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How to Get a Break From Your Child When You Need To Cool Down

When you’re starting to, or already have, reached your limits with your child, how can you get away without fueling the fire?

Take Some Alone Time

Very Angry Mother And ChildWhen you get angry, it is usually best to wait until you’re calm again to have a productive talk about the issue. Instead of saying things like “go to your room”, tell your child that you need to go into your own room alone to cool down. Talk to your child about “alone time” and why it is a good thing and why everyone needs it sometimes. Explain to your child that “cool down” time helps you to think better and talk better.

Pick a name for your favorite spot to cool down, and call it something like “chill spot”, “cool down corner” or “cool chair” and tell them that this is where you might go sometimes to calm down. Tell them it is very important for you to be alone at this time, and it will be only a minute or two (as long as your child is able to be left without direct supervision). Your child should choose their own spot in the house also, and perhaps they can wait in their spot while you are taking your moment alone.

Start Out Small

If your child has a particularly hard time with this and feels overly rejected, try starting out with short increments of time and gradually increasing it as they handle it successfully. You can use a kitchen timer to set a minute or two, and let them know that when the timer goes off you will be back. I suggest giving them an immediate sign of physical affection along with verbal praise to reinforce their patience!

When you do this with your child, you are modeling extremely positive behavior! You are showing your children how to cope with anger and frustration in an appropriate way.

Teach A Lesson About Anger

When you reunite, be sure to give lots of love and praise! Show them that alone time is not about rejection, it is about making good choices. Always reinforce to a child that feeling angry doesn’t mean they are “bad” (a very common perception of theirs that I hear about often). The only “bad” part about anger is the “bad choice” they can make when feeling angry and do not take time to cool off. “Good choices” need to be taught and modeled, and what better way than to let them see you use this technique yourself!

Don’t forget to use your spouse as a resource when they are around. Have a special signal between you that lets each other know when you need them to step in, so you can take a break. Remember that you will be much more effective with your child once you are calm and that self-care makes you the best parent you can be!

The Death Of A Pet: How To Help Your Child Cope

When your family adopts a pet, it becomes a part of the family. When the pet grows old and becomes ill, inevitably you must discuss the possibility of the death of your beloved pet. For many children, losing a pet is the first experience they have with death, and the grieving process can be difficult for themYoung Boy Hugging Dog. As you talk with your children about the death of your pet, it is important to listen to their concerns, questions, and feelings.

Euthanizing Your Pet

No one wants a  pet to suffer any longer than necessary, so some families decide it is best to euthanize their pet. Euthanizing a pet involves “death by injection” for a terminally ill or suffering animal.

If you decide to euthanize your pet, be honest with your children. Talk about death before it happens using age-appropriate terms. For instance, “We all love Bailey so much. She is very, very sick and can’t do the things she used to like to do because she is in so much pain. The veterinarian said that was Bailey’s way of showing us that she could no longer live the life she was used to living. She said she could help Bailey die, so Bailey wouldn’t hurt anymore.” Make sure that young children know that very ill pets can be euthanized, but sick children never are.

Be Honest With Your Child About What Happened to Your Pet

When your pet dies, do not tell your child that the pet has run away. This explanation can leave your child wondering whether he did something to make the pet want to leave. Also, don’t tell your child that the pet has gone to a farm. This could give your child the false hope that he can see the pet again.

Although adults often talk about having to put their pet “to sleep”, it is not recommended that parents use this terminology with young children (under the age of 6). For young children, sleeping implies that the animal will eventually wake up. When the pet doesn’t wake up, young children can develop fears about going to sleep.

I also recommend that you don’t tell your children that you are putting your pet “down” because often parents will use the same term when they put an infant down for a nap. This can be very confusing for young children.

Managing Grief Over The Loss Of Your Pet

It is healthy for children to see that you are also sad about the death of your pet. It’s a great way for children to understand that being sad is okay. You can tell your children, “I’m so sad because I really miss Bailey.”

Everyone grieves differently, so if your child doesn’t cry, let her know it is okay to show her feelings any way that feels comfortable. Your child may enjoy showing her feelings by looking at pictures of the pet, drawing her own pictures, or telling stories about  positive and silly memories of her pet. Why not make a book of everyone in the family’s favorite memories of the pet, complete with photographs or drawings? It will be a great keepsake for years to come.

What Happens To The Pet After He Dies?

If your family’s religious or spiritual beliefs impact how you view death, share them with your child. There is also a poem about the death of a pet called Rainbow Bridge that has a beautiful way of describing where the pet goes once she dies. I recommend that families only share the first three paragraphs with small children, as the next two paragraphs discuss people reuniting with a pet when they die. If your child is having a particularly difficult time with the death of your pet, this can be very unsettling.

When To Adopt a New Pet

It is a very personal decision as to whether or when it is appropriate. Children should not be encouraged to get a new pet merely to “get over” the loss of their pet. A new pet doesn’t replace their beloved pet. Once your child can speak openly about the pet that died and begins to show an interest in a new pet, then the family can discuss if it is the right time.

*North Shore Pediatric Therapy, Inc. (NSPT) intends for responses to the blogs to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; all content and answers to questions should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s). Questions submitted to this blog are not guaranteed to receive responses. No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by NSPT to people submitting questions. Always consult with your health professional first before initiating or changing any aspect of your treatment regimen.