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Breeyn Mack
April 9, 2020

Helping Children Create a Calm-Down Place


Taking a deep breath, counting to 10, closing our eyes… all of these are tried-and-true strategies for calming our bodies when emotions feel too big. When children experience strong emotions such as fear, sadness, or a sense of being overwhelmed, it is important to help them manage those feelings and use calm-down strategies when necessary.

Even on the most routine of days, it is certainly appropriate to need to use calm-down strategies. But now, with so many families experiencing a day-to-day reality that has been flipped on its head, it is likely that strong emotions are even more present in your home—for your child and for you!

Practice Together

It’s a good idea to practice calm-down strategies regularly with young children and to do so when they are not currently experiencing strong emotions. When you invite your child to join you in taking a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth while playing in the bathtub or cuddled up to read a story together, you are helping your child be able to readily access this strategy when they are feeling overwhelmed, angry, or frustrated.

Even more impactful in the long run than helping children learn how to manage strong feelings is helping them recognize when they are starting to feel overwhelmed or frustrated and that they can take some time to calm their bodies down and feel more comfortable.

A Cozy Corner

Consider creating a calm-down place in your home that gives your child a special area to process their feelings, relax, and take a break. It doesn’t need to be elaborate. You can actually invite your child to help you set it up—a cozy corner somewhere with a couple pillows, a soft blanket, a few books, and maybe a stuffed animal or two.

It’s important that this area never be used for something punitive like a “time-out” or a consequence, as that will defeat its purpose of being a place to practice calm-down skills. Instead, you’ll want to celebrate it as a special spot your child can choose to go to when they want to cool off, relax, or take a break.

You know your child best. After they’ve had a few moments in the calm-down place, see if they’d like you to sit and chat with them about what they’re feeling. It can be really frustrating, for example, when a younger sibling keeps knocking down their block tower or feel overwhelmingly sad to be away from friends and teachers at school. A conversation after a child has had a few moments to calm their body down is generally far more productive, accurate, and meaningful.

Adults Need a Calm Space Too 

Lastly, for many parents and caregivers, the day-to-day dynamic at home looks really different right now and you are juggling A LOT! It’s important to recognize that you yourself may need to leverage some of these strategies. Don’t feel like you need to hide your feelings. When you model for your child that you, too, sometimes feel overwhelmed and can calm your body and mind by taking deep breaths or sitting quietly in your favorite chair looking at a magazine, you are teaching them that their feelings are also okay and that learning to manage those feelings is important work that even adults need to practice from time to time.


 

Looking for additional resources to help support families during this time? Check out our new Classroom Connect page for Weekly Guided Learning Plans to support families with daily routines, study explorations and more. 



  1. Never say “ time out” use terms as “ cozy corner “ or “ quiet area” or “ the calm zone” make sure child is comfortable and safe while in the area

    1. Absolutely! We want children to always view this spot as a place of comfort, peace, and where they can find positivity.

  2. ¡Absolutamente! Queremos que los niños vean, esto como una disponibilidad de aprendizaje y estrategia para ejecutar en familia, vean este lugar como un lugar de paz, cogedor, seguro y sobre todo que se proyecte amor en el aprendizaje.

  3. I think a cozy place is a good idea. It can be set up away from ongoing traffic in the home to allowing child/ren to be able to think better.

    1. Love this idea and feedback, Theresa! We would agree that a slower trafficked spot would be best to keep the corner cozy and peaceful!

  4. Loved this blog! With all of the changes lately routine and consistency have been a challenge. We are all feeling the pressure and frustration while missing all of our friends and everything else in life that we are so used to having on a daily basis. This blog has given me a new tool to add to my tool kit for the few children still in school. It is time to re-visit the healthy way to manage emotions conversation in the classroom. And come up with practical ways to support the students with their help and ideas incorporated so that the space is meaningful to them.

    1. Hi Heather, we’re so glad you enjoyed this blog post and strategy. Thank you for sharing your feedback with us, and we completely agree that everyone, including our littlest learners, are feeling big emotions during these unprecedented times.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, Marina! We’re glad you found this to be a helpful strategy. We hope your children enjoy the cozy corner.

  5. Parents should implement more cozy corners for themselves and their children, this will be more helpful, with the connection and spending more quality time,for reading books even looking over flashcards, also just to here relaxing music.

  6. I too, Loved this blog. I never thought of a cozy corner within the home. I think being shut up in the house with their little ones, parents are now beginning to see and appreciate their child’s teachers. Parents have been asking for support when their child(ren) begins to show a bit of frustration. Will definitely share with them

  7. It’s very necessary to practice calm down moments due to the instant change in life. I hope it’s takes serious , it could really be a way to save lives.

  8. All of our Head Start classrooms have quiet areas. These cozy spots offer children a space to relax with a variety of calming materials like a couple stuffed animals, soft blanket, calm-down bottles (those with colored water/oil, glitter, tiny toys), books, fidget toys, etc. This is an excellent idea and routine to carryover into the home where families are now working through strong emotions with their children.
    Thank you for sharing…

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