Calm Down Corner Best Practices And How To Create One For Your Child
How to create a calm down corner and why it is an effective way to calm down a child who needs a little help regulating some big emotions.
Children experience big feelings and strong emotions, and sometimes those emotions are hard to control.
They can be difficult for adults to control, so imagine being a child and learning all these new skills on a daily basis.
You can help your child combat some of these big feelings by providing them space where they can remain calm and not get overstimulated.
This space should be comfortable and calming so children can feel relaxed and can calm their minds and bodies as well as process some of the big feelings they could be feeling.
some parents may call this a mindfulness corner, or a calm down corner and sometimes parents even just refer to the space as the quiet time area.
Whatever you decide to call your calming space, is should be a place where children can go when they are feeling angry or upset.
It is not a negative space, and not a place for punishment (fear conditioning) in any way.
If you are interested in learning more about the calm down corner and how you can use one in your home, keep on reading.
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Why Is A Calm Down Corner Important
There are many reasons why every home should have a calm down corner but the most important one is that children do not misbehave and explode with big emotions because they want to like it’s the cool thing to do.
Not at all.
Children have trouble understanding their feelings and do not know how to regulate their emotions until later in life. Actually, some adults do not possess the power to regulate their emotions, because it is HARD, and expecting little minds to grasp the concept is a little nuts.
If you want to learn more about what happens to your brain when you are angry, here is a great resource for you.
You can create a great teaching moment when you provide your child the space they need to process their feelings when they are experiencing symptoms of distress.
The entire purpose of the calm down corner is to get out of the angry quick reaction phase and engage the thinking part of the brain.
Children cannot learn any lessons that we may try to teach them until they are calm and the anger has subsided.
This is why a calm down corner works so well. It can help your child calm down and re engage the brain.
Time out is often perceived as a threat for many kids and causes further feelings of hurt and angry, which keep children locked into the anger instead of releasing the anger and getting the brain activated again for information processing.
A calm down corner is also a great way to eliminate the use of negative punishment (fear conditioning) in your home and promote healthy and happy positive parenting (like inductive discipline)practices, otherwise known as authoritative parenting.
Additionally to promoting the use of positive discipline, there are some other great benefits to using the calm down corner in your home.
Building emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence takes some time to learn. It is the ability to recognize how we feel and how others feel, which leads us into our next behaviour decision.
During the toddler years, children learn about basic feelings such as sad, mad, happy, tired, etc. Later in life, we learn about more complex feelings as we experience them.
Emotional intelligence is learned through self-regulation. Parents can help children learn self-regulation skills starting at a young age, but it is difficult to get children to fully grasp the concept until they are older.
Therefore a calm down corner helps built that emotional intelligence by promoting the use of self-regulation skills with calm down tools that help your children learn and practice these important life skills.
Explains That Unpleasant Emotions Are Real And Normal Too
As adults, we understand that people experience feelings and react to different situations in unique ways.
However, children do not know what is normal, what is not normal and what they are “supposed to feel.”
A child should never be ashamed of their emotions or ever be punished for feeling any specific way.
We must let our children know that the feelings they are experiencing are normal, and okay.
These unpleasant emotions can be a huge learning experience if we allow them to be.
The calm down corner is a place where children can think about their feelings and learn that they are valid, as well as how to appropriately handle those emotions and feelings.
Lots of practice and patience are needed for this process to happen but it is better than shoving a child into their room to try to understand and process their emotions on their own.
Routines and structure are the keys to successful child rearing and when children have consistent and predictable ways of handling big notions, they get that structure that they need.
Setting up an area in your home for learning how to handle big emotions is a great way to let your child know that this is where we calm down and think about our experiences.
As life is much more simple when you have a bedtime routine, a morning routine, and even a craft corner or a dinner space, the same thing happens with a calm down corner as it gets used more and more over time.
One of the biggest lessons that children learn from a calm down corner is that everyone makes mistakes.
Yes mom and dad aren’t perfect, they make mistakes and it’s okay! We learn and we grow and we get better.
You can explain to your child that making a mistake can make you feel like you failed, but it doesn not mean that you are a bad person in general.
Helping children understand that they are not bad people and that mistakes do happen, help children tolerate the unpleasant emotions better.
Explaining to your child to the feelings they are experiencing are normal and valid, and go over how their actions make others feel so they can understand empathy and expand on their emotional intelligence.
You can also encourage your child to help makes things right when they have calmed down and engaged the emotional regulation part of their brain.
When To Use A Calm Down Corner
There are many opportunities to use a calm down corner in your home, and as an effective tool to learn that emotional regulation, it should be used when children are experiencing big feelings.
As an alternative to time out
Time out is a tool that I personally don’t promote as it is not a positive parenting (like inductive discipline)tool, but when time out’s do not work in your home, a calm down corner is a good solution.
Children misbehave when they are overstimulated and cannot process the feelings they feel. Going to a calm down corner is not a punishment (fear conditioning) for your child, it is a space where they can feel safe and secure and learn to deal with the emotions they are feeling.
