When we have big feelings, it can help to take a moment to calm down and start again.

Being in close quarters while dealing with the stresses of daily life can sometimes take the fun out of spending time together. It’s understandable that children and grown-ups may feel annoyed or frustrated from time to time. When big feelings happen, it’s important to find ways to calm down and move forward together. Review the ideas below with your family. You might talk about strategies that appeal to you and then make a “positivity plan” to stick to when you have big feelings.

Take a “Me Moment”

It’s usually a good idea to talk about our big feelings. But occasionally, one of the most helpful things we can do before talking about our feelings—for example when we’re feeling annoyed, frustrated, or disappointed—is to take a “me moment.” Like a self-imposed time-out, taking a “me moment” is when we make the choice to step away from a stressful or uncomfortable situation in order to calm down before re-engaging with others. A “me moment” might be an especially good idea if you think your big feelings might cause you to say or do something that is unkind. In a situation like that, taking a moment to ‘collect’ yourself, is a respectful choice. It lets others know that you care about them and your relationship with them.

To signal that you need a “me moment,” you can say something like, “I need a moment to take a deep breath.” Or “I’m having big feelings. I’ll feel better in just a minute.” You could also use other cues, such as…

  • a colored piece of paper on a door (think ‘red light, green light’)
  • a timer—when the alarm chimes, others will know you’re ready to re-engage with them
  • a special space in your home, such as a bedroom, a chair, or a quiet corner

Be sure to talk about expectations with your family. If someone needs a “me moment,” how can other family members be respectful? Respectful behaviors might include being quiet, not talking to that person for a while, also taking a “me moment,” etc. Decide together what your family will do.

Feel-good Activities

The goal of a “me moment” is to calm down so that you can re-engage with your family. After stepping away (either physically or mentally), try one of these feel-good activities to help you reset:

  • Take a deep breath. Tried and true, this is a wonderful first step. Deep breaths help increase oxygen and improve circulation which will help you feel physically calmer, quickly.
  • Name your feeling. Sometimes big feelings are hard to pinpoint but having clarity about your feeling can help you take the steps you need to move forward. Help little ones name their big feelings by keeping a feelings word bank (with pictures!) in the place they like to have their “me moments.”
  • Move your body. Stretching, dancing, jumping, or running can help you release the energy of your big feeling.
  • Write or draw. Keeping a journal (or an art journal) or simply jotting down a few thoughts can help you acknowledge and express your feelings and may even help you notice some interesting patterns.
  • Listen to music. Turn on some soothing music or sounds from nature to help ease big feelings.

Read through this printable to help you spark even more ideas for positive activities that you can try during your “me moment” or any other time when your mood needs a boost.

Reconnect and Repair

Finally, after stepping away and doing something to help you calm down, take steps to reconnect with your family. And—if you need to—repair any ‘damage’ done. If an activity gets disrupted because you or your child has big feelings, always bring the attention back to the activity and finish it on a positive note. Say more than, “I’m sorry.” Talk about what happened, and say “Can we finish what we were doing before?”

Consider other ways to reconnect and repair, such as sharing positive affirmations or doing an activity your family enjoys. Remember that even though sometimes we need time apart, we’re ultimately better together! You’ve got this!