Create a Calming Corner for Your Kids Today!
Updated: Oct 22, 2019
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I recently participated in an online parenting course, and one of the modules discussed time-outs. I had some knowledge of the debate over whether time-outs were an effective discipline method for kids, but admittedly did not know all the details.
Time-outs were a popular tool introduced in the 1950s to manage behavior. This practice was based on the assumption that the behavior was attention-seeking and if the child was removed from the activity, at least temporarily, the behavior would be extinguished. Time-outs were partially created as an alternative to spanking and other corporal punishment, so at the time it was definitely a step in the right direction.
Fast forward to the past 5 years or so. Child behavior experts are now saying that time-outs administered inappropriately may actually contribute to making kids angrier and are not an effective strategy for managing behavior. Furthermore, simply sending your child to their room or a chair or the step without explanation can result in children feeling isolated, rejected, and shamed.
So what are your options? Well, the first thing you need to do is consider that all behavior has a purpose. When our children are acting out it's because they have something to communicate to us, but they don't know how. It is our job as parents not to always jump in and fix it, or to punish them for their inappropriate reactions to big emotions, but to coach them through life's challenges.
This is where our calm down corner comes in. I use a calm down corner at the Play to Grow studio and I created one at home for my son. This is a quiet, somewhat removed space where your child can go when they are feeling big emotions. The key difference between a Calming Corner and time-out is that we are going to use this space to calm, connect, and coach.
How to Create A Calming Corner In Your Home or Classroom
The first thing you'll want to do is decide on an out of the way spot where your child can go when they need a minute to calm themselves. This space should be out of the way so it can remain quiet and uncluttered.
Provide some sort of comfortable place for them to sit. At our house, my son has a small play table with 2 chairs in his calming corner. At the Play to Grow studio I've included two of these beanbag chairs. You could go with some floor cushions, a fun rug, or a cozy blanket. It's totally up to you!
Stock up on calming items for your child. These DON'T need to be expensive! You can get items your child will love from around the house and places like the dollar store or Five Below. We include a pinwheel, bubbles, a mind jar, some coloring pages and crayons, and family photos in ours. Other ideas are jigsaw puzzles, word finds, hidden pictures, or yoga cards. Just gather whatever items resonate with your child and place them in a small basket in your Calming Corner.
Finally, get our FREE Calming Corner below. It includes a Calming Corner sign, a R.A.I.N. chart for guiding you and your child through navigating BIG emotions, a Know Your Emojis poster for identifying feelings, a customizable "What's in my toolbox?" poster activity, and a positive affirmation poster.
Connecting and Coaching
Now remember, to be an effective tool, your child needs to know that they are 1) not going to be isolated in their calming corner and 2) are going to have the support of a loving coach. Spend time teaching your child about the Calming Corner and the tools available there BEFORE meltdowns occur. We cannot wait for our child to be in tantrum mode and then try to educate them on identifying their emotions or taking deep breaths. We must make a point to connect with our child daily, talk about our feelings, and help them learn the tools that work best for them. Then, when big emotions hit, we can gently guide them to previously practiced strategies.
Good luck! If you set up a calming corner in your home or classroom, post a picture in the comments section! We'd love to hear how it's working for you!