It's About Them

Young People … Our Greatest Resource

Helping a Troubled Child Self-soothe (Part Four)

The information in this serial posting comes from psychologist Dr. James Sutton’s current work-in-progress, The Changing Behavior Book: a fresh approach to the difficult child. One of the chapters is on teaching troubled youngsters the skills of soothing themselves in times of difficulty. To read Dr. Sutton’s comments on this new book (which will also be available in e-book format), including a description of its 20 chapters, click here


Helping a Troubled Child Self-Soothe (Part Four)

Address the Physical Cues

Youngsters in deep emotional tormoil can’t put off being soothed, nor should they. But if they experience a temporary difficulty they should learn how to tolerate and manage, a focus on changing physical cues can be helpful.

All emotional distress comes with physical cues, specific elements of fear and tension that work on the body. These can be changed. The better the capacity to change physical cues in times of stress, the better the ability to self-soothe.

A child who recognizes that her body is getting tense, for instance, can to focus specifically on making her body relax some.

A child who is not breathing well can focus on breathing, perhaps even use the Breath the Square activity. 

A child who is tense and standing can sit down. A child who is tense and sitting can stand up.

A child who is tense and dry-mouthed might drink a glass of water slowly.

The important thing to addressing physical cues is not what youngsters do to alter physical cues of fear and distress, but that they DO something. It is an option of empowerment. These simple actions might not change the circumstances that caused the distress, but they do focus on something youngsters CAN control, however small it might be.

Watch for Part Four: Fall Back on Reminders


James Sutton, Psychologist


August 18, 2008 - Posted by | Counselors, Educators, family, Parents, Self-esteem | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] troubled child, helping a hurting child, soothing a child’s hurts, comforting a child’s hurts | No Comments | […]


    Pingback by Helping a Troubled Child Self-Soothe (Part Five) « It’s About Them | August 23, 2008 | Reply

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