Are your outbursts worse than a baby’s? How to learn to calm down

We have all seen a full grown adult have an emotional outburst. 

We may have seen it at the grocery store, at the post office or just even at our job. The person completely loses their temper and is unable to calm down. 

You might be able to empathize if you have lost your patience at any point.  Yet, what is the difference between losing your patience and just having a meltdown?

It seems that things get exacerbated when we can’t manage a negative emotion within ourselves, whether it is anger, frustration or disappointment. 

And the result ends up looking similar to that of a baby or a toddler having an outburst over their own emotions. 

Some experts believe that there is a skill that is important to learn in infancy and childhood that allows for not only greater abilities in calming down, but also for a healthier emotional state and, potentially, life. 

What is this skill that could have such a great benefit? Self-soothing (Sandra, shouldn’t this word be “auto-consuelo” or “auto-calmarse”?).

Better yet, this is a skill that adults can borrow from the parenting books and adopt into their own lives!

Now, how does a baby or toddler learn to self-soothe and what can we do if we are adults that do not know how to do this?  Here are some easy tips, especially FOR YOU. 

Learning to calm down

A baby or toddler that knows how to self-soothe is one that can calm himself down and regulate his emotions on his own.  Knowing how to do so empowers a baby to actively take part in their own self-care to the best of their ability. 

Ways to teach your baby or toddler to self-soothe

Here are some ways to teach a baby and toddler how to self-soothe:

  • There is a field of thought that believes that if you allow some time in-between hearing your baby cry and rushing to help her calm down, it will help her to learn to self-soothe. It does not have to be too much time, just a minute or so. Waiting gives your baby a chance to find her fingers or toes and start to calm herself down on her own.

  • For a toddler, create a safe space in your home that will help him learn to self-soothe. It could be anywhere, outside or inside. If inside, you might want to include comforting objects such as books, allowing him to create this space with you. You can explain to her that this is a special place to go to when they need to take a break and calm down.

  • Model self-soothing behavior for him. Children learn from what we do, not from what we say. If she is able to see you knowing how to calm down, she will learn to do the same.

The last point leads us to this question: What happens if we are adults that never learned how to self-soothe?

If this is the case, you probably fall into destructive patters and depend on others to help you calm down and feel better.  Not knowing how to self-soothe not only impacts our emotional and physical health but also, and this is just as important, it does not give our child the opportunity to learn this skill from seeing us model it for them. 

Learning this skill is not only important for our wellbeing (bienestar), but it is one of the most important things we can do as a mother, father, and as an adult. 

As an adult, when we are able to self-soothe, we can experience uncomfortable emotions that occur in life (anger, frustration, disappointment, etc.) and allow these to pass through.  Knowing how to self soothe helps us maintain our ability to think and plan. 

Marsha Linehan, a leading psychologist in the field of stress disorders and depression, recognized the importance of self-soothing for adults and included these skills in the development of her therapy. Here are some ways that we can self-soothe as adults. 

10 Ways to self-soothe and achieve greater calm as an adult

  1. Light a candle and enjoy its light and scent
  2. Cook a favorite meal and enjoy the aromas
  3. Drink a cup of tea and enjoy it warmth, flavor, and taste
  4. Take a nice bath
  5. Bake something that smells delicious
  6. Take a walk in nature and breathe in all its smells
  7. Go to a museum with beautiful art
  8. Watch an inspiring movie or show
  9. Listen to beautiful music

By far, the best way I myself have learned to self-soothe and achieve a calmer state in any given situation, has been through meditation. It has been proven by science that meditation can help you:

  1. Reduce stress
  2. Reduce depresion
  3. Reduce anxiety
  4. Increase positive emotions
  5. Increase the ability to have more compassion

If you don’t know how to meditate, here's a great guided meditation that will be perfect for you to start with. If you know how to meditate, this is one of my go-to meditations to this day. I think you will enjoy it!

For me, meditation has been life changing and since I started, I not only have been better at self-soothing, but I also have had many other positive results:

  1. I have less stress
  2. I more time in my day
  3. I look better
  4. I don’t get sick as often
  5. I find it is easier for me to give love
  6. Much more!

As parents, we encounter an incredible amount of stress every day (even every hour or every second!). Participating in self-soothing activities will help us and our children live with greater calm.

You can learn to self-soothe starting today, even if you never learned to do this

Start today with some of the activities above, for your health and that of your family.

Lots of love,