Inside: Why a calm down corner is effective and how to create the perfect calm down corner for your kids. (Great for kids who have ADHD, autism, SPD, ODD, or are simply spirited or emotional)

Have you ever wanted to shut out the entire world and just take a few minutes of complete you time?

Maybe you feel this way every day.

It’s okay.

Well, guess what?

Your kids feel this way too.

But here’s the problem…

…they just don’t know it.

Well, it turns out you can dramatically help your child stay balanced, calm, and avoid over-stimulation by creating a calm down space.

A calm down corner is a safe space for angry, upset, frazzled, and/or overstimulated children to go to calm down.

And in today’s post, I’m going to show you exactly how to create your own calm down corner.

Calm Down Corner For Kids

What is a Calm Down Corner?

A calm down corner is a place for kids to do just what it says — calm down. Pause and reset. Kids can go to this safe space, pick a non-stimulatory activity and bring their excitement levels back down to normal. (Green zone). It’s a safe and positive place, free of blame, pain, or shame.

Toddlers (and preschoolers) often have little or next to no emotional regulation.

This means:

WE need to monitor their stimulation levels.

Kids are a bit like a kettle. They get warm, then hotter, then start bubbling, and then all chaos breaks loose, and the whistling top blows off.

My strong-willed child feels everything VERY intensely. It was disheartening when there was absolutely nothing I can do to help him regain control once he spiralled into his emotional abyss.

That’s why I created a calm down corner for him. It blocks out stimulation, noise, and, most of all, me trying to control his behavior.

It’s been HUGE for us.

I call it a cozy corner, but it’s also referred to as a Quiet Corner, Calm Down Space, Sensory Tent, or Cool Down Spot.

Calm down corners are especially helpful for kids who have autism, ADHD, sensory processing disorder, and kids who are spirited

Invite your child or student into a warming calming corner space or create an engaging calm-down binder. These beautiful resources teach angry, overstimulated, overwhelmed, or upset children emotional awareness, and provide useful calm down strategies to help them navigate these difficult feelings.

cALM dOWN CORNER


What Are The Benefits of a calm down corner?

There are SO many benefits of a calm down corner. Here’s just a few:

  • Teaches emotional regulation
  • Gives children self awareness and self management (helps kids practice identifying feelings and practicing calm down strategies)
  • Helps control impulsive behavior
  • Allows kids to feel okay with their big emotions
  • Adds structure and consistency
  • Promotes self-esteem
  • Helps prevent meltdowns
  • Helps kids develop stronger communication skills

A calm down corner can be used instead of time-outs.

Without venturing into the effectiveness of time-outs debate — if time-outs don’t work for your child, try this instead.

Often when kids are misbehaving it’s because they are overstimulated. Going to this space is not a punishment, it’s an effective tool to help your child curb this behavior.

Your child can learn that there are different ways of acting.

It’s not a punishment — it’s actually a happy place.

A calm down corner is also an extremely effective place for angry or upset children to go.

Let me explain:

When kids are upset or angry you’d have better luck talking to the wind.

You won’t get any results.

In fact:

When kids are angry, talking sometimes makes matters worse.

It adds agitation and even more stimulation to an already out of control child.

Sometimes, as much as I want to talk lessons into my son, I need to zip it and calmly walk him in silence to his calm down corner, and then —

LEAVE HIM BE.

Kids can then take the time they need, calm down, and rejoin the family (or classroom) when they are ready.

Note:  It’s better to encourage our child or student to go to their calm down corner before they erupt into a tantrum or offsetting behavior.

If it’s too late, you might need to employ whatever strategy you have in place to get your child out of the red zone, and then guide him or her to their corner.

How do you use A calm down corner?

Example of How to Use Your Calm Down Corner

When my child erupts, I get down on his level, look him in the eye and say quietly but firmly: “You are not allowed to hit mommy.” (Or whatever behavior occurred).

I then walk/or carry him to his calming space.

