Early Intervention Strategies: The 3 “C’s” to Help Avoid the Crisis Stage
Last week, we talked about ways to help your children when they are in the crisis stage, sharing what is going on inside their brain and what you can do to help them de-escalate. Are you thinking wouldn’t it be nice if there was a way you could help prior to them reaching this point? You can! In fact early intervention strategies can be key in helping your children manage their emotions. Let’s consider this picture of the mountain. Beautiful right? When we hike, we are climbing a mountain and putting in the hard work of getting to the top so we can see the breathtaking view. Our ultimate goal is climbing until we reach the peak. However, when helping our children with regulating their emotions, it looks very different than our family hiking trips. We actually don’t want them to get to the top of the mountain because at that point they will have reached the crisis phase. The Mandt System® teaches that children (and adults) when experiencing stress can go through a crisis cycle. Prior to reaching the crisis phase, here are three “C” words that can be used with your children to help avoid the crisis stage: coping strategies, choices, and changing the environment.
1. Coping strategies- When your children become upset, something has triggered that response and their emotional state becomes heightened. Using a coping strategy can help your children calm down and they may need direct assistance or reminders to utilize a coping strategy. It is important to keep in mind that different strategies may be effective for each child and that these will vary depending on the child’s developmental level. For younger children some ideas could be to use belly breathing or hugging a soft toy while for older kids they can take a walk, listen to relaxing music, or draw.
2. Choices- Providing choices when upset can be a valuable tool. At that moment your child is having trouble making decisions and by giving them a choice you provide that structure and support that is needed. When providing a choice it is important for it to be simple and explicit. Giving your children a choice allows them to feel a sense of control over the situation. As was mentioned previously when describing what to do during the crisis phase, the body language, facial expression, and tone of voice of the adult can have a significant impact. Instead of crossing your arms or putting your hands on your hips, try putting your arms by your side or getting down at their level if your children are small. Having a neutral facial expression and a calm tone of voice can go a long way. These responses can help to not escalate your children’s behavior.
3. Changing the environment- Children can often get stuck in the moment on whatever is bothering them. By changing the scenery, you are changing the environmental stimuli and this can help them shift focus and calm down. Moving to a different room in the house or even leaving the house together can help provide that change in perspective. After using these strategies, your children may need time before being able to verbally process the situation that made them upset. It is important though to talk with your children about the situation that occurred when they are ready and to praise your child for trying to use an appropriate strategy.
Given the positive feedback we have been receiving about our blog, Think Happy Live Healthy will be hosting parent workshop sessions in the fall focusing on a variety of topics, including early intervention and de-escalation strategies. Please contact 703-942-9745 or firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up. We welcome your input If you have a particular topic you would be interested in learning more about.