Children can really struggle with regulating their emotions, as they are still experiencing new emotions day by day, and are still in the process of learning how to manage and deal with them.
When children get angry, frustrated, or sad, they can end up having a big tantrum, mostly out of not understanding how they are feeling, or what to do about it.
This is where having a calm down corner comes in. It can be used to help the child deescalate these emotions, and take a few moments to calm down and figure out what they mean.
So instead of punishing them, or having them go through the flurry of motions without a solution, you give them the tools to self-regulate.
In fact, the calm down corner is similar to many techniques adults use in order to calm down when angry or frustrated. Taking a deep breath, counting to ten, practicing meditation or yoga…these are all coping mechanisms.
And the calm down corner can be an incredibly beneficial mechanism for your child to learn to cope with overwhelming feelings.
But what exactly is a calm down corner, and how do you use it for your child? We will answer these questions and more, so that you know everything about the calm down corner, in order to get your kid to use it in a beneficial way. Let’s get started!
What is a Calm Down Corner?
The first and most important thing that you have to understand about the calm down corner, is that it is completely different from the time-out zone used as punishment for kids. The calm down corner is not a place where you forcibly send your child when they are misbehaving.
A calm down corner is a place where your child goes voluntarily in order to calm down. It is a tool, not a prison space.
To explain it a bit better, the calm down corner is, as the name suggests, a corner to calm down. It is a quiet and safe place where your child can go to pause and reset.
A place where overwhelming emotions and feelings can be brought down back to manageable levels until your child is ready to talk about them or move on. It is a space that should be positive, free of any shame or blame. It is not a naughty corner, or a space to be used as punishment.
The calm down corner could also be referred to as the quiet space, the cozy corner, the cool down spot, or others. It is especially beneficial for children with autism, ADHD, or other sensory processing disorders. It is also a great tool for spirited children that easily get worked up over their emotions and feelings, and that need a way in which to learn to self-regulate and calm down.
How to Use the Calm Down Corner
The calm down corner should be used any time the child is overwhelmed by strong emotions or feelings and is acting out in consequence of this. So, for example, when the child is having a tantrum.
When you first set up the calm down corner, you should do so with your child, and explain what it is for. You need to tell them that this is the space where they can go when they are having very strong emotions, and need to calm down to be able to think better.
They can stay there as long as they need, and then they can talk about it if they want. The child should be told, right off the bat, that it is a good space.
When a tantrum or similar takes place, this is how the calm down corner should be used:
- When the child starts having a tantrum, ask them if they would like to go to the calm down corner, or walk them over to it. It should be strongly encouraged, but do not force them there and do not make them stay, or else it will become a negative space. (It might take a period of adaptation before the child willingly goes to the calm down corner).
- Provide them with tools or techniques to calm down. It can be through objects, breathing, or any other calming strategy.
- Do a check of the feelings. Encourage the child to reflect upon the feelings: what they are, where they have come from, what they mean, and what to do about them.
- Give the child some alone calm time, or give them another calming strategy.
- Do another check of the feelings. “Do you want to talk about your feelings more?”
- Once the child is calm and in control, leave the calm down corner and go back to whatever it was they were doing before.
How to Create a Calm Down Corner for your Child
The calm down corner should be a quiet, calm, and positive space. Somewhere where your child can feel safe, and self-regulate in peace, without feeling like they have done something bad, or being shamed for it.
The best way to create a calm down corner is by working together with your child. Find a quiet spot in the house, and make that the corner. You could add a curtain or similar to partially hide it from view, or turn it into a little tent.
Make sure the child is able to give creative input on the design of the corner!
Here are some tips and ideas for creating a good calm down corner:
- Make it cozy and comfortable. Include pillows, blankets, or any other soft items.
- Don’t leave it bare. Add landscapes, art, or happy pictures of the family.
- Fill it with positive and happy things, maybe even decorate it by painting together.
- Fill it with toys or objects that might help regulate emotions, such as sensory toys.
- You could also have music in the calm down corner, something quiet and calming.
Benefits of Using a Calm Down Corner with your Child
There are many benefits to using a calm down corner, with the main one being that your child will have a space to calm down when emotions are running high so that they can take charge of their own behavior and self-regulate when they are having a tantrum. It also means that there will be no need for punishments, conflicts, or a time-out space.
Here are some other benefits of the calm down corner:
- It teaches your child to self-regulate emotions
- It teaches your child that emotions are okay. And that although they can be overwhelming, they can be understood and worked through.
- It encourages your child to be more communicative with you and to express what they are feeling and why.
- It adds structure and routine to difficult situations, making them more manageable.
- It can help prevent meltdowns and tantrums over time.
- It boosts confidence in your child as they learn to be okay with their emotions, and see that they are not shamed for having to work through them.
The calm down corner is an incredibly beneficial tool to have at home, which will allow your child to self-regulate when they are feeling overwhelmed with emotions, and to deescalate difficult or conflicting situations.
It should be created together with the child, and it is important to reinforce that it is a positive and safe space, where your child should be able to go when needed.
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