This TikTok Trick Helps My Toddler When He’s Having Big Feelings

Try this simple trick to calm your kiddo down.

By: Amanda Mushro

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A man with a boy standing at home, cooking.


A man with a boy standing at home, cooking.

Photo by: Halfpoint Images

Halfpoint Images

My three-year-old does everything big. He laughs big, he plays big, and when it comes to his emotions, he’s got big feelings. Like most toddlers, he can quickly switch from a happy little guy to a not-so-happy guy in a minute. We all dread toddler tantrums, but they happen. So, if you’re dealing with big feelings with little kids, keep reading.

There are so many reasons why toddlers are reduced to tantrums and tears. Maybe it’s a misunderstanding in language. Toddlers are rapidly developing their communication skills as well as how they process language. A tantrum may come from us not understanding what they are trying to tell us. It can also be as simple as they’re feeling tired, hungry, or just cranky. Other times, there seems to be no rhyme or reason why they are so upset. Just the joys of having a toddler.

However, having a few tricks up your sleeve to calm your toddler is important — for them and for you.

Recently I found a simple trick that immediately calms my son and it has become a part of our daily routine — even when he’s feeling happy and calm. We call it "big squeezes" and I actually learned about this sensory regulating activity on TikTok.

According to Kristen Schofield, the mom who posted the video, she learned this trick from an Occupational Therapist. "When his emotions are so big, we apply firm pressure to his head, arms, and legs. And just like that, we’re back to even."

Starting from her toddler's head all the way down to his feet, she slowly gives her son big squeezes. These gentle squeezes help alleviate stress, anxiety, and the overwhelming emotions kids can feel when they’re upset. The gentle pressure helps to calm kids and makes them feel centered. I like to think of it like a weighted blanket that can feel relaxing and soothing.

It’s also a great distraction to use instead of offering up a treat (which I was doing a lot).

When I could see my son was getting ready to spiral into a tantrum, I’d ask him "Do you want a big squeeze?" and he always answers yes. Then I start at the top of his head and count to three for each squeeze. When I reach his toes, I can see that he is calmer and more relaxed. Also, we always finish with a big bear hug!

He actually likes it so much that he randomly asks for a big squeeze throughout the day because he likes the feeling of pressure and the hugs at the end. It’s become a technique that he loves, and I do too because I will always say yes to extra hugs and cuddles with my little guy.

If you want to try this with your child, here are a few times during the day when it works well for us:

  • If your toddler is having a hard time calming down before bed or naptime
  • When they are feeling overwhelmed or anxious
  • When you can tell a tantrum is coming
  • If they have been hurt
  • When they just need a little extra love

Even though my son is three, I could see this being a great technique to try with older kids too. Try it if they are feeling restless before bed or anxious about a situation.

Sometimes, tantrums are unavoidable, but giving our kids ways to deal with emotions will help them feel extra love and support. If you try the big squeezes with your kids, let me know how it works for them!


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