When emotions are high with your child, how do you reign it back in? You’ve tried time outs, spanking, yelling, taking away privileges or belongings, but you’re still not seeing the results you’d like to.
If anything, you feel like the emotional outbursts and tantrums have gotten worse. Or, maybe there’s just a lot of disrespect going on instead. Either way, you need a solution!
The answer to your problem is to create a safe space where your child can, with help or on their own, work through their emotions and find a resolution. You need a calm down corner.
What Is A Calm Down Corner?
First things first, a calm down corner doesn’t necessarily need to be a corner. It can be any space in your home that allows your child (or even you) to get alone and process emotions so they can get back to their activities peacefully and happily!
This space certainly can be a corner. Some other ideas include using a bedroom, a small space in the playroom or the living room. Maybe you even have a big teepee you could turn into a cozy and peaceful space!
The location doesn’t matter so much. What’s important is giving your child a safe place to work through their difficult emotions in a healthy way that allows them to learn and implement helpful strategies in conflict.
What’s The Purpose Of A Calm Down Corner?
A lot of people use time out as a means to discipline their children. We’ve believed that time out is a favorable alternative to corporal punishment. But the truth is, time out is just as ineffective and perhaps even harmful.
Time out is still a punishment. It’s a tactic meant to cause pain or discomfort to a child in an effort to change their behavior. But it does little to help them know how to do better in the future.
Not to mention that children are often isolated and shamed while in time out – a situation that only breeds negative self esteem and leaves the child feeling like there is something wrong with them.
A calm down corner is not meant to be a glorified time out. It’s not a place where you send your child in a moment of anger to “think about what they’ve done.”
Instead, a calm down corner is just a quiet, calm place stocked with tools to help a child recognize, name, and work through their emotions.
A calm down corner can be used by a child on their own or with the help of a parent. The point is to give the child the time and space needed to process their emotions and come up with a creative and mutually beneficial solution to whatever problem they are facing.
We want them to feel empowered to make wise choices and to resolve conflict in a healthy way. That’s the power of a calm down corner.
How Do You Set Up A Calm Down Corner?
A calm down corner doesn’t need to be fancy or elaborate. You can create a space with just a few main elements. Keep it simple and peaceful with the right tools to help your individual child to self regulate (with or without adult help).
Here are the three essential elements of an effective calm down corner.
A Defined Space
Your calm down corner doesn’t have to be in a corner (although it can be if you want!) Any space where your child can go to be alone without distractions or an audience can become their calm down corner.
The official calm down corner in our home occupies a corner of our living room. However, I’ve found that more often than not, we end up taking our calm down time in the boys’ bedroom because it is a quiet place away from the hustle and bustle of activity.
We can shut the door, turn down the lights, listen to music – whatever works to help them feel better.
A big teepee is one of my favorite calm down spaces as well! You can fill it with big comfy pillows and soft cozy blankets. Your child can escape into the comfort of their teepee and close the world out for a few moments when they need to.
And a teepee can go in any place where you have a large enough open floor space.
Calm Down Tools
A functional calm down corner needs to be stocked with appropriate calming tools. These tools will vary from one child to the next, depending on what best helps them feel calm.
Your tools may also change over time as your child’s interests and needs change.
Some common tools (and some I personally like) that you may want to keep in your corner to help your child calm their bodies and minds include:
- coloring books, paper, and crayons or colored pencils
- blankets (a weighted blanket can be an awesome addition!)
- balls they can squeeze
- stuffed animals
- small hand weights (for heavy work to meet sensory needs)
- scissors (my son seems to find paper cutting therapeutic)
- anything your child finds calming and relaxing
- PlayDoh or clay
- Bonus: an indoor sensory swing
Honestly, you can keep just about anything in your calming corner. Whatever will help your child recenter and be able to calm their mind and body so they can process their feelings in a healthy way.
A few things I’d suggest not including in your calming corner:
- any kind of weapons
- items that encourage lots of aggression
- electronics & screens
- items that you know tend to cause frustration for your child
The Time In Toolkit
To really round out your calm down corner, adding the Time In Toolkit from Generation Mindful* is a great idea!
This toolkit includes six posters, a parent guide, PeaceMakers Mindfulness cards,* the “what can I do” activity mat and my feelings card set*, and more!
Each piece of this Time In Toolkit by Generation Mindful* provides the tools, language, and education needed to help kids and parents alike begin to learn how to label and manage emotions in a calm and healthy manner.
We’ve been using the Time In Toolkit* in our home for several months now, and even my just-turned-two-year-old has begun to be able to understand when he’s feeling mad or sad.
This toolkit gives parents the tools to help their child identify how they are feeling (both positive and negative) and find healthy ways to work through those feelings.
The feelings chart and the feelings cards show children many different emotions and what those emotions might look like. This includes angry, happy, sad, calm, determined, flexible, critical, reflective, confused, brave, bored, caring, and many more!
The calming strategies chart and cards give children ideas on how they might feel better such as close my eyes, take a drink, stretch my body, hug a stuffed animal, and more.
You’ll also meet the peacemakers, Power, Joy, Balance, Love, Peace, Intuition, and Forgiveness.
Each of these big emotion ideas are represented by a different animal and each of them help you and your child learn different things about themselves and the world around them. For instance, Forgiveness Elephant teaches us that mistakes help us learn and grow and that forgiveness heals.
Get your Time In Toolkit from Generation Mindful* today!
Our children don’t need more punishments. What they need is someone to come alongside them and help them learn how to work through their feelings, both good and bad, in a healthy way.
Using a calm down corner to give them the space and tools to do that is a great solution! It’s time we start teaching emotional intelligence as a basic skill that every child should have before they leave home.
It’s time we send our children off into the world as intelligent, capable, emotionally healthy adults. You can do it, momma!