One way to help children learn how to self-regulate is by providing them with calm down corners. A calm down corner is a designated space in a classroom or home with the sole intent of being a safe space for a child to go to when they feel their emotions are too high and they need to regain their emotional and physical control. These spaces are equipped with comforting objects and soothing materials that can promote mindfulness, breathing, and reflection.
Being able to calm yourself when emotions run high – or self-regulate – is a learned skill. Similar to how a child is taught to tie their shoe once they have the fine motor skills to do so, once a child’s brain is developmentally ready to self-regulate, they can learn different strategies and ways that work well for them. This is not a “time out” or punishment – there shouldn’t be any stigma associated with the calm down corner. Although you may encourage a child to spend some time in the space when you feel they’re starting to become distressed, the goal is that eventually the child will recognize when they want to be there and will go there on their own in order to self-regulate and calm down.
The overall goal of a calm down corner is to provide the child with a space in which they’ll feel safe and regulating their emotions in a healthy way. These corners don’t need to be complicated and don’t even require purchasing any new materials or items if you do not want to.
Example of an at home calming corner
- Designate a corner in a room in your home as your child’s new calm down corner.
- Fill the space with a soft rug or mat, bean bag chair, or other plush options for sitting or lying down, and with some of your child’s favorite books, stuffed animals or quiet toys.
- If your child is older, you can utilize short bookcases to help block the space out to provide your child with some privacy. Below is a sample of how simple a calming corner can look.