Controlling emotions comes naturally to most children. However, that doesn’t mean that you have to accept them and wait them out. You can help your child control their emotions and behavior, and prevent overreactions, by creating a calming corner.
Controlling emotions such as anger, sadness, or frustration is difficult enough for fully-developed adults, Let alone, for a child who hasn’t mastered their coping mechanisms and problem-solving skills just yet.
The only way that children know how to deal with their big emotions is by expressing them just as strongly as they feel them. Unfortunately, this often means meltdowns and temper tantrums, which are next to impossible to tone down and control.
What is a Calming Corner?
Calming corners (also known as calm down corners, quiet spaces, cool down spots, sensory tents, etc.) have grown in popularity over the past few years, and are commonly used both in schools and at home.
They’re a designated place that’s intended to help your child calm down by distracting them from disruptive stimuli and giving them a safe and quiet place where they can relax and learn how to process their emotions.
Calming Corner; The Same as a Timeout Corner?
A calming corner shouldn’t be confused with a time-out spot where a child is sent in punishment and forced to do nothing but think about their actions. You shouldn’t force your child to isolate themself there.
You should go to a calming corner together with your child and engage in calming activities. To help your child calm down, you’ll need to communicate with them, give them positive attention, and discuss what happened. Teach them how to deal with their feelings in a peaceful, logical manner.
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Calming Corner Works as a Calm Space
The reason why calming corners are so effective at dealing with meltdowns and temper tantrums is that they are your kid’s own little space.
Every child enjoys having their own place in the house, somewhere they can go to relax, somewhere where parents won’t nag and siblings won’t disrupt.
Benefits Of A Calming Corner
A simple, quiet corner can work wonders for helping your child develop and learn how to deal with strong emotions. Here are just some of the benefits that a calming corner brings:
Children Can Learn to Build Their Emotional Intelligence
Proper social and emotional development from an early age is crucial for your child. It will shape how they’ll behave, what kind of relationships they’ll form, and how they’ll understand themselves and their emotions.
Developing emotional intelligence will start with identifying some of the core emotions your child experiences – happiness, sadness, anger, tiredness.
In the calming corner, your child will use the tools needed to learn how to identify these emotions, then define them more clearly – are you angry or just annoyed? Sad or simply disappointed?
Once the emotions are clearly recognized, your child will learn how they affect their behavior, and how they can be regulated.
Your Kid Will Learn to Accept Negative Emotions
Negative emotions are a part of life. They’re completely normal, and everyone experiences them daily, so your child should never be ashamed of feeling sad, angry, or even jealous.
Instead of teaching your child that negative emotions are bad and should be suppressed, you should teach your little one that it’s okay to feel those big feelings and to accept them. What’s not okay is to react badly when those negative feelings arise.
A calming corner provides a perfect, stress-free environment for your kid, teaching them the importance of accepting negative feelings and learning how to respond to them.
Teach by example. Tell your kid how you deal with your negative emotions, talk to them calmly, and have no judgment or frustration. Your young child won’t learn how to properly respond to these emotions if you isolate them to “think about what they’ve done.” They need guidance and understanding.
Calming Corner Provides a Sense of Structure
Having structure is of critical importance for a developing child. It provides them with a sense of safety and security and gives them more stability.
If they grow up in a hectic environment, where they never know what to expect, and when, this will impact their confidence and their ability to deal with normal life changes.
Since life itself is pretty unpredictable, it can be frightening to a young child, and it can cause them to overreact and throw temper tantrums over every small inconvenience.
So, to avoid this, you’ll want to create structure and routine that will allow your child to feel safe and in control. When they have this safe foundation, they can learn to adapt to changes better and appreciate how unpredictable life is.
Creating structure is all about consistency, from how you react to your child’s mishaps, to where you send your kid to do their homework. Going to a calming corner when they’re upset can easily become a routine for your child that allows them to control their emotions easily.
It Can Prevent Meltdowns
A calming corner isn’t a place where you send your kid when they’re already in the “red zone” – you know, that point of no return where there’s nothing you can do to calm your child down except wait a while.
You should go to the calming corner with your child before their emotions get the better of them, or after they’ve calmed down a bit. A calming corner should be associated with positive emotions or positive ways to deal with negative emotions.
You should teach your child to go to the calming corner when they start feeling their negative emotions arising. This way, you and your kid can control temper tantrums and meltdowns before they even happen.
It will become a habit for your child to go to the calming corner when they’re starting to feel upset, and the tools and toys in this space will help them ease their emotions with your guidance.
Calming Corner Builds Your Child’s Self-Esteem
Young children don’t throw tantrums with a purpose to annoy you. They do so because they don’t know what to do with themselves and how to deal with emotions.
