and yes they can be taught from a young age!
Eventually, you will see them grow to use these healthy coping skills to manage their big emotions.
It is important to be informed on how to navigate a tantrum/meltdown (Read: How to help YOU Navigate a Tantrum). However, it is equally important to teach our children healthy coping skills. You can teach them throughout their normal day and use positive reinforcement so they have this tool in their toolkit as their brain develops to manage big emotions.
Remember though, a tantrum/meltdown is not the time to teach our children coping skills
Our goal during a tantrum is NOT to teach them coping skills. Our goal is to guide them through those heavy emotions.
The dyad of child behavior is to teach them that all emotions are okay and how to navigate those big emotions when they need some guidance. And breathing exercises are a healthy coping skills to ultimately get them through big emotions.
In the toddler years, my two favorites are teaching them breathing exercises and how to move their bodies (running/dancing).
Part of that is also:
- Teaching them emotions. Buy a book that has different facial expressions and have them mimic and show you what the various emotions are. “Show me excited!” “Show me sad!” “Show me tired!” “Show me happy!”
- Implement breathing exercises from a young age. Even before they turn one, they are mimicking what you do. So, from the moment they start copying sounds you make or facial expressions, show them breathing techniques. We started breathing techniques with Ryaan around 9 months.
- Model breathing exercises for them. Sit down on the ground, face them, and show them what it means to take a deep breath in and out.
- As they get older and understand emotions, you can say, “What do we do when we’re feeling sad?” And model taking a deep breath.