From there you can follow these steps:

  1. Do a feelings check.
  2. Use a calming strategy.
  3. If calm, return to activity
  4. If not calmuse the same strategy or another strategy.
  5. Do a feelings check.
  6. Return when calm or with adult support.

At this point, if your child is receptive you can talk about what happened.

I’ve spent days where we are in a continuous cycle of correcting behavior this way. But in time, I see big results from this technique.

A great way to begin the discussion is to use a calm down corner kit which you can learn more about here.

Your child can point to what they did wrong and point to the emotion that they were feeling. The next poster gives some useful suggestions for how to calm down, and also suggestions for how they can better handle the situation next time.

For example:

• Asking for help
• Taking ten deep breaths
• Knowing when to take a break

And the best part:

You haven’t yelled — you don’t feel guilty — and your child has started to learn life-long valuable skills of logical thinking instead of emotional reaction.

Hooray.

Invite your child or student into a warming calming corner space or create an engaging calm-down binder. These beautiful resources teach angry, overstimulated, overwhelmed, or upset children emotional awareness, and provide useful calm down strategies to help them navigate these difficult feelings.

Calm Down Corner

Picking the Space for Your Peace Corner

You could carve out a corner in a play room, in their bedroom, in the stairwell cubby, or in a corner.

Anywhere really.

The most important thing is that the child will be away from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the family.

My calm down corner is in the landing in the basement.

I have a bench with my calm down posters, baskets with coloring utensils, some fidget toys (these tangle ones are my favorite) and books.

Of course, I’ve put one of my son’s favorite teddy’s there, and our mindful kid’s cards game.

I’ll get to more of what to include in your space below.

But know that it’s important to make this space safe.


Consider the wall colors. Beige’s and neutral colors are calming. Reds and oranges can invoke more anxiety or anger.

A Calm Down Corner will help you teach your kids strategies to calm down when they are upset, angry, or agitated. It includes detailed instructions on how to create a calm down corner, calm down printables, calm down cards and a mindfulness kids eBook. Begin to teach your kids these life savings skills with our calm down kit for kids now!

When to use a Calm down Corner

• During a tantrum
• When a child is aggressive
• When a child is fighting with siblings
• When a child is in the silly zone
• When your child is overstimulated, angry or frustrated.
• When a child isn’t listening
• When a child needs a screen time break

If your child isn’t having a meltdown or anger outburst, but you can see them getting overwhelmed or excitable — a great idea is to invite them into the space (before they lose control).

Ask them if they want to blow bubbles, color a picture, or read a book.

What’s the bottom line?

A calm down corner isn’t solely about reacting to bad behavior.

Calm Down Corner Printables

What to Put in a Calming Corner?

Everyone’s corner will look a little different depending on their child’s interest.

But basically:

Soft and Cuddly

Make it soft and cuddly. Build the foundation of your corner with soft and weighted items. Layer the floor with blankets and pillows.

I like these cute pillows:

Consider a bean bag chair or a play tent.

I really like this bean bag chair that you can lay down in, or this one is cute for a little boy.

And one of my favorite kids decorating items is a kids tent! Kids love tents and it looks cool too.

Don’t forget to include your child’s favorite stuffy.

Sights:

Visual sights might include a soft glow lamp, hung lights, heck, why not this awesome jelly fish lamp.

A kaleidoscope perhaps? 

These are just some ideas — you can fill your corner with absolutely anything you like. Use your imagination.

Sensory Activities:

Many children are soothed by sensory activities. We have what we call our angry shaker. I went to the dollar store bought a tube style container, put beads in it and my son shakes it when he’s angry.

You could add sand, slime, or beads to your corner.

Perhaps your child would like to rip construction paper to take out their anger. Or color really hard.

Smells

An oil diffuser is a great idea! Essential oils are amazing for calming and relaxing the nervous system. I recommend lavender.

Calming Activities

I made one of the calm-down glitter jars that are all over Pinterest. Fun!

Putting a snow globe in your space is also a great idea. In our kid’s mindfulness printable Mighty Mindful Kids, we have a specific snow globe exercise for you to try (along with 40 other calming activities).

