Calm-Down Tools: 70 Ways to Calm Down and Reclaim Patience in the Heat of Anger

Children need an adult’s help to calm down just as they need an adult’s help to learn Math. We don’t give a child a math book and send them to their room and tell them to come out when they have learned it. Sometimes the instances they need us the most, when they are experiencing strong emotions like anger and frustration, is the time we choose to be with them the least when we enforce their time-out away from us.

They need our help, direction and practice in handling their feelings. Placing them in Time-out and isolating them is not the best way to teach children to calm-down. It’s a punishment. Taking your time-out is the best way to teach children that a time-out is a good relationship skill and not a punishment. After all – kids model what we do.

Here are some ways to help your child (and you!) calm-down in the heat of anger and meltdowns. Be with them and use some of these tools. Help them move to use them. Create a Time-In place with some of these tools available and go use them with your child. Do it with your child in the heat of the moment and then talk about his feelings after he has calmed down. Eventually, with age and development of his executive function self-control, in the pre-frontal cortex, your child will use his words and choose a calm-down tool as his way of handling anger and frustration, instead of hitting, biting, and pushing and throwing that many young child use because they don’t have self-control or words yet. It will come! Children have from ages 0-13 years to practice using calm-down tools instead of harming others or objects.

It is important to teach him the calm-down tools when everyone is calm – not in the middle of a meltdown. If he knows the tools, then when he is angry, help him move to use them. Don’t lecture – just act! If you are also angry, make sure that you’ve used the tools first to calm yourself down enough to be a helper to your child!

Auditory/Verbal Neutralizers

Yell into the toilet and then flush

Listen to music



Blast the radio in the car

Positive self-talk

Do a three-minute silent scream

Say to yourself, “STOP! Breathe! What do I Need?”

Yell in the shower

Talk to a friend

Count to 10 while drinking a glass of water

Count to 10 forwards or backwards


Shsshhhhing sound


Visual Neutralizers

Read a book

Watch an acquarium

Draw pictures



Imagine feelings floating away

Visualize yourself in a calm place or meditate

Watch a video or DVD

Play a video or computer game

Creative Neutralizers

Write in a journal

Make a poster

Draw a picture

Write poetry

Write an unfiltered letter or email but don’t send until it is edited


Make a model

Play Lego

Play guitar or piano

Self-Nurturing Neutralizers

Get a hug

Bubble bath

Drink from a water bottle

Make a calm-down room just for you

Eat a healthy snack (not the ice cream bucket)

Go out with other people

Be alone  (The Traditional Time-Out)


Physical Neutralizers

Silent scream or scream into a pillow

Take a plastic baseball bat and bang a thick pillow

Squeeze stress or hackey sack balls

Pound play-dough

Take a shower, lock the door and sing or scream

Play Lego or K’nex

Clean room, closet, or yard

Knead bread, weed garden, vacuum

Take the children in a stroller and go for a walk

Dance, roller blade, bike, throw ball, and walk

Shake off feelings

Breathe in calmness, and breathe out slowly

Stomp, Run, or Jump

Scrub the sink

Have a cup of tea on the front porch or back deck

Blow in an anger tube (an empty paper towel roll)



Shred paper

Clear out the recycling

Use a fuss box (a cardboard box you can go and kick the sides out of)

Make faces at the wall

Have a bath

Mow the lawn

Stamp feet in one place

Hang laundry on a rack

Wring towels

Blow balloons

Clean up clutter

Play with toys

Humour Neutralizers

Make a joke out of the situation

Read a funny book or sites on the Internet

Watch funny videos


About Judy Arnall, BA, DTM, CCFE

BA, DTM, CCFE, Certified child development specialist and master of non-punitive parenting and education practices. Keynote speaker and best-selling author of "Discipline Without Distress", "Parenting With Patience", "Attachment Parenting Tips Raising Toddlers to Teens", and "Unschooling To University."
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1 Response to Calm-Down Tools: 70 Ways to Calm Down and Reclaim Patience in the Heat of Anger

  1. Pingback: The “YES” List | Judy Arnall

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