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Positive Guidance for Young Children: Take a Break and Calm Down

Young children are learning to manage their behavior and feelings. At times, they may be “out of control” and need an adult to help them calm down and learn how to express their emotions in appropriate ways.

  • Take a break
    Sometimes children need some time to manage their feelings. Some adults call this “time-out.” When a child engages in dangerous behaviors such as biting and hitting, a caregiver may need to remove the child from the situation to help them refocus on safe and appropriate choices.
  • Stay close by
    Remain near the child during a break, especially when their emotions are strong. Help the child become calm so they can rejoin the group or activity.
  • Show them how to calm down
    Teach strategies such as deep breathing, hugging a stuffed animal, or counting to 10.
  • Make a plan
    Talk about what will happen next on the schedule, after you have addressed the challenging behavior and the child has calmed down. Compliment the children on the appropriate behaviors they display to help them learn what you expect.

About this resource

Setting(s) for which the article is intended:
  • Home
  • Family Child Care
  • Child Care Center
  • Preschool Program
  • Kindergarten

Intended audience(s):
  • Parents / Family
  • Teachers / Service providers
  • Faculty / Trainer

Age Levels (the age of the children to whom the article applies):
Related IEL Birth to Three Guidelines:
Related Illinois Early Learning and Development Standards:
Reviewed: 2020