Breathing cards are another great way to calm an upset child. Mighty Mindful Kids also has a number of beginner breathing exercises. We also have an epic post here on 10 of the best breathing exercises for kids.

The goal is to shift the mindset from being upset to well — anything else really.

Certain activities bring your child into the present moment. That’s why teaching your kids mindfulness is very important and you can read here just WHY it is SO important.

Think breathing, counting, playing eye spy.

And mindfulness teaches kids that they don’t have to be controlled by their emotions any longer.

Engaging Activities:

Consider a board game and also paper and markers for drawing or scribbling. Your child may like small stuffed animals, a coloring book, or toy cars.

Fidget toys:

Squishy balls, water wiggles, fidget spinners, stress balls.

If you’d like to make your own squishy stress balls, check out this guide.

Sounds

Noise-reducing headphones to block out sounds that are overwhelming. Headphones are deep pressure and calming in themselves.

And soft, mellow music is a great idea.

Calm Down Cards

Calm down cards are a great tool to give kids ideas and strategies to calm down themselves.

Check out these calm down cards and this calm down kit here.

I put these cards in a basket (there are 40 to choose from). When I notice my son is becoming agitated or entering the dreaded red zone, I suggest we pick three cards from the basket.

The rule is that we must do whatever the card says.

They are quick, calm down solutions, but work brilliantly.

Jog on the spot for one minute, walk like a dog across the floor, breathe like a bear. The exercises are fun and quickly distract your child from whatever big emotion is brewing.

After we are done with our three exercises, I then guide my son to his calm down corner for a sensory break.

Here’s another example of how I use the cards:

My son has sensory issues, and when we are putting on our snow gear (cringe), we often run into trouble.

He starts ramping up. And if you have a child that has sensory issues, you will know EXACTLY what I mean.

First, his socks don’t feel right, then his pants aren’t the right length, his shirt sleeves went too far up his coat.

It snowballs and snowballs until everything is wrong, and a meltdown follows.

Well, at the first sign of this fussing — it’s calm down card time before the meltdown hits.

I distract him from everything that feels wrong with his pants and socks. Sometimes this distraction is enough to allow us to carry on without a meltdown.

Sometimes, I won’t lie; it’s only a temporary distraction, and the meltdown is not avoidable.

But, the bottom line?

Much of the time, it works.

Print this set (I use card stock paper), laminate them if you can, and shuffle through the 40 cards. It’s fun and kid-tested to help them cool off.

The best part?

After consistently using these cards, kids will begin to employ these techniques on their own: habit building, skill-building, repetition.

If your kiddo struggles with transitions, you’ll love reading about our 12 brilliant tips to ease transition troubles.

The Best Calm Down Corner Posters for Your Calming Space

I’ll point you towards three different options (at three different price points) for visuals and posters you can add to your space.

I love ALL of these calm down posters. The first set is a digital small letter size set of 4, inexpensive. Kids point to their emotional state and then decide how they could better handle the situation. The second set is my favorite. The design and function of this set are truly amazing. It comes complete with My Feelings Posters, Strategies, Breathing Boards, and more. And finally, the third set is a calming corner lap book. You can print this tape it to a binder or folder and use it anywhere!

1. Calm Down Posters – Set of 4

The first set includes 2 sets of 5 calm down printables (different designs) that you can print out on letter-size paper and place in your corner. You hang this set on the wall as I did, or you can simply use them as worksheets on the table. This set is great if you don’t have a lot of room and/or don’t want to spend a lot of money.

Choose from two separate (and gorgeous) designs for your calm down corner, space, or binder. Create a safe space for kids, free from pain, shame, and blame.

Calm down corner printables

2. Mindfulmazing’s Chill Out Hideout Toolkit

The next set is a much more comprehensive kit.

It provides many emotional regulation activities for kids and includes some fun posters (with different size options).

There is also a comprehensive guide and even cutouts for your my feelings check-in.

For price and usefulness, this is my best A+ recommendation.

