This past week I had two mamas ask me for meditations to help their kiddos deal with anger. Sometimes I will just dash off a quick response and send a link for a book I like, but I wanted to offer something more to these moms because this question really hit home.
As you probably already know, each person typically responds to stress in one of three ways — freeze, fight, or flight. When we become angry, the “guard dog” in our brain, known as the amygdala, actually hijacks our “thinking” brain (cortex) as we “downshift” into our “emotional” brain (limbic system). I like to explain it to kids by using my hand as a brain model. Hold up your hand and form a fist. Now imagine your forearm as your spinal cord, your fingers (folded over your thumb) as your “thinking” brain and your thumb (tucked underneath your fingers) as your “emotional” brain. When we get angry we flip our lid (lift the fingers up) showing them how our “thinking” brain has been taken over by the “emotional” brain. Check out Go Zen’s explanation of the amygdala hijack here.
I’m a fighter and have been my whole life. When confronted or fearful I tend to rear up and get angry. I can feel it throughout my entire body and sometimes I really don’t know what to do with all that energy! But, I have developed a couple of tools that help me work through these intense feelings. It’s important to note that we are not trying to teach our kids to ignore their feelings. The goal is to teach them how to process their feelings… big difference.
Hopefully, you’ll find some techniques below that will help you and/or your kids, too. It helps to go over these techniques with your children BEFORE they are angry and make sure to follow up AFTER they have returned to a calm state.
Set up a Safe Place
My safe place is inside my closet. I have a little “calm down” basket hidden away in there to help me out when I need it. I have essential oils, a journal, a candle, some chocolate (of course), an inspirational book, and some favorite objects in my basket. My toddler has her own “calm down” basket in a cozy corner of her playroom. We’ve included a pillow, some bubbles, a smooth crystal, a wooden cross, a rainbow wand, a balloon, a stress ball, a snow globe and a book in her basket. Encourage and help your child to create a safe place with a basket of calming objects that is personal to them. Some other ideas may include: pictures, music, lotion, kids yoga card deck, art supplies, and a journal.
Practicing Yoga on a regular basis will help your children learn how to move and release emotions throughout their bodies. Here are some sample poses to try…
- Wash Away – Stand with feet wider than hip distance and twist from side to side allowing the arms to sway naturally with the body as you “wash away” negative emotions.
- Sunflowers/Moonflowers – Stand with feet wider than hip distance and extend arms out above your head. Bend the knees and swoop arms down to sweep the floor in one big circle. Keep the head above the shoulders and the shoulders above the waist. For the Moonflower variation, just bend the knees and bring the arms down halfway with elbows bent. (see photo below)
- Downward Dog
- Upward Dog
- Star Pose
- Child’s Pose
- Belly Breathing – Proper breathing ensures that the brain gets the oxygen it needs to function properly.
If your child is older and has practiced yoga regularly, encourage them to develop their own sequence.
Meditation can be a very useful tool when dealing with anger. By calming and observing the mind, kids (and adults) are able to process the emotion more fully. Try these quick and fun meditations…
- Candle Gazing Meditation – PLEASE practice this meditation WITH your children! Kids are very responsive to this technique and enjoy practicing with the whole family.
- I am Happy, I am Good Meditation (youtube video)– I learned this during my Radiant Child Yoga Training and have used it often in classes. The video shows toddlers practicing this meditation, but I have found this effective for all ages including teenagers. Take a moment to learn the meditation and then teach it to your child.
- Mandala Meditation (book)– Coloring Mandalas can be extremely calming and allow children to process difficult feelings and emotions in a more creative way.
Use Essential Oils
Aromatherapy is a quick way to literally diffuse the situation by accessing the limbic system of the brain which is the seat of our emotions. We use Young Living Essential Oils on a daily basis in our home. I love that I can offer my family a safe, natural, and effective oil to help them heal and deal with emotional pain. Try these oils for starters and to learn more check out this book, “Releasing Emotional Patterns with Essential Oils” by Carolyn L. Mein, D.C.
- STRESS AWAY BLEND – Start by rubbing this on your wrists and temples wrists and inhale deeply as you pause. Now do the same with your child. Copaiba promotes relaxation. Cedarwood is very grounding and stabilizing. Lime helps to cleanse and renew the spirit.
- PEACE AND CALMING BLEND – Rub this blend on the bottoms of their feet and diffuse throughout the home. Blue Tansy helps cleanse the liver and lymphatic system and maintains positive emotions. Patchouli stabilizes emotional balance. Tangerine is calming and sedating. Orange brings joy and peace. Ylang Ylang increases relaxation.
- JOY BLEND – Rub this oil over the heart chakra. I use this on my toddler and teen daily. If you find that they don’t really enjoy the scent just put it on their feet when they wake up in the morning. Rose has the highest frequency among essential oils which creates a magnetic energy that attracts pure love and brings joy to the heart. Bergamot calms emotions. Mandarin releases tension. Ylang Ylang increases relaxation. Lemon produces a deep sense of well being. Geranium helps release negative memories. Palmarosa brings about a feeling of security. Chamomile purges toxins in the liver. Rosewood gives a feeling of being grounded, stable, and strong.
Tips for Parents
Sometimes it can be nearly impossible to NOT match your child’s energy when they are experiencing negative emotions. If you find yourself feeling stress or anger when trying to parent, follow these steps and see if it helps…
- Remove yourself from the situation (provided the children are in a safe space) and calm yourself down first.
- Apply Stress Away or Peace and Calming to your wrists and temples and inhale deeply.
- Take some deep Belly Breaths.
- Practice Yoga (Downward Dog, Upward Dog, Tree Pose, Legs Up the Wall Pose, Child’s Pose are helpful).
- Sit still for just a moment. Close your eyes and bring to mind an image of your child when they were first born. Experience the same quality of love and affection you had for that newborn. Open your heart and feel peace and compassion for your child. Stay here until you can find that space within yourself.
- When you return to work with your child, be calm for them. Hold the space and show them love and compassion without judgement.
I know this is a tall order… that’s why it’s called a practice. Be gentle with yourself as you learn new ways to help your child (and yourself) handle emotions. Your modeling of these behaviors will do more for them than anything else. Encourage your child to teach you what helps them and grow together.
If you have ways that you use Yoga and Essential OIls for Angry Kids, please share with us!
We are all teachers
For more information on classes, workshops, and private lessons contact me 🙂