You can see your child out of the corner of your eye. They are starting to go red in the face, the tears are beginning to well up, and a meltdown is impending. You are in the cereal aisle of the grocery store, the middle of the mall, or even visiting a family friend. You don’t want to see your child go on one of their patented temper tantrums but what can you do? There isn’t a cure-all for preventing temper tantrums in children because it is unfortunately just part of growing up. However, parents who have steeped themselves in the practice of yoga are quickly finding that the solution to these temper tantrums may be in a couple of key poses. We’ve decided to pull together 8 different yoga poses that have been proven to effectively head off temper tantrums while allowing your kid to relax and feel better!
Positive Inhale, Negative Exhale
The key to heading off a tantrum while teaching your child some valid ways to deal with stress is by giving them something to hold on to that they understand. Your three year old child isn’t going to be taking yoga classes at yoga school, so you have to use words and concepts that appeal to what they can understand. When a child is on the verge of a temper tantrum or a moody meltdown then we stick to the basics: breathing exercises. This technique is called the Positive/Negative breathing technique. For this you will want to tell your child to take a deep breath. This deep breath will represent all of the ‘bad’ feelings that they are experiencing. Let them say what is bothering them and then tell them to blow it all out in the exhale. Now we want to tell the child to inhale all of the positive things that they can think of. Tell them to think of their favorite foods, favorite memories, favorite games to play. Now with those thoughts in their head they can take a deep breath, bringing in all of that positivity. Your child will like the idea of bringing in positive energy while breathing out the negative energy and the technique is simple enough that you can do it anywhere.
The Lion Pose
When you don’t have yoga studios to work in you have to rely on the old yoga teacher training that you collected during a temper tantrum. You typically won’t have mats and privacy to do your temper negating yoga techniques so you need something that appears fairly innocuous. For that reason we always advise parents to learn the Lion Pose or the Simhasana. For this pose your child will be asked to kneel down onto the floor with their right ankle overtop their left. Their feet will be pointed out to their sides and this will allow them to lean back and rest against their feet. Now your child will lay their hands flat on their knees or thighs with fingers spread wide, like the claws of a lion or tiger. Tell your child to take a deep inhale through their nose while at the same time opening their mouth and letting their tongue stretch out. When their breath is fully inhaled tell them to slowly allow it to come back out in a controlled exhale. It’s okay to make a little bit of noise here but you don’t want the goal to be about loudness. Repeat this process a couple of times before having them switch their legs in back and repeating it again. Doing the Lion Pose, or Lions Roar, will help slow their heart’s racing as well as control their breathing — thus effectively negating a potential tantrum.
The Cloud Pose
If you are in the grocery store or at the mall then you don’t want to cause an even bigger scene by having your child practice yoga in the middle of a busy store. You don’t want them crawling all over the floor either, probably. So negate both of these possibilities by using what you learned in the yoga workshops: the Cloud Pose. The Cloud Pose is a simple to perform pose that will give your child an opportunity to vent their frustrations in a positive and peaceful way all without causing a scene. To practice the Cloud Pose all you need is a little bit of space and for your child to be willing to listen to you. The Cloud Pose is simple to perform. For this pose you should have your child take a deep breath and as they do so, bend down at the knees. Once bent down they will scoop up the ‘clouds’ around them. After ‘scooping the clouds’ your child can straighten their knees and raise their hands over their heads, exhaling as they do so — letting the clouds float away. You can couple this pose together with the ‘Positive Inhale, Negative Exhale’ to hit two points at one time. This is an easy to perform pose that will become the bedrock for a whole host of other yoga techniques in your child’s future. Best of all? They won’t feel silly doing it, either.
The Child’s Pose
This yoga pose is ideal if you are in your home or somewhere that your child is alright to get down on the floor. If they do perform this pose make sure to clear the area and ensure that nobody is going to walk over them. The Child’s Pose, or Balasana, is a basic pose that exists within the arsenal of every committed yoga performer. Whether you want weight loss tips or relaxation tips, the Child’s Pose is there for you. For this pose you will have your child get down onto their knees, their backside resting on the back of their feet. From there they will arch their back and slowly reach forward with their arms straight out ahead. Keeping their head toward the floor they will slowly move their arms outward, stretching their back and engaging in a breathing exercise in the meantime. This is a quality pose that can slow down a racing heart and head while turning anxiety to dust. This is also great for your nervous system and your back as you will be taking care of both. This is called the Child’s Pose due to the simplicity of the performance and how effective it works on anyone of any age.
The Tree Pose
This is one of our favorite poses for calming down a child who is physically acting out and throwing a tantrum. The Tree Pose is effective and easy to perform no matter where you are as long as you have standing room. The Tree Pose is simple and almost iconic in its simplicity. For the Tree Pose you will have your child stand up straight and they will want to feel this through their back and up their spine. Once your child is standing straight have them take up a leg and balance it above their knee. Put hands together, palms inward, and focus slowly on inward and outward breathing. Bring in the positivity and then exhale the negativity. Repeat by switching legs and doing the process all over again.
The Savasana or Sleeping Pose can be the most calming and easy to perform pose in the world of Yoga. This can really on be performed when you have a relative bit of privacy. For this pose you will have your child lay flat on their back, legs stretched out and hands at their sides. While in this pose your body will instantly trigger a response that floods you with relaxation. This is a particularly effective pose for a child that is acting out due to being tired. While flat on their back have your child focus on slow breathing exercises while you calmly talk through them. If you are at home this can also be an effective way to get a tired child to go to bed.
The Star Pose
The Star Pose is another easy to enact pose while out in public. For this pose you will have your child stand up straight with their spine rigid. Have them then slowly spread their feet apart until they are making a small arching bridge. Now, with feed spread just past shoulder width, have them stretch out both arms in opposite directions — like a tree. In this pose they can fully embrace their body while refraining from the temptation to act out physically. Talk them through another breathing exercise and perhaps consider transitioning to the Tree Pose we listed above.
The Bee Pose
Our final pose is slightly more technical but still something your child should be able to accomplish. For this pose you will ask your child to breathe in deeply. Go ahead and join them before letting it all out. Now sit down on your knees and get long in your spine, inhaling as you do so. Now you want your child to slowly lower their forehead toward the ground as they exhale their breath. The exhaled breath should come out like a buzzing sound which is perfect for kids who want to be a little noisy while calming back down.