While kids may be small, they’re capable of having big feelings. It’s not unusual for young children to throw tantrums when they’re trying to work through anger or stress, and it can be difficult for kids to cope when they’re anxious, excited or overwhelmed. Tough emotions have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and many parents are looking for helpful solutions. According to a recent viral Reddit post, the fix may be simpler than you think. All you need is a warm, relaxing shower or bath and a popsicle.
“Some time ago, I read a comment about someone’s mother giving them popsicles in the shower to calm them down and reset their mood,” the Reddit user writes. “Boy, has that tip been a game-changer! Now, if I feel my kid is getting too wired or too sensitive or too anything, I suggest we have a popsicle in the shower, and it’s like everything in her calms down instantly.”
The tip may sound odd to some, but lots of parents swear by it. In the comments on Reddit, dozens of people chimed in to say they’ve tried this trick with popsicles or something similar.
“I’ve done this for years,” one person writes. “My daughter was having a hard time with school, friends and issues at her dad’s house a couple years ago, and I told her to do this. She rolled her eyes, but then said it was one of the best things ever.”
Another person explains similar remedies can also work for adults who struggle with anxiety. “This is like what I do when I have a panic attack,” one person writes. “I sit in the shower with the hot water running on me and drink ice water. It distracts me from thinking about how the attack makes me feel.”
Redditors also note that similar sensations can be achieved by eating a chilled orange in the shower or drinking a cold glass of lemonade.
The original poster theorizes that consuming a cold item while taking a warm shower works because the body is engaging in multiple senses at the same time, which can have a calming effect.
Dr. Emily King, a licensed child, adolescent and family psychologist in Raleigh, North Carolina, confirms that’s true.
“Physically, the sensory input that a child would get from feeling cold in their mouth and warm on their body at the same time likely [urges them] to tune into feeling their body in the present moment,” King explains.
She points out that mindfulness research has shown feeling present in the body to benefit us when experiencing sadness about the past or worry about the future because being “here and now” helps us remember that we are safe and OK.
King says there’s another element to the popsicle trick that may also be important: It’s fun! “Emotionally, being allowed to eat a popsicle in the shower likely feels like such a wacky suggestion from a grown-up that it gets kids’ attention,” she says. “They get excited and this feeling of excitement distracts their brain from the feeling of overwhelm or upset they were just experiencing.”
The pandemic has been a stressful time for parents and kids alike, and King says mindfulness-bolstering activities can help support kids’ mental and emotional health. If a popsicle in the shower isn’t your favorite trick in the book, King recommends trying calming activities like deep breathing and yoga. Active endeavors like hiking or playing a favorite sport are also good options.
“Any activities where kids can feel present in their body will also support mental wellness,” she says. “Connecting with ourselves in the moment is a helpful strategy when we feel overwhelmed.”