Believe it or not, tantrums are often much more stressful to the kid than to the parent – once they’re over, your child knows that they did something bad. They feel guilty and out of control.
By teaching your child to regulate their emotions with the help of a calming corner, you’re allowing them to take control over those feelings and overcome them.
Dealing with their emotions gives your child a great sense of accomplishment, which will boost their confidence and self-esteem, and make them feel more capable, more in control.
What Can Children Do in their Peace Corner?
What your child can do in the calming corner depends on them. Any activity can be used in the calming corner as long as it provides a sense of calmness and tranquility.
You’ll want to avoid exciting emotions in this space, whether positive or negative. So, don’t include any over-stimulating activities like jumping, running, tickling, role-playing, or games that get your child riled up.
Go for more peaceful options, and talk with your kid to establish some rules.
Sensory Calming Toys
Sensory activities can be very soothing for kids who are feeling upset. Playing with different textures and materials can provide a perfect distraction from negative emotions, similar to how adults react to stress balls.
Some of the popular items used in sensory activities are slime, fidget toys, squishy gel bags, and even kinetic sand. Anything your child can touch, feel, and play around with.
Calm Down Visuals
If sensory activities are too stimulating for your kid, you could opt for a more visual approach. Fill the calming corner with pictures, posters, and visually appealing items that can soothe your child. A kaleidoscope can work wonders, glitter jars, and lava lamps are always mesmerizing and inspiring, and picture books are a true classic.
You can go to the calming corner with your child and start playing a spotting game. Ask your child to find ten purple items in the room that they can see, or give them a single letter and ask them to spot every item in the room beginning with this letter.
Chill Corner ; Drawing and More
You know your child best, and you’ll know which activities will keep them engaged. Popular choices are simple board games that you two can play together, storybooks with interesting characters, coloring books, crafting, and more.
Whatever activity you and your child choose, make sure that you can enjoy it peacefully without overstimulating distractions.
If you want to make the most of the calming corner, you’ll need to include some activities that will help your child understand how to identify and deal with strong emotions.
A reflection chart can be a perfect choice. Depending on your child’s age and reading skills, the chart can use pictures only, illustrations, number scales, or text.
Ask your child to tell you why they went to the calming corner. Help them identify the negative emotion they experienced and how they dealt with it. Let them tell you what they did wrong if they had a bad reaction, and ask them what they can do differently next time they feel this way.
Make this a learning opportunity for both you and your child. Your kid will learn more about the variety of big emotions they can experience and the consequences of their reactions to these emotions, and you can learn more about your child’s stressors and thought processes.
How to Create the Best Calming Corner for Your Child
Every calming corner should be designed for the specific child that’ll use it. Since all children have different stressors, interests, and preferences, you’ll want to talk to your child about what they like and what makes them feel at peace.
If more than one child will be using the same space, it would be a good idea for each child to have their own spot in the calming corner, and their own toys and activities.
Find a calm Designated Space
A calming corner should be free of any outside distractions. Find a quiet place in your home where there isn’t much activity. Avoid placing the camping corner directly under bright lights, close to the computer and TV, or close to strong smells that could be coming from the kitchen or trash cans.
If possible, separate the space by creating a blanket fort, or better yet, get a cheap indoor tent that feels cozy and soothing.
Decorate the Calming Corner
You’ll want your child to feel comfortable in the calming corner, so first of all – put some furniture there. A comfortable armchair can be a good choice, or you can make it more interesting by placing a soft sleeping bag.
Don’t use bright lights in this space as they can be overstimulating. Opt for soft string lights and lamps, electric candles, and glow-in-the-dark stars.
Decorate the space with posters, pictures, plush carpets, and cozy blankets. Talk with your child to see which decorations they’d like, but avoid overstuffing the place with many unnecessary items that will just create a cluster. Calm and peaceful are what you’re going for.
Include Calming Tools and Activities
You don’t want to make this a playroom, but you still want to include a few items that your child will enjoy using here as they’re trying to calm down. Oversized stuffed toys can be very soothing to a small child but focus on more educational and calming activities.
As mentioned, kaleidoscopes, slimes, kinetic sand, drawing boards, and the like are typically the best choice.
Introduce Your Child to the Calming Corner in Advance
If you want the best calming corner that truly helps your child deal with their negative emotions, you’ll need to introduce the kid to the space before a meltdown occurs.
Take your child to the calming corner when they’re feeling relaxed, spend time with them there, and explain what the space will be used for and how. The more often you go there with your child when they’re calm, the easier it will be for them to go there to control their emotions when they’re feeling upset.
Calming corners can be an excellent way to help your child reach better emotional maturity. As long as you don’t use them as punishments and time-outs, both you and your child will enjoy all the benefits that they bring.