Creating a calm down corner for your child is so easy! We recently set up a space for our girls to use in their bedroom after finding that our eldest daughter needed some extra support after a big day at school.
In our blog this week, I’m going to walk you through the benefits of creating a calm down corner for your little learner and how you can prepare one using the resources in our Feelings Play Pack.
What is a calm down corner?
When your little learner is experiencing big feelings and needs some support to calm their body, you might find a calm down corner really useful. It’s essentially a quiet, safe space for your child to use when they’re feeling overwhelmed by big emotions.
As the ladies over at The Childhood Collective recently shared in a live about Punishments and Rewards for kids with ADHD, a calm down corner is an area your child can use when they’re teetering from the green zone to the orange zone. It’s a step they can take before they explode and find themselves in the red zone.
A calm down corner isn’t used as a punishment, rather a strategy in your child’s toolkit which can be used to help self-regulate and move through big feelings before they jump into the red zone and fight or flight.
When a child is angry and upset, they can’t possibly learn the lessons they need to learn because their body is in fight or flight mode. They need time and space to de-escalate and calm their bodies before they can talk or process these big feelings.
Rather than a traditional ‘time out’ spot, try using a ‘time in’ space which is essentially a safe space for your child to go when they’re feeling overwhelmed and need some space – it’s not a consequence, rather an invitation to come with you (or take themselves) to calm and reset their body.
A calm down corner is perfect for providing your child the space to self-regulate their emotions – even younger children can benefit from a space where they can go to deescalate or distract themselves from big feelings.
Setting up your calm down corner
Some parents like to set up a bit of a calm down toolkit which is essentially a box of resources and materials to help their child explore their feelings and self-regulate when they’re feeling overwhelmed. It might include something to comfort them (like a soft comfort toy), something to distract them (like a favourite book) and some sensory/calming materials (colouring pencils and paper, play dough, sensory bottles, fidget toys, bubbles). You can work with your child to see what will work best for them.
You might prefer to set up an actual corner somewhere, so you can add your box of calm down materials in a quiet space with some soft pillows and any relevant posters and cards from the Feelings Play Pack that you think your child might like.
Remember, this space can evolve over time. It might start simply with a nice pillow, cuddly toy, the ‘Calm down corner’ poster, ‘I am feeling’ poster and then a deck of coping strategies. Try using calming colours like blues and greens rather than red/yellow/orange. You might even like to diffuse some lavender essential oils or have calming music available to play.
How do you use a calm down corner?
A calm down corner isn’t going to magically work all on it’s own. You’ll need to spend some time modelling with your child and showing them how to use their calm down corner. This is best done when your child is in the green zone – they’re happy, eager to learn and able to listen and learn about a fun new space with you!
There is no way you can teach your child how to use the space if they’re already escalated and heading towards red zone behaviour – so make sure your child has plenty of time to explore the space while they’re settled and happy.
Ready to set up your very own calm down corner? Head on over to the store and check out our Feelings Play Pack! It’s filled with play ideas, activities and printables to support your little learners as they explore their own feelings and emotions. You’ll find all our Calm Down Corner printables inside this pack!
“We have some pretty major emotions in our houses the boys have always been very good at identifying and naming their emotions but we are particularly loving the calm down box and corner. It gives the boys a tool to be able to help themselves regulate their emotions.” – Kelly, Mum of 3 boys
When we can explore themes like emotions and feelings through play, we are meeting our children where they’re at. We can talk about things that make us feel happy and sad and use those experiences to connect with our little learners in a safe and engaging way.