Calm Down Corner
How to self-regulate one's emotions is a learned skill. We all have our ways that we know help us calm down when we feel big emotions, and it's our job to help our little ones learn how to self-regulate their emotions.
Insert, the calm down corner.
What is a calm down corner?
A calm down corner is a designated place in your home where your child can go to take a break and calm down. Going to this corner is not a punishment. It's a place with tools to help them calm down. I've seen corners where you have to stay for a specific amount of time, but I let my kids leave the calm down corner when they are calm and when they feel ready.
When should your kids go to the calm down corner?
The "ideal" goal is to get your child to go to the corner BEFORE a meltdown. Obviously that doesn't always happen, but if you sense a tantrum or meltdown coming on (you know what triggers them), that's the best time to send them to the calm down corner. In many cases (especially when starting out), you will send them after they've started a meltdown/tantrum/argument with sibling/etc.
I give my kids the option to go to the calm down corner on their own at any time. If they feel that they need a break at any point during the day, the corner is open and available to them. Since we don't use this corner as a punishment (because it's not), my kids will take it upon themselves to go to the corner at times. This is all part of the process of them learning when and how to use tools to help them regulate their emotions.
Where is the calm down corner and what's there?
Find a place in your home that's centrally located. Ours is located in a corner of our playroom. Make this a calm and cozy place. We have a big reading pillow, a weighted blanket, a few stuffed animals, and a bin of "calm down tools."
This bin consists of 3-5 "tools" that I know might help my children calm down.
The tools you choose should be ones that you think will benefit your child. You can change these out when needed, but it's better to not have too many choices at once.
We currently have a small jar of playdough, a notepad with crayons, a sensory jar (a plastic water bottle filled with water/clear glue/glitter and glued shut), and a small assortment of social-emotional books.
Other ideas: fidget toys, printable signs with calm down strategies, puzzles, music
Example of Using the Calm Down Corner
I'm holding a jacket for my daughter to put on before we go outside. I tell her after she puts her jacket on we can go out. My three year old daughter hits the jacket to the floor and begins screaming and crying that she doesn't want that jacket. I kneel down and tell her that hands are not for hitting and to go to the calm down corner until she calms down. After she's calm, she returns to me and says she doesn't like that jacket. I ask her, "If you want a different jacket, what could you do?" She then calmly says, "Can I go get my pink jacket?" Had I tried to reason with my daughter during her meltdown, it would have gotten nowhere and the whole ordeal would have lasted much longer.
Self regulation is one of the many things under the umbrella term of character education.
Character education is something I am so extremely passionate about and have been since before I was even a teacher!
What is character education?
"Character education is a learning process that enables students and adults in a school community to understand, care about and act on core ethical values such as respect, justice, civic virtue and citizenship, and responsibility for self and others. Upon such core values, we form the attitudes and actions that are the hallmark of safe, healthy and informed communities that serve as the foundation of our society." - US Department of Education
In my own simpler terms, it's about helping teach your child or student to regulate their emotions and showing/teaching them how to become a nice human being. It includes social and emotional learning, life skills, conflict resolution, and all those other things that you aren't taught with your regular academics.
Implementing a calm down corner at your home is a simple and effective way to help your child develop into a better human being!
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