Teaching young children how to manage their emotions helps them to cope with the stresses of life, both now and going forward.
One in seven 4-17 year olds  experienced a mental health condition in the previous 12 months. Research has shown a link between the ability to emotionally regulate oneself and strengthened mental health and well-being. Yet very few programs teach emotional regulation to younger children.
Baptist Care SA’s popular Calmer Kids Program, based in the Northern suburbs, taps into a real community need by doing just that. Sessions include story-telling, yoga, breathing and relaxation techniques.
Almost 100 4-8 year olds across 9 Primary Schools and Early Learning Centres in Adelaide’s North have participated in Calmer Kids programs this year.
Attracting high energy youngsters, including children with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) diagnosis, Calmer Kids teaches relaxation techniques for children to use when they feel overwhelmed.
Teacher feedback has indicated improvement in emotional well-being and behaviours; both during every day classroom activities and in the children’s interactions with their peers.
Six year old Thomas* accidentally stumbled into a Calmer Kids session, with a staff member hot on his heels. Clearly agitated, he slowly started to join in and learned how to use belly breathing to calm his brain and body. At the end of the session, Thomas was visibly relaxed and ready to return to class.
*not his real name
If you would like to learn more about Calmer Kids, contact Baptist Care SA’s Family Mental Health Support Services on 08 8209 5040.
Baptist Care SA’s Family Mental Health Support Services (FMHSS) is funded by the Australian Government Department of Social Services. Go to www.dss.gov.au
 2015 Lawrence D, Johnson S, Hafekost J, Boterhorende Haan K, Sawyer M, Ainley J, Zubrick S: The Department of Health: The Mental Health of Children and Adolescents. Report on the second Australian Child and Adolescent Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing. Available from: www.health.gov.au