upheaval. Instead, it’s important we just breathe, relax, and stay grounded.

It’s not easy, I know.

Feeling frustrated or angry with our children is often the reaction we have when we’re on autopilot. Accessing our inner calm takes awareness and practice. We need to create the space to choose a more helpful response. How can we do this?

Call it whatever you want—meditation, quiet time, nothingness, breathing, relaxation, sitting in stillness. It isn’t the term that matters, but actually taking the time to practice what the term points to.

You don’t have to take a class or buy a bunch of books before you can practice becoming quiet. Not that I’m against either classes or books. It’s just that they aren’t essential. I’ve studied many different types of formal meditation, and I know many who swear by a certain teacher or practice. But for me, trying to follow specific guidelines turned out to be a distraction.

Now, I simply take some time in the mornings, anywhere from five to fifteen minutes, to sit, breathe, and relax. At one time this was a task on my to-do list, whereas over time it became something I enjoy and look forward to doing. I sit comfortably and surround myself with things I love, such as pictures, quotes, candles, gifts from my kids, rocks I picked up on the beach. Then I close my eyes and breathe.

Sometimes the day starts off crazy and I forget all about quiet time. But let me tell you, I can tell the difference. I’m more distracted throughout the day, more easily agitated, more readily offended, and more frequently annoyed by little things.

Accessing a calm state isn’t only valuable in terms of parenting skills. It’s beneficial for our overall health. It can improve sleep and heighten immunity. It increases our sense of wellbeing. And it helps us quiet our continuous thoughts. In fact, that’s really the best part of entering into quietness—it helps us distance ourselves from our incessant and often unhelpful thoughts, leaving us feeling more centered and clear.

It takes a little practice to get used to sitting with yourself, but you can start simply. Sitting in the car waiting for your children, close your eyes and deep breathe for a minute or two. Or before you start work at your computer, breathe deeply for a full minute. As you begin to notice the benefits, you can incorporate stillness into other parts of your day.

Practicing a few minutes or more a day will increase the likelihood you’ll stay calm in the most difficult moments. Not only will you feel better about the way you respond to challenges, but you’ll teach your children the importance of accessing their own inner stillness. They’ll learn from your example that calmness begins inside, regardless of what’s happening in their outside world.

Taken from Cathy Cassani Adams new book Living What You Want Your Kids To Learn.

In the comments below, tell us what you think. Do you tend to jump in and join your child when emotions are running high? How can you create the space to choose a more helpful response when your child is feeling emotional?  Do you think practicing stillness and breathing would help you to stay more calm in challenging situations? 


photo credit: Pete Morawski via photopin cc

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  1. Nihal on November 17, 2014 at 11:29 AM

    I think it may help if I can do it 😉

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on November 17, 2014 at 4:04 PM

      It WILL help WHEN you do it Nihal! 🙂 Sending you positivity!

  2. Catarina on November 17, 2014 at 4:11 PM

    Hi Cathy (and Kelly!) – Great subject and great post! Now that my little man is about to turn 2, I’m really appreciative of the fact that I started to build this practice gradually over the past year. It has been serving me well, but is definitely a work in progress so thanks for the reminder 🙂 I’ll share this book with my coaching clients who have kids. Thanks!

  3. Heidi on November 17, 2014 at 6:18 PM

    I love this. I try to get up 15-30 minutes before my kids each day to sqeeze in some stillness and quiet time before our day begins.

  4. Seana Turner on November 17, 2014 at 6:47 PM

    I never regret starting my day in quiet prayer. I don’t do it as often as I should, but it really does provide a calm, open, peaceful start before the day’s pressures descend.

  5. Cathy Adams on November 17, 2014 at 6:54 PM

    Hi friends! Thank you for the kind words – and Kelly, thanks for posting! Self care is definitely a day to day practice – some days I’m totally on it, some days, not so much. But that’s always my indicator – when things start to feel crazy, I know that I am out of tune with myself (rather than blame the world, my children, my partner). Daily self awareness takes us (and the ones we love) one step closer to peace. 🙂

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on November 17, 2014 at 8:55 PM

      Thanks for those extra words of sweet wisdom Cathy – and a huge thanks again for permission to re-print this small chapter from your wonderful new book. Wishing it the success it deserves! x

  6. Amy on November 18, 2014 at 10:45 AM

    Oh my goodness…I love this! A post and philosophy straight from my own heart too.
    Such a beautiful and insightful way to look at staying calm in the face of chaos.
    Thank you Kelly and Cathy! X

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on November 18, 2014 at 4:00 PM

      So happy it resonated with you Amy! Thanks for letting us know xx

  7. Helen Butler on November 20, 2014 at 5:28 AM

    Great article Kelly.

    A lovely friend of mine, Susan, runs a great business called Mind Gardener. Susan was sharing with an audience at a conference ages ago about her ‘feet on the floor’ technique. This technique is specifically for busy Mums who constantly get interrupted by her children!

    Susan says that when you are interrupted by your child and feel frustrated/angry/annoyed feel your feet on the floor, take a deep breath, pause, and then turn to your child to listen to them. Give them your full attention, help them with what they need, and then return to what you were doing.

    This is essentially a meditation technique but it can be used straight away to help any Mum stay calm. I always remember this strategy as it’s simple and effective! xx

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on November 20, 2014 at 2:01 PM

      Thanks so much for sharing this great strategy here Helen! I believe I heard Susan describe this in a podcast recording and it really resonated with then. I’m so happy you’ve spelled it out again so clearly here for everyone to see 🙂

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