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Key Takeaways:

  • TIPP skills in DBT focus on catering to physical stress symptoms to help individuals reach a calmer, more relaxed state.
  • TIPP skills can be helpful in high-stress situations, reducing emotional intensity, improving an individual’s ability to tolerate triggers, and enhancing communication with others.
  • The components of TIPP skills include temperature, intense exercise, paced breathing, and progressive muscle relaxation.

Does your child struggle with big emotions, meltdowns, or intense frustration? You’re not alone. Helping kids navigate their feelings can be a challenge, but TIPP skills in DBT can be incredibly effective for young people.

This article will explore what TIPP skills are, how they work, and how you, as a parent or caregiver, can easily teach them to your child. By incorporating TIPP into your parenting toolbox, you can empower your child to manage their emotions productively and gracefully.

What are TIPP Skills in DBT?

TIPP skills are a set of DBT techniques designed to manage overwhelming emotions. These distress tolerance skills encompass the following:

  • Temperature. This strategy entails changing your physical temperature to interrupt emotional arousal and activate the body’s calming response. When experiencing strong emotions, the body activates the “fight-or-flight” response. Theories suggest that applying cold can counteract physiological changes by slowing heart rate [*].
  • Intense exercise. Physical activity is a well-known mood-booster and can help burn off excess energy and release endorphins, which have mood-lifting effects.
  • Paced breathing. Rapid breathing fuels emotional intensity. Through paced breathing, individuals can slow the heart rate and promote relaxation [*].
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. This technique involves tensing and relaxing different muscle groups in the body to distract oneself from overwhelming emotions and release built-up tension.

Related Product: DBT TIPP Skills (PDF)

What are DBT TIPP Skills Used for?

TIPP skills are useful in various circumstances in which an individual might feel overwhelmed by their emotions and struggle to cope. They play an essential role in DBT for kids and teens. You might use TIPP skills in the following situations:

  • Feeling intense anger, frustration, or rage. Heated arguments often lead to overwhelming feelings or violent reactions. TIPP can help individuals calm down before doing or saying something they might regret.
  • Experiencing overwhelming anxiety or panic. Surges of anxiety can make a person act irrationally. TIPP skills can help ground individuals and bring their emotional state down to a manageable level [*].
  • Coping with sadness or grief. While TIPP skills won’t eliminate the trauma associated with a distressing or catastrophic event, they can help individuals manage their responses to triggers and the intensity of overwhelming emotions associated with grief.
  • Urges to self-harm. Individuals with tendencies to self-harm can use TIPP skills to interrupt these urges and redirect their intentions to healthier coping mechanisms.

What are the Benefits of Using TIPP Skills?

TIPP skills are an essential component of any person’s emotion regulation arsenal. They can help in the immediate moment and for one’s overall well-being in the following ways:

  • Reducing emotional intensity. The core benefit associated with TIPP is its ability to help individuals calm down when they’re feeling overwhelmed. They can help people think more clearly and act rationally. TIPP is useful in conjunction with other DBT mindfulness exercises for managing emotions.
  • Improved coping mechanisms. TIPP skills provide individuals with healthy alternatives to unhealthy coping mechanisms, tendencies to self-harm, substance use, and impulsive behaviors.
  • Increased stress tolerance. By practicing TIPP regularly, individuals can become more tolerable of triggers and stressful situations, allowing them to manage strong feelings without getting overwhelmed.
  • Greater sense of control. It’s not uncommon to feel your emotions are controlling you when you experience a triggering event. Learning and using TIPP skills can give individuals a sense of agency in managing their emotional state.
  • Improved relationships. Strong emotions can prompt individuals to say or do things to others they might regret. By being able to manage their emotional responses, individuals can be better equipped to communicate calmly and compassionately. TIPP is especially vital during the developmental stage and in DBT for teens, as older children begin to form lasting relationships with others.

How to Use TIPP Skills

Now that you know the value of TIPP skills and how they function, it’s time to put what you’ve learned into action.

Suppose your child has a meltdown because they can’t find their favorite stuffed animal. They’re crying, stomping their feet, and pulling at their hair, completely overwhelmed. Here’s how you can help them use TIPP skills.

Temperature

Validate your child’s emotions by saying something like, “I see you’re very upset because you can’t find your stuffed animal. That must be frustrating, I understand!”

Then, suggest a temperature change to disrupt their emotional intensity. For instance, you might suggest using a cool washcloth or running their hands through cold water.

Intense Exercise

Once your child has calmed down a bit, offer an opportunity for intense exercise to release excess energy. Perhaps you can do a few jumping jacks in the living room or a few rounds running in the yard.

You can even turn this opportunity into a game to compel your child to participate. For example, you might say, “Let’s race to see who can find your stuffed animal first! Time to warm up!”

Paced Breathing

When your child is less agitated, it's a good time to introduce paced breathing. Make it fun and engaging for their age, pretending to blow up balloons or blow out candles.

Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Finally, it’s time for progressive muscle relaxation. If you’re working with a younger child, find ways to simplify the process. For example, you might say, “Let’s squeeze our hands tight like we’re holding onto your toy really strong. Now, let go and wiggle your fingers like you’re saying hello.”

Repeat the process with different muscle groups like shoulders and toes.

When practicing TIPP skills with your child, remember to be patient. It takes time and practice for children to learn and use these skills effectively.

Ensure you model this behavior, showing your child how you use TIPP skills when you’re feeling overwhelmed.

Finally, always keep your interactions positive. Focus on praising your child’s efforts and celebrating their progress.

Related Product: DBT TIPP Skills Worksheet

The Bottom Line

TIPP skills offer powerful methods for managing emotions in a healthy way. By incorporating these techniques into your parenting approach, you can equip your child with valuable tools for navigating life’s challenges.

Discover other coping mechanisms through our collection of DBT worksheets.

Sources:

  1. Salminen, K et al. “Cold or Hot? How Thermal Stimuli Are Related to Human Emotional System?” Lecture Notes in Computer Science, 2013.
  2. Park, YJ and Park YB. “Clinical utility of paced breathing as a concentration meditation practice.” Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 2012.
  3. Jacob S and Sharma S. “Efficacy of progressive muscular relaxation on coping strategies and management of stress, anxiety, and depression.” International Journal of Indian Psychology, 2018.

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