Temper tantrum brewing in your house? Try this breathing exercise to keep calm and carry on! Oh and it's for the kids, too! Try it for anger or anxiety! www.theshortesttallman.com

The 4-7-8 Breath For An 8-year-old

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Hi, Shorties! Kids are unique. Everyone’s kids have their own personalities, and I’ve often had the conversation with parents about how fascinating it is how kids can have such unique personalities, even when raised by the same parents in the same house.

One thing we all live with is emotions. And tantrums. Gah. Are you shaking your head like me? Man, those things suck!!!!

One of the biggest challenges of parenthood, I think, is dealing with emotional outbursts and teaching our children how to deal with their emotions in a healthy way. “Emotional Intelligence” is a buzz word I hear floating around, too.

According to Psychology Today, Emotional Intelligence includes three things:

  • emotional awareness;
  • the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving;
  • the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.

Temper tantrum brewing in your house? Try this breathing exercise to keep calm and carry on! Oh and it's for the kids, too! Try it for anger or anxiety! www.theshortesttallman.com

Emotions can create a low pressure system within our kids brains, and BOOM! A storm ensues: the dreaded temper tantrum.

Stomping of the feet. Shouting. Moaning and groaning. Nasty things coming out of their mouth. And worse yet- violent actions.

Although my oldest is typically the least likely to have a typical childhood tantrum than my other 3, she’s not immune. She’s a human kid, after all! And I finally got smart and realized she could benefit from something I learned as an adult to keep calm and carry on, as they say: the 4-7-8 breath.

We all know we should breathe, take a deep breath, just calm down, etc. We say these things all the time, and to a kid, they are so totally pointless. The 4-7-8 breath requires just enough focused thoughts that it helps to not only calm the mind and body physically, but it also can be just enough distraction to get yourself or your child to step outside of their anger to be able to deal with it in a healthy way.

In a nutshell, the 4-7-8 breath came from Dr. Andrew Weil, the well-known doctor of integrative medicine and author of several books.  The 4-7-8 is very simple: you breath in for 4 counts, hold for 7, exhale for 8. Do that cycle 4 times. I highly encourage you to check out Dr. Weil’s explanation and video here.

Obviously, this technique won’t work with little kids like toddlers, but for older children (you know, elementary age through adulthood!), I have found it can be very helpful. Once I had Little Tallman give it a shot, she was so much more at ease and able to talk through her emotions in a healthy way.

One of the most important goals of parenting, IMO, is to prepare your child for life. The real world. And if we can help them deal with their emotions, our children and our world will be better for it. Anger is a normal and healthy emotion, it’s just the one that can spiral out of control and hurt others- and ourselves- if we don’t have emotional intelligence.

(Kinda makes me wonder how good my Emotional Intelligence is….? You too? Oh good, I’m glad I’m not the only one thinking that perhaps there’s a bit I could work on!)

Like most things in childhood, it is our job as parents to help guide our kids to healthy choices, emotions included. Check out this article for more strategies on helping your child explore and learn how to keep their emotions in check. 

Talk soon!