A calm down corner, room, binder, or space is a place for angry, overstimulated, or upset children to calm down.  It’s free from blame, shame, and pain. This GIANT calming bundle includes OVER 20 worksheets, posters, and interactive charts which will help you set up an inviting calming space or binder for kids, whether at home or in the classroom.

3. Calm Down Lap Book

I truly love this final set. It’s a calming corner lap book. This means you print the 4 pages out, tape or put them in a binder, and your child can use them anywhere.

Think in the car, in their room, at the table.

I love it!

Calming Lap Book

Snag this perfect tool for home or classroom management with our newest calming lap book. This kit will integrate perfectly with your calm down corner or will work perfectly as a stand-alone resource.

Calming lap book

What next? When they are calm.

Now it’s time for the lesson.

First: If your child has had a meltdown, don’t make them feel shame.

They are likely to upset already.

Young kids, kids on the spectrum, kids with ADHD, and kids with sensory processing disorder often struggle with emotional regulation. And it’s our job to help them learn the skills to handle the situation better, not make them feel shameful.

However, we do need to be firm that certain behaviors aren’t acceptable.

I start with our calm down posters, and my son points to how he was feeling. We move on to whatever action arose from that feeling. Finally, we discuss how he could have handled the situation differently.

We often role-play the scene back, and this means each taking turns to be the angry child, teach them how to notice signs of anger, and how to react differently.

This is when you let your kids know that their behavior wasn’t acceptable, why it wasn’t acceptable, and teach the skills they need to do better the next time such a situation arises.

These are skills that take a while to learn, so understand young brains are still growing and developing, young kids are unable to control their emotions. With time and practice, you begin to notice a big difference.

cALM dOWN CORNER

Common questions:

My child is in a rage! She won’t use the calm down corner.

Like I said above, if your child has erupted into full blown meltdown, you might need to use whatever strategy works to diffuse your child back down to a level lower. They can calm slightly, and then calm the rest of the way down in their safe space.

Wait, Isn’t This a Reward for Bad Behavior?

Now:

Sometimes when I’m overwhelmed I need to hide in my closet for a few minutes so I don’t explode. This is a coping skill for a normal and acceptable human emotion.

We are actually teaching our kids coping skills. They are not always mature enough to be calm and reasonable, and toddlers often can’t do it.

Period.

Their brains are growing and learning and they need to be taught effective coping strategies. Not always punished for things out of their control.

As much as you might think they are, kids aren’t trying to drive you crazy, test your limits or demand control, they don’t have bad intentions, and they just want to be loved.

Some kids are lacking in the skills for coping. They need our help, guidance and most of all love.

Love will never drive bad behavior. I have an emotionally charged/anxious child, so I am familiar with how difficult it can be to help him regulate his body, mind, and emotions.

If you have a child like mine, you will understand that we can’t punish them for their struggles. He needs help. I’m helping him.

And that’s where my calm down corner enters the picture.

My son can sneak off to his own space, rejuvenate, refocus, wind down. But most of all we are learning how to process difficult emotions.

I truly hope you have great success with your own calm down corner.

I hope you love these idea’s for your calming space. I’d love to see any pictures of your child’s space below or hear any ideas or comments.

Final Thoughts on Calm Corner Ideas

A few key takeaways on using your calm down corner:

This is a summary from the social/emotional website which I love:

  1. Do a feelings check.
  2. Use a calming strategy.
  3. If calm, return to activity
  4. If not calmuse the same strategy or another strategy.
  5. Do a feelings check.
  6. Return when calm or with adult support.

A calm down corner is such a positive and incredible tool to home or classroom. It provides a safe (and fun) space for kids to take a good look at their behaviour and improve their self regulation.

I’m so excited for you to get started, and I’d love to see some pictures of your calming space below.

Don’t forget to snag your calm down corner printables today!

A calm down corner, room, or binder is a space for angry, overstimulated, or upset kids to go to calm down. It’s free from blame, shame, and pain. This GIANT calming bundle includes OVER 20 worksheets, posters, and interactive charts which will help you set up an inviting calming space or binder for kids, whether at home or in the classroom.

Calming corner for kids


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