Do you need a more positive alternative to a time-out for your little one? Would you like to help your child learn how to calm themselves down when they’re feeling all sort of emotions such as stress, anxiety, nervousness, etc.? A “Calming Corner” is just the right thing! It’s a nice and cozy space that your child can visit to express their feelings in a positive and safe way without judgment. At the same time, they learn how to calm their bodies. Think of it as a soothing space that helps them regulate their emotions. So, before you or they feel a tantrum beginning, when you notice any signs of sadness, stress, or anxiety starting, a visit to the calming corner can help to ease any tension or negative feelings that they currently have.
I have used calming corners in my classroom for several years now. I'm a big proponent of them and share their effectiveness with all the families that I've worked with over the years. With a calming corner, I include a few items in a basket that I’ve seen that most kids enjoy. Sometimes, depending on the situation or the child, I have them either stay at the calming corner if they choose or they can bring along our class calming basket back to their desk. You can have this sort of flexibility at home as well, in which the “calming area” is anywhere that your child feels comfortable being at that moment in time. Here are a few steps that you can take to create just the perfect space.
Step 1: Choose an area at home. This can be any place, whether it be a corner, the back of a room, in a tent, along the sides of a wall, etc. Experiment with what works for your child and go with it.
Step 2: Create a comfortable space. Think about what they need to relax. Include a table and a chair for them to use if they want to draw, color, or play with puzzles. Maybe they might like a blanket and a pillow to hug or snuggle with. I find that hanging art pieces or family photos helps add to the relaxing ambiance of the corner.
Step 3: Build a basket with calming tools. Here are a few items that I’ve included in my class and home calming basket that both my students and my own children have enjoyed. These are: smelly markers, a notepad/drawing pad, stress ball, Infinity Cube, fidget spinner, a pop bubble toys, a feelings chart showing different emotions, and a 2-5 minute sand timer. Oil timers are also a favorite! It’s just so soothing to watch the colored oil bubbles float to the bottom of the tube.
Step 4: Teach your child how to use what’s in the basket. Before jumping into having your little one use their calming area/corner, going through what’s in the basket is really important so that they know the purpose of each item and how they’re used to help them relax. I use the sand timer to let them know that when all the sand is at the bottom, it’s check in time. This is when I pop in to see how they’re feeling and if they need more time at their calming corner.
Step 5: Set rules and be consistent with using your child's calming corner. Talking with your little one about what the calming corner will be used for and when to use it is so important in setting the stage for it’s success. Soon, your little one will know when to gravitate towards their calming corner for relief.
I hope you found this post helpful! Have you tried using a calming corner in the past? Has your child had success with using it?