Unfortunately, the mirror neurons continue working and until one person is regulated, the other will not be. Since a child’s brain is not fully developed, the adult has a better regulation capacity. Here are some ways parents can regulate themselves:
Neuroscience shows that slow deep breaths in and out is the most effective way to calm your body. Breathing slows your heart rate and actually gives signals to your brain that your environment is safe - taking you out of the flight/fight response of anxiety and anger. The key is to breathe out for twice as long as you breathe in - think in for 4 and out for 8. Not only will your child’s neurons mirror yours to begin calming, but their breathing will also match up with yours, further calming their system.
The human brain can naturally go to negative thoughts such as “Ugh here we go again” or “now the day is ruined”. These thoughts can lead to further dysregulation. Instead, try to be intentional and use positive self-talk such as “I can do this” or “All kids do this. I just need to breathe”.
Grounding skills help us stay in the here and now and allow us to be present and regulate through the duration of the tantrum. Some great ways to ground are identifying and naming (in your head) 5 things you see, 4 things you hear, 3 things you touch, 2 things you smell, and one thing you taste. It can also be as simple as holding a grounding object like a stone, intentionally noticing the air going in through your nose and out through your mouth, or looking for something around you for each color of the rainbow.