A calm-down corner can diffuse tantrums in the making. It is a relaxing spot designed for your child and can also help them learn valuable skills for regulating emotions.
What is a calm-down corner?
A calm-down corner is a designated space in the home where a child can go when they feel their emotions are high or if they need to regain their emotional and physical control.
Kids experience meltdowns because they don’t understand what to do with all those big feelings. A calm-down corner is an effective method of helping kids process emotions.
Is this a time-out space?
According to our Pediatric Clinic in Redwood City, California, a calm-down corner is not the same as putting your child in a time-out space. But, it’s a place he can go to calm down when he notices his emotions are starting to spiral out of control.
It is a favorable and non-punitive option for a time-out space. It helps children develop emotional regulation, provides structure, and leaves them feeling safe and secure.
What are the benefits of a calm-down corner?
As a Pediatric Therapy Clinic, Developmental Pathways for Kids provide these tips to help you understand the benefit of a calm-down corner.
- Builds Emotional Intelligence
It is the ability to recognize our feelings and the feelings of others (empathy). Then, it also involves using that information to guide how we think and act.
The development of emotional intelligence begins with identifying core emotions such as happy, sad, mad, and tired. Then, we develop the ability to recognize more complex feelings like annoyed vs. furious.
- Teach Children that Unpleasant Emotions are Normal
Emotions, such as mad, sad, jealous, etc., are unpleasant to experience, but they are normal.
We often send messages that these feelings should be shunned and hidden, but that should not be the case.
Children should never feel ashamed of their feelings. Let them understand that how they feel is usual, and unpleasant emotions can be a learning experience.
You can tell your child phrases, such “It makes sense that you are feeling ____________, because __________________”.
This way, kids can feel validated and learn better ways to communicate emotions. If your child is isolated in their bedroom when experiencing big feelings, they may miss that learning opportunity.
- Calming Corners Provide Structure
Children need structure. They thrive when their lives are consistent and predictable.
This is true for all children but especially important for kids who struggle with rigid thinking. Setting up different areas in your home for other parts of the day, activities, or routines helps your child feel safe and secure in their own home. The calming corner gives your child a safe place to go with strong emotions. If you need help from a provider of Pediatric Therapy in California, call us.
- They Help Children Learn from Their Mistakes
You want your child to know that everyone makes mistakes. It’s okay to make mistakes, but we must learn from them. Explain to your child that making a mistake can make you feel bad for a while, but it doesn’t mean you are bad.
Understanding this helps children tolerate unpleasant emotions better.
Continue to reassure your child that their feelings are normal and valid.
When should we use it?
- Before things escalate
- For over-stimulation rather than willful disobedience
- When your child decides it’s time
Ideas for your calm-down space.
Create a calm-down corner with a comfortable place to sit or lay down. It should also include several calming activities for your child to engage in. These can be sensory, but that’s not a requirement.
Finding the most useful items for your child takes a bit of trial and error. Keep tweaking until you find what works. And don’t be alarmed if something that used to work stops working. Sometimes that happens. Just replace it with something new.
Here are some ideas for you to try with your child:
- Cushions with different textures (e.g., velvet, plush, sequins)
- Bean bag chair
- Coloring books and pencils
- Favorite stuffed animals
- Books about feelings
- Stress ball or fidgets
- Mind Jar – Glitter jar
- Activity books (find -a-words, crosswords, sudoku, mazes)
- Favorite small toy (e.g., cars, action figures, tiny dolls)
- Rubik’s cube
- Small puzzle
- Mp3 player with headphones and their favorite music or meditations
- Yoga cards
- Emotions poster
- Scented playdough (lavender is calming)
- Photos of family members
- Scratch and sniff stickers
- Notebook and pens
- Chapter books
- Fidget spinner
- Emotion magnets with a small whiteboard
- Small chalkboard with chalk
- Printable mindful breathing cards
- Blank sketchpad
- Bubble wrap
- Paper to rip
- Scented lotion
- Essential oil spray
- Chewing gum
- Chewable necklace or toy
- Small blanket
Once the calm-down corner has been effective, you must check in with your child about their feelings, how they are feeling now and how their behavior made you feel. This helps your child know what happened, sort through the emotions they experienced, and most importantly, manage how to handle similar situations in the future.
If you need help from a Multidisciplinary Pediatric Therapy Clinic, we are here for you.