How to Stay Calm When Kids Are Melting Down

Find surprising ways that stress and meditation gurus stay calm when their kids are having meltdowns.

I recently met the calmest man in the world: stress expert Ashish Pandya, dad of two toddlers. I wondered, how in the world was he so calm while I was a hot mess who needed to be whispered to while drinking vodka with a side of kale? Here are his (and a few others’) secrets:

1. Respond, rather than react

When his kids are breaking down, Pandya says he understands that they aren’t able to hear him at that moment. So there’s no point in reacting by yelling or by correcting them. The immediate response would be to become frustrated, but if you understand that they aren’t capable of hearing you, try to defuse the situation by hugging them.

2. Breathe

Whenever my child starts to have a tantrum, my mind starts repeating itself: She is always like this, my life is terrible.

“That’s because our past impressions arrive into the present moment,” Pandya says. Instead, he recommends you use this time to take a deep breath, anchoring yourself into the present. “This helps you see the situation as it is without bringing the past into it,” he explains.

3. Let the essential oils flow

The stress gurus love their essential oils, and for good reason. Lavender essential oil is thought to help ease your anxiety with minimal side effects. Other essential oils have different powers.

For example, Sara-Chana Silverstein, a master herbalist and the author of Moodtopia: Tame Your Moods, De-Stress and Find Balance Using Herbal Remedies, loves to add a few drops of essential oil to a small piece of terracotta. She hangs the cloth pieces throughout her home and office. Favorites of Silverstein’s include Ylang-Ylang, which relaxes and invigorates, and sandalwood, which promotes a tranquil feeling.

4. Hum or sing

Invite your kids to join you in the musical chaos. This helps because your vocal cords are connected to your vagus nerve, says Constanza Roeder, the CEO and founder of Hearts Need Art: Creative Support for Patients and Caregivers. The vagus nerve activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which also activates the positive endorphins in your brain.

5. Press to de-stress

You may not be able to meditate or grab a quick massage while your kids are having a bad day, but you can press on your energy points to get rid of stress, Pandya says.

Put your thumbs under your eyebrows, using your thumbs and forefingers to pinch your eyebrows. Slowly move your fingers across your eyebrows to your ears, making a pinching motion as you go. Pressing and massaging these points will relax your mind and body.

Danielle Braff is the mom of two girls, Anya and Aria. Learn more about her and her work at

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