One thing that I’ve often come across as a parent is the term self-regulation. It’s an important skill that is beneficial for us and our kids whenever we encounter situations that test and elicit a big emotion from us. The only difference is that we adults already have the tools and resources we can turn to in such situations. Kids, on the other hand, especially the younger ones, still need to learn what they can do to self-regulate.
This is where the “calm-down corner” comes in. It’s a term used for the safe space children can go to whenever they’re having a hard time dealing with big emotions such as anger or frustration. To be clear, the calm-down corner isn’t a form of punishment or a space for time out. It’s a place where they can reflect and fully comprehend what they’re going through before having a full blown meltdown, let their emotions process, and bounce back.
How do you make a calm-down corner? Check these out so you can DIY one at home for your and your child’s emotional intelligence.
The calm-down corner doesn’t necessarily have to be in a corner, but it does have to be in a quiet place. Make sure that it’s free from any distractions like too much foot traffic, gadgets and electronics, and battery-operated toys.
The space has to be inviting that the child would want to stay in it. Set it up with a soft rug and age-appropriate furniture, like a small couch or bean bags. You can find alternatives that are already in your house, such as blankets or soft towels and pillows.
Sofa Chair and Kids Play Mat from @byoutyfulhomekids.ph on Instagram
Although this is a no-brainer, this can only be achieved through the use of soothing tools that could help children self-regulate and relieve their stress. Try placing sensory objects and toys which they could fiddle with their hands, such as pop-its, fidget spinners, clay, or sensory tubes. Sensory bottles or even snow globes are also a great way to just observe and just be still.
Soft Building Blocks and Pop It Sensory Fidget Teether from @hoshibaby.ph on Instagram
Multifunctional Toys from @bambinaph on Instagram
Snow Globe from @potterybarnkidsph on Instagram
These tools could also be as simple as crayons and paper so children could release their frustrations through doodling. Of course, books are always a good addition to the space.
Board Books from @books.for.youth on Instagram
Books from @owl.and.dino on Instagram
As early as toddlerhood, it’s already a good idea to teach kids how to name their emotions. You may put up posters with the different emotions or facial expressions that could help them label how they are feeling. You may also place artworks with breathing or mindfulness techniques. The space could also have a small mirror so children could observe their expressions as they spend time in it.
Emotions and Feelings Print and Positive Affirmation Print from @thefreckledpenguin on Instagram
Gratitude Journal from @skitbooksph
Emotions Cards from @emosyonbibo on Instagram
No matter how simple or elaborate the calm-down corner you create for your child, what’s important is that they know how the space functions and how it can help them. And therefore, it will also help you.
- Sarah Vallie, What is a Calm-Down Corner?, August 2022