Simple Tip On Gentle Parenting – Counting To Ten To Calm Your Child

Kids can meltdown and have tantrums for a variety of reasons – hungry, wet, tired or just not getting what they want. When you have a screaming, crying child you can’t reason with him and it’s easy to feel embarrassed when you are in public and people are giving you “the look”. You know – that judgmental look of “If that were my kid…”, “That kid is so out of control…” or “What is wrong with that parent?”

There are many schools of thought on discipline and child rearing. We are fans of gentle parenting – not yelling at or spanking children. One simple thing you can do when your child is having a meltdown is count to 10 with them. At the end, breathe deeply & ask your child to do the same with you. It’s simple, but it helps focus your child on something other than the meltdown at hand. It is rhythmic which calms your child. If your child can’t quite count yet, count for him or her and breathe deeply. You will see your child mimic your behavior. If your child is having a hard time hearing you above her screams, gently blow in her face. This triggers a natural reaction for your child to stop screaming and breathe.

What tips do you have to calm your child during a temper tantrum or meltdown?


Posted July 31, 2012

by MichelleH


32 Responses

  1. Felicia R says:

    I like to try to verbalize what they are feeling to try to let them know I acknowledge and understand how they feel and help them to understand it as well.

  2. Michelle says:

    Great tip Felicia!

  3. Katrina says:

    I honestly don’t think this would work with either of my kids…. They are both strong willed and stubborn. ;-) I usually just ignore the behavior (unless there is a legitimate reason they are screaming) and they will eventually calm down.

  4. Colleen Maurina says:

    This is a great idea! Our little guy is in his terrible two’s and there is no reasoning with him until he calms down. We’ll have to give this a try.

  5. Christina C says:

    Great idea! I am a big fan of gently parenting, and haven’t tried this technique yet.

  6. Anne Perry says:

    I love this!! For me nusing my little one usually calms him down. I will remember this for future use!!

  7. Bekah Kuczenski says:

    I will have to try blowing on my daughter’s face, I have never heard of that trick before!

  8. MichelleHalm says:

    Bekah – Just used it tonight w/ my rather “spirited” 1 yr old. It’s amazing how it helps focus her. Sometimes I have to do it a couple of times along w/ the counting, but it sure beats yelling!

  9. amy pugmire says:

    Thanks for these tips!! I have 2 that do tantrums on a regular basis now.

  10. This sounds good! My kids are grown. I will try this with my grandson though!! Great tips to try. I don’t believe yelling or giving positive reinforcement is good either.

  11. Emily E says:

    I do the breathing thing with my daughter- I’ll have to try adding in counting. I also heard to give them a drink to help them calm down but my daughter never seems to go for that.

  12. Jessica Beard says:

    Thanks so much for these tips! I really like the idea of counting with your child. I feel this would help calm the parent and the child. Focusing on this will help the child get back on track.

  13. Brandy says:

    What great ideas. My son will benefit from this.

  14. Sandy VanHoey says:

    I need to try this with my grandson. He tends to have several of these meltdown moments, especially when he is tired and it can be so stressful. Maybe this would help us both out by doing this rather than both of us being upset.

  15. sandra says:

    since my toddler is older, i have tried to count backwards from 10 as well

  16. I really appreciate this article. When it is hard for an adult not to yell or spank, what must a childs mind go through when they don’t have the tools to cope that adults do.

  17. Tammy Greer says:

    Counting sometimes does seem to help.

  18. Laura Jacobson says:

    Oh great tips. We will have to try some of these. Carter has started when he has a tantrum now to bang his head on anything around. Its so hard to keep him safe when he does that. Will try some of these to see if they will help! I will also keep reading to see what other tips anyone else has!

  19. Rachel says:

    I love the idea to have not only you count to 10 but to also have your child count to 10. Sometimes that doesn’t always work and if my son is past the point of reasoning and trying to get him to count to 10, I just walk away (if possible…I of course don’t do this if we are in public) or try to ignore him. He then calms down on his own or at least to the point where I can talk and reason with him.

  20. Mallorie Kelly says:

    I have come to find that every child is different and things that work for some children will not work with others but I honestly believe gentle parenting is effective. There is no reason to yell or spank a child. It comes down to communication. If you want your child to act like a big kid you should treat them the same way you would treat another adult or a young adult. The most effective thing I have found to work is to effectively communicate with the child what you want and what you expect of them. If they are on the same page you are and understand why you aren’t giving them their way, they are more likely to respond in a more mature manner than throwing a tantrum. Parenting isn’t easy but it can be easier with proper communication between you, your spouse, and your children.

  21. D Schmidt says:

    This post is very interesting and does make me reconsider how I react to that situation.

  22. christine jessamine says:

    this is a wonderfull idea. it not only calms you down and possibly your child but it teaches him how to deal with problems later on in life in a positive way. thanks for the post!

  23. Lindsey Weisbruch says:

    I really like this counting to 10 technique. I am going to try this tomorrow with my 21month old girl. She screams all the time, mostly because she is having a hard time verbalizing. So I take her in my lap and talk softly to her until she calms down to figure out what she needs. But counting to 10 together might be a good start to helping her calm down so she can tell me what she wants.

  24. Jessica S says:

    Great tip I will have to try with when my 3 year old has his moments!

  25. Amy says:

    We have friends who do this with their kids when they have a meltdown (blow in their face:) Our daughter is just at the tantruming part of life and we’re just experimenting with what works the best for her. Thanks for the tips…

  26. Alex Fisher says:

    My daughter is simple to calm down. We usually just have to hug her and calmly talk to her.

  27. Eileen says:

    Yelling just escalates the situation. I know it is so hard to remain calm, especially in public. But your child does not learn self calming if YOU are not calm. Be firm but be reasonable. And remember, each child is different…different personalities, different thresholds, so what works on one may not be the same with another. I am not an authority, even with 6 kids it is a challenge to get it “right”.

  28. Becky says:

    I love this tip and will have to try it the next time the crying begins in public. Normally I try to distract them or talk to them, but the older they get the less that seems to work.

  29. Lisa Welch says:

    I remember the most effective way to calm my daughter down was to hold her snugly and sing softly to her. For some reason, singing always soothed her, even as an infant. I used to have to put on a certain CD and just stand in the livingroom holding her, dancing and singing.
    It worked every time.

  30. Jana says:

    I never thought of counting to 10. My daughter normally will start crying if she can’t get something to work and she’s in a mood. I normally try to help her calm down by telling her to stop crying, it will be okay, hakuna matata! Then we talk about how to solve the problem and then I walk her through it step by step.

  31. Shannon Draeger says:

    I will get down to my sons level and sit him down and count to 30, I sit with him and tell him to Calm Down Calm Down. Usually he listens and realizes that I am there to help him through his meltdown and that I am not getting angry at him.

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