calming corner

Create a Calming Corner: Tools to help kids regulate their emotions

A calming corner can help kids process big emotions.

As parents and caregivers, it’s our responsibility to provide a safe space for our children to navigate their emotions, whether they’re feeling anxious, angry, or overwhelmed. One innovative approach to helping kids express and manage their feelings is the concept of “calming corners” or “calm kits.”

Clinical Social Worker Ginger Healy shares how these spaces are equipped with various tools and techniques to help children self-regulate and find comfort during moments of distress.

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How to Create a Calming Corner

A calming corner isn’t just a physical space; it’s about creating emotional safety. It’s a place where children can express their emotions without fear of judgment or punishment. It’s also where they can learn to regulate their feelings with the guidance of a compassionate adult.

Tools for Your Calming Corner & Calming Kit

Here are some essential tools and techniques that can be included in a calming corner:

  1. Tactile Sensory Items: Provide various textures like kinetic sand, Play-Doh, lotion with pleasant scents, or anything that engages the sense of touch. These items help children ground themselves in the present moment.
  2. Mindfulness Tools: Items like pinwheels, bubbles, or simple breathing exercises encourage deep and intentional breathing. These tools promote relaxation and help release stress hormones.
  3. Movement Promoters: Incorporate tools that encourage physical activity, such as chair bands for fidgeting, a mini trampoline, a swing, or even a quick walk outside. Movement helps expel stress hormones and refreshes the mind.
  4. Hydration and Nutrition: Sometimes, dysregulation is linked to basic needs like thirst or hunger. Offer a healthy snack or a sip of water if needed.

The Role of a Calm Adult

The most critical element in any calming corner is the presence of a calm, attuned adult. This adult doesn’t try to take away the child’s feelings but instead co-regulates by providing consistent, compassionate caregiving. The adult’s role is to reassure the child that their emotions are valid and that they’re not alone in their struggles.

A calming corner is not a time-out zone, but a “time-in” space where the child and the adult work together to process and manage emotions. It fosters emotional resilience, normalizes big feelings, and strengthens the child’s emotional well-being.

By incorporating a calming corner into your home or caregiving routine, you can equip your child with valuable emotional regulation tools they can carry with them throughout life. It’s a proactive way to help them navigate the ups and downs of growing up and learning to manage their emotions effectively.

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