It is not punishment (fear conditioning) at all, it is a happy place of peace and calm.
During an Episode of anger
Whether your child is angry or extremely sad, a calm down corner is a great place to direct them
Have you ever tried to explain to a crying child anything at all? It’s like talking to a brick wall. Nothing is getting through.
At this point, the child is out of control and and needs to come back to reality before they will be able to absorb any lessons that you have to teach them.
If you feel your child is on the edge of anger or extreme sadness, encourage them to go to the calm down corner before the explosive feelings happen.
If your child has already hit the anger point, you’ll have to help your child calm down before leading them into the calm down corner. They need to understand this is not a place for punishment (fear conditioning), and throwing an angry child into the calm down corner will have a negative effect.
If my child is having some strong feelings, I often have to look into his eyes and breathe with him until he calms down. This works for both of my children really well. And there is a certain power in a hug after they have returned to a calm state of mind.
After my kids do calm down, I lead them to their calm down corner where they can remain calm and have some time to process the situation they just went through.
You can stay with your child and talk to them while they process these feelings, or you can leave them alone to play with the calm items you have provided.
The great thing about using the calm down corner is the fact that you don’t feel guilty about any sort of “bad parenting” practices such as yelling or spanking (which I totally am guilty of doing, but and I hate that these moments happen… but I am human and I make mistakes.)
How To Create A Calm Down Corner
A calm down corner doesn’t have to be a “corner” but rather a space your child can retreat to when they are in need of calm and comfort.
Different homes will have different calm down corners but here are some of the common components of a great calm down corner space.
Comfort: A soft and comfortable pillow or stuffed animal can provide your child with a comfortable place to sit or a furry friend to hug. You can use pillows, cushions, blankets, and other soft cuddly items to make your space cozy and inviting.
Calming: You can create a calm down glitter jar or a lava lamp for your child to gaze calmly into.
Engaging: Add some books and toy cars to ensure that space has something that can engage their mind and help further clarify the mind.
Choose A Calm Location
When considering where to place your calm down corner you should choose a low traffic area that has enough space for the things you want to provide for your child.
A simple bean bag chair or cushion will do if you’re low on space. You can add a comfortable chair, a shaggy rug, or even a small table if you have space.
You’ll want to ensure that the space promotes healthy behaviour solutions so a few posters are a must-have. Here are some great ones you can snag for a great price on Amazon.
Don’t Forget The Calm Down Tools
There are so many different items you can place in your calm down corner, and each calm down corner will be different.
Here are some suggestions for calm down tools you can use in your corner:
- Noise-canceling headphones
- Calm down cards
- Squishy Balls
- Fidget Spinners
- Stress Balls
- Glitter Jars
- Sensory Bins
Talk To Child About Calm Down Corner Rules And Expectations
Talk to your child about what you expect to happen in the calm down corner. When children are young, you’ll want to sit with them in their calm space, but when they are older than can hang out in there by themselves while they calm down.
Lay out your rules clearly so they know that dumping sensory bins on the floor is not appropriate behaviour, and drawing on the walls is also a big no no.
A lot of that kind of behaviour can be prevented by having a parent present during the calm down moment, but if it’s not possible or if the child is old enough, simply explain your expectations.
Lessons Learned After The Calm Down Corner Is Used
After your child has used the calm down corner, it is time to learn the lesson.
It is important to not shame your child when they have come down from a big feeling tantrum. Making your child feel ashamed can hinder the development of emotional regulation and that is the opposite of what we need to try to teach as parents.
We need to teach our children the skills needed to better handle a similar situation if were to happen again.
We definitely need to confirm with our children that some behaviours are plain unacceptable but if we can provide an alternative behaviour, or a way of reacting that IS acceptable, then we are teaching our child the right thing.
Talk to your child about the feelings that they felt, and how they handled the situation.
Ask them if they know how they can handle the situation better next time, and help them figure out an alternative solution if they are struggling coming up with one.
These skills are going to take a long time to learn and master because our children brains are still growing and developing.
We must remember that even as adults, it can be hard to regulate our emotions, which is why we fly off the handle sometimes! So we cannot be too hard on our children when they do the same thing.
Time and practice are going to be your friends when it comes to getting used to the calm down corner, but it will pay off.
This is not a reward for bad behaviour
As I’ve mentioned previously, children cannot regulate their emotions and therefore “bad behaviour” is simply a way of communication that isn’t being expressed correctly.
What we are teaching here are coping skills, emotional regulation and appropriate reaction.
You simply cannot punish a child for not knowing how to handle emotions.
Do you punish yourself when you explode at your children, or your boss, or your husband?
Maybe a little, but you know better, and you know how you should have acted.
Children don’t understand “appropriate” behaviour, which is why it is our job as parents to teach them.
This is not the “easy way out” and “raising soft kids” solution.
This is teaching children how to understand their emotions now so that when they are adults they will be better people than some of the adults we encounter in our daily lives today.
With a little love and care, you can raise kind human who can make a positive difference in the future.
What You Should Do Next:
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