Calm Corners are a great way to help children learn emotional regulation skills. The ability to self regulate is a key element of emotional intelligence and an important life skill. Traditional parenting approaches don't tend to teach emotional regulation skills explicitly, but research shows that directing our children to specific calming strategies and providing space for mindfulness helps nurture resilient kids.
The ability to regulate emotions isn't something that happens overnight. The area of the brain responsible for reason and logic isn't fully developed until early adulthood. However, children should learn about feelings, their emotional triggers and how to soothe themselves to lay the foundations for an emotionally healthy life. Plus, I'm always amazed at how easily children embrace calming strategies ... even when their thinking brains are still maturing!
Calm Corners provide the space, environment and resources that support emotional regulation. By designating an area for calming down, children can remove themselves from their emotional trigger and process their feelings.
There are several important ingredients for a calm corner:
1. Something that helps children identify what they are feeling.
This could take the form of a Feelings Check In sheet, Feelings Cards or a Feelings Print. Naming a feeling is known to calm a nervous system that is in a stress response.
2. Calming Strategy Visual Prompts
Children need easy to access calming strategies to support their emotional development and regulation skills. This is something children need to be explicitly shown and taught! A strategy poster, cards or other visual prompts such as the posters in our natural, mindful yoga themed Calm Down Corner Kit are or the cards in our Calming Strategy Kit are perfect for teaching children the ways to find calm. I'd suggest having conversations around these strategies too, asking your child what they noticed about the way they felt in their bodies, which will help their brains make links between the strategies and feeling calmer, making it more likely they will use them in the future!
3. Resources that support emotional regulation
A toolbox of resources to support regulation and self soothing are great additions to Calm Down Corners. I'd recommend sensory/fidget toys, glitter bottles, puzzles (non frustrating ones!), reading books, cuddly teddy, and a favourite blanket. Most of these items will use the senses and provide the sensory input that helps the nervous system feel safe and therefore calm.
4. Mindfulness Tools
Set up your Calm Corner with some tools that will provide your child an opportunity for mindful moments that help them reflect on and process their feelings. These tools could include colouring pages, pens and paper for drawing or writing, tracing pages, breathing technique prompts or journal pages. Our Calm Down Corner Kit provides these opportunities through printable sheets that you can instantly download here.
Where should I locate my Calm Down Corner?
As a former primary school teacher, I know the important that the environment has on children's ability to learn and access their thinking. The location of your Calm Down Corner is important for this reason too. Choose an area of your home that is quiet and calm. Somewhere that, ideally, isn't too busy or overwhelming in terms of household clutter or family traffic! I love to use bean bags, cushions and soft blankets in our Calm Corner. I've also created a den in the past to house our Calm Corner as it lent itself to my child's interest at the time.
Why should I have a Calm Down Corner?
A designated space gives your child a clear action to take when they feel overwhelmed by big feelings such as anger, frustration or worry. By creating a space for them, you can also provide them with accessible prompts that can help them calm their feelings, educating them with life long skills and also structuring their response to their feelings without you having to be right next to them. Sometimes children need the space/distance a calm down corner provides before they are ready and able to have a reasonable discussion with you. Calm Corners can also help children feel safe when big feelings overwhelm them, soothing their emotional brain and helping them find calm.
Did you know ... ?
If your child is a little Space Enthusiast, we've created My Chill Out SPACE - A Space Themed Calm Corner Kit! Why not get really creative and set up a 'rocket corner' filled with the resources in this printable kit! Using your child's interests will help motivate them to use and engage with the space that you create.
Let us know if you've got any questions about creating a Calm Corner by commenting below!
Hey! I'm the founder, creator and voice of Ink and Scribbles. Sharing thoughts on child well-being and parenting that are based on my teaching and parenting experience, and NLP learning.