Help Your Kids Hit Reset on Their Bad Mood

Even after the tantrums and split-second mood swings of toddlerhood have passed, children still need a lot of help navigating their emotions. A sickness, stretch of rainy days or unsatisfactory exchange at school can make your once-lovely little one irritable for days on end. This not only makes them difficult to be around but also affects the choices they make and interactions they have.

Help your children overcome their grumpiness with the actions below. In the short term, you’ll help them hit reset on their bad mood. In the long term, you’ll teach them techniques for controlling their reactions, a vital and empowering life skill.

Play music for them— You’ve likely experienced how a particular song, or even genre, can totally flip your mindset. Costas Karageorghis, Ph.D., an expert on the psychology of music, says the right tune “distracts us from pain and fatigue, elevates mood, [and] increases endurance and focus.” Check out iHeartRadio Chief Product Officer Chris William’s tips on finding a playlist for your pint-size pouter.

Breathe with them—Dr. Kevin Gilliland, a psychologist and author, believes that the single best way to alleviate negativity is with deep belly breaths. Stand across from your child and breathe with them: Take a deep inhale as you raise your arms and a slow exhale as you lower them back down. Aim for three to five rounds. You also can try percussive breathing or brief breath holds.

Meditate with them— Guided yoga nidra is a kid-friendly technique that can easily be done at home. For an in-depth explanation of the practice, along with online, app and iTunes recommendations, see this article. If nidra isn’t their jam, check out these other meditation options.

Move with them— No need to make it formal: Dance parties, water balloon fights and living room obstacle courses work just fine. Studies show that getting physical not only boosts your child’s mood but also improves their school performance and helps them sleep better. Check out elite coach Brain Grasso’s games to help your family get fit for more ideas on how to inspire activity.

Get outside with them—“Just about everyone feels better after spending time in the natural world,” says author and journalist Richard Louv. Walk the dog, lie on the grass and look up at the clouds, or just let the sun shine on your face for a few minutes. See Louv’s tips on making nature fun for kids.

Give thanks with them— While asking your sad or angry child to appreciate all the good things in their life may only make them more sad or angry in the moment, starting a daily gratitude practice will help them default to positivity more often. Giving thanks, instead of whining or sulking, is a skill that you can help your child develop. If you’re not sure where or how to start, check out these expert tips.

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