Stop acting so silly!! 4 tips for getting kids to calm down

photo by HurleyFamily via Flickr

Look, kids are going to be silly. They are going to be loud, laugh at nothing, and run around the house screaming with socks on their ears and underwear on their heads. I am pretty sure that is what makes them kids. (And the fact that it annoys us as parents, makes us parents).

The problem with silliness is when it goes too far, gets too loud, or happens in the wrong place and you need it to stop or to slow down a little.

How do you do it? How do you make it stop?

Take a moment to answer that question (even add your answer below in the comments).

Here are some things to remember:

1. Saying, “STOP” repeatedly is not likely to make things better

On the contrary, this might make it worse as your temperature rises and you become louder and more frustrated. You might finally get them to stop by screaming and exploding, but that really is not a place you want to find yourself. I recently talked about this on another post (read it here).

Telling your kids to stop doing something does not give tell them what TO DO, only what NOT TO DO. 

Usually, they will either continue doing what they are doing or will switch to something else equally as bad (or worse).

When the silliness gets to be too much, find something for them TO DO or specific to talk about. This way you are directing them towards the positive behavior that you can then reinforce and be happy about.

2. Slowing down from 100 mph to 50 mph is easier than going 100 mph to 0.

Another way of saying this is if your kids are really amped up, telling them to play the “quiet game” will likely not be effective. They are too amped. You are asking them to completely change gears. This is not likely to be effective for them or you.

Sometimes, it is just important to let them know where their silliness is OK:

“I love you guys are having such a good time, but I don’t want you to get hurt in the kitchen and it is loud in the den. I need you to do that in your room or outside instead”

From there, you can slowly transition them back into something more calm and appropriate.

At other times, engage them in a specific game or activity, as most times the silliness is a result of unorganized play or downtime. Using a game includes rules and a specific set of behaviors. From there, take advantage of the kids following those rules and reinforce/praise that.

3. Redirect the redirectable…

At times when kids are in groups (or even in pairs) we are often drawn to the loudest, the one acting most silly, the one who is throwing things. THIS IS THE CHILD WHO IS THE LEAST LIKELY TO BE REDIRECTED. Concentrate your efforts on those who are following or who are not already going full speed. Redirect them to something specific as mentioned above. Praise them. Attend to them. The other loud one will come along. (Read this for more on that…)

4. When all else fails…

It is not unkind to do a “play break” and divide and conquer. Separate the kids and give each of them something specific to pass the time (NOT sitting in their room being quiet as that might bring more trouble). If they can do that for a specific amount of time (it can be brief) they can rejoin each other (read more about this):

“OK, guys…that is a bit too loud. Jeremy [the least silly], sit here and you can either color me a picture of your favorite Disney character or help get those blocks into a tower. Sam [the most silly] I need you in the kitchen to help put the stuff together for dinner tonight. As soon as you guys finish…both of you…you can go back to playing together and we can talk about what we are going to do then.”

Once you have established a little more control, you can regroup with them and move on. The reward for doing as you ask is for them to be able to play together again.

See if this helps…and be silly yourself sometimes.

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