Thursday, September 19, 2019

Name it to Tame it Mindfulness Exercise

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Ready to learn how to help an angry child calm down using mindfulness? You'll learn how to harness the power of labeling emotions with this name it to tame it mindfulness exercise for kids, while helping your child build their emotional vocabulary.

When your child is struggling to handle their big emotions, they might bite, punch, hit, and/or break stuff. They might yell and tell you to "go away" or "I hate you." And it can be hard to know how to help calm your child when they're in that high state of anger and frustration.

But many - if not all - kids struggle to handle their big emotions in healthy ways.

And some kids might need to be taught specific anger management strategies.

Regardless of where your child falls when it comes to dealing with big emotions, all kids can benefit from learning this name it to tame it strategy.

Name it to tame it

Teach Your Kids the Name it to Tame it Mindfulness Exercise to Help them Manage Big Emotions

The name it to tame it strategy was developed by Daniel J. Siegel in his book The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind (which is a fantastic book that all parents should read, by the way). As the name suggests, the point of this exercise is to name the overwhelming emotions using words, either out loud or internally, so that you can then tame those big emotions.

It's a simple mindfulness technique that:

  • Develops emotional vocabulary
  • Teaches kids to understand their emotions
  • Helps kids practice identifying emotions
  • Teaches kids to recognize and notice how those emotions feel in their bodies
  • Helps kids learn to self-regulate
  • Encourages kids to be in control of their emotions
  • Validates your child's emotions and helps them feel understood

How to Use the Name it to Tame it Strategy

The first step is to label the emotion.

You can teach your child to do this technique on their own or you can do the naming of your child's emotions yourself if they are younger. You could also ask your child how they feel at the moment and encourage them to verbalize their emotions.

I am worried.

I am angry.

You look frustrated.

You must be so scared right now.

And so on.

Once the emotion is labeled, you can then focus on the sensations that accompany that emotion.

  • Is your body tense?
  • Are your hands balled up into fists?
  • Are your teeth clenched?
  • Does your skin feel hot?
Then you use storytelling to describe and discuss the emotions in a bit more detail.

This video explains how to use the name it to tame it strategy by giving lots of concrete examples. It even explains four benefits of using the strategy with your kids.

Why the Name it to Tame it Technique Works

This simple act of labeling our emotions does work. It helps us externalize our emotions.

But why does it work so well?

Well, the creator of this strategies says:

"When big, right-brain emotions are raging out of control help your child tell the story about what's upsetting them. In doing so, he'll use his left brain to make sense of his experience and feel more in control." - Daniel J. Siegel, The Whole-Brain Child

Simply put, the act of naming or labeling your feelings allows you to think more clearly and gives you a sense of control over those feelings. It's quite powerful really.

And when you help identify your child's emotions, you validate them. You help them feel understood.

I encourage you to watch this video of Daniel J. Siegel discussing why this mindfulness technique works so well.

Other Resources You'll Love

5 Ways to Help an Angry Child Cope with Big Emotions

Emotional Regulation Resources & Printables

Free Printable LEGO Emotions Chart

Simple anger management strategy and mindfulness exercise for kids called name it to tame it