I am a HUGE fan of having a calm down area for my kids. I think us parents need one too!
Most of the time my children visit our calm down area on their own. They know when they need a few minutes to themselves to decompress. This is a safe spot for them to feel comfort, and to remember that FEELING any emotion is not a bad thing. Occasionally I might suggest they go to the calm down area. I do not send my kids to a “time out”.
In this book, No-Drama Discipline – it explains how the misuse of time-outs is actually backfiring on us parents and children.
I never want my children to feel ashamed for not being able to handle a situation. Or embarrassed for having a feeling, we have emotions for a reason. Your brother knocked down your block tower? Yeah – I would be mad too! You just spilled all of your Skittles on the floor and the dog ate them? Darn it!! I would be bummed if that happened to me. It is A-OK to feel angry, frustrated, mad, scared, sad, and embarrassed just the same as it’s A-OK to feel happy, excited, silly, and thankful. What’s not OK is acting out in a way that harms yourself or someone else (verbally or physically).
A calm down area can be anywhere in your house. Preferably somewhere where the child can get a little peace and quiet. Having a small radio, CD player and headphones, or iPod and headphones with some of their favorite songs or some nice classical music is always a nice way to calm down!
Here are 5 Things Every Calm Down Area Should Have!
Children will pick and choose what it is they want to do in the calm down area, or maybe they just want to sit and feel secure in the space. You are simply providing them with different sensory objects to help them become calm and mindful.
1.) Blankets, pillows, and stuffed animals. Not only do these help a child feel comfy and cozy, but from a sensory standpoint these soft textures will help a child calm down. Maybe they need to squeeze or yell into a pillow to release some anger in a safe way.
2.) Something for them to squish or fidget with. This will help them take their mind off of what’s bothering them for the time being.
- Playdoh (scented Playdoh is a bonus!). Check out my: Perfect Playdoh Recipe HERE
- Fidget spinner
- A strand of yarn
- A simple brain puzzle – we LOVE Kanoodle and Puzzangles
- Stress ball
- Glitter bottle (learn how to DIY HERE)
3.) Feelings poster to not only help them identify their feeling, but to assure them that it’s absolutely NORMAL to feel this way.
Here are some of my favorites that I found on Pinterest!
4.) Paper and pen/pencil/markers/crayons. We prefer colored pens. If you are worried about your child drawing with marker all over your walls in a big rage of anger, go with crayons 🙂 I love to encourage my children to write or draw how they are feeling.
- Be prepared that some of their drawings or words might not be pleasant, you do not want to shame them for what they put on paper. Use it as an opportunity for connection, and be thankful they feel safe enough to show you. “Wow, it looks like the person in this picture is very upset – I wonder what is on his mind?”
*A personal experience of mine: My son made a book at school last year during free choice. I don’t remember the details but it was pretty dang sad and said the word “dead” on every page! In my mind I’m thinking “does this kid need counseling?!”, and my immediate response to seeing this book was “Whoa, I don’t like this book”.
My husband (who always seems to have the perfect reaction and answer for every parenting situation and it drives me slightly crazy in jealousy), told me that our son was trying to show me something about his day. Maybe it seemed morbid and not normal to me, but I needed to remember he sees and hears a lot from the other kids in school. And I want him to feel comfortable showing me these drawings and words. Maybe it’s a cry for help, maybe he’s confused, or maybe it’s just him thinking he’s funny and doing what other kids are doing. Regardless, I’d rather he feels comfortable showing me.*
5.) Books!! In our calm down area, I love having a mix of books about feelings and just plain SILLY books to cheer them up! Even if your child is too young to read the words, just looking at the pictures and remembering the story from when you’ve read it out loud will help them regulate their feelings.
Check out these GREAT Kid’s Books About Emotions & Feelings
If you already have a calm down area, or are making one – please share your pictures on Instagram using hashtag #asimplekindofmom