When mom Kayla McDowell’s son turned 2, she started working with him on a self-soothing technique to help him process difficult emotions. Whenever a tantrum arose, she would follow the same four steps.
The results were so life-changing that Kayla filmed and shared a video of the technique on her Instagram page, and the clip went viral.
“Big feelings in a little body can be hard for everyone,” Kayla explained in the video.
“Tantrums are tough, and I wanted a way to try and help him through them so we could find solutions together.”
In the clip, Kayla’s son is pacing the kitchen, overwhelmed by his feelings and unable to communicate what he wants. Then, in a calm voice, Kayla invites him to sit down on the floor. She then asks him to breathe deeply.
The little boy takes four deep breaths, inhaling through his nose and exhaling through his mouth as his mom has taught him.
Kayla then tells the tot, “Shake it off,” and he shakes his arms in the air to help rid himself of tension. Finally, the thoughtful mom prompts, “Listening ears,” and the little boy points to his ear.
“That way he knows he has my full attention and I have his,” Kayla explained.
With her son calm and focused, Kayla then invites him to tell her what’s wrong: he wants Mickey Mouse-shaped Goldfish crackers, a desire that he’s finally able to communicate clearly.
The pair always get “really excited” to isolate the problem and land upon a solution together using this technique, said Kayla. And it’s versatile; the method also works when her son is hurt, not only when he wants something.
Kayla’s clip has been viewed millions of times. Many social media users left comments in praise of the simple four-step self-soothing method that changed the game for this mom-son duo.
“Absolutely love how you helped him navigate his focus from ‘being upset’ to his deep breathing in and out … instantly when the focus is changed with the help of breathing, his whole responses changed,” wrote one person.
“This is probably the absolute best thing you can teach children to do when they’re upset this young,” wrote another. “It’s so much more likely that they will have stronger coping mechanisms when they’re adults.”
Watch Kayla’s impressive method in action in the video below:
All photos and video by Caters News.