Anyone out there have perfect emotionally balanced children? I’m definitely not raising my hand to that one. In fact, we have nicknamed my daughter’s alter ego as “the hulk” because, while she’s normally such a docile sweet child, you better watch out when something gets to her. When she gets angry, you can hear the stomping and huffing from the other side of the house. Given my human service field, I’ve always talked to my girls about their emotions. Even so, my little hulk really struggled with controlling herself when she became escalated. There came a day when she actually asked if we could create a calming corner for her to fight off her anger. I was all for it because it would be a great way to help her learn the important skill of self-regulation.
Calming Corner Benefits
Self-Awareness and Self-Management: Calm down corners help children to practice identifying feelings and emotions to better manage stress, self-regulate and control their impulses. Having a space designed to support them emotionally and physically helps them feel safe and comfortable, allowing them to let down their guard to process different feelings.
Relationship Skills: Learning how to communicate one’s feelings and emotions can be difficult, but calming spaces such as this help children practice mindfulness and develop skills they need to identify their emotions and communicate them when necessary. Stronger communication skills help them form stronger relationships with others and develop skills in empathy.Action for Healthy Kids
Calming Corner Seating Choice
First things first, seating. You could obviously choose a regular chair if that’s what you have on hand. I think a calming corner needs something soft and cushioning. I opted to knock out three birds with this one stone. We had stuffed animals galore and were running out of space, so it was a perfect time to use a Pinterest pin I’d saved long ago. I used Googie Momma’s via Thread Riding Hood pattern for a stuffed animal chair. I’m a true lover of budget-friendly projects, so I chose to use material from some curtains I’d made for our previous house. (This is exactly why I find it so hard to get rid of anything, you never know when you might come up with a way to repurpose it.)
I was able to dive into my creative mental space (check out Crafting my Mental Health Regimen), make a stuffed animal storage space saver, and a chair for the calming corner all in one go! I couldn’t believe how many stuffed animals this chair housed. Such a win!
Other DIY Options
Here are some other easy DIY Bean bag chairs to try:
DIY: Sew a Kids Bean Bag Chair in 30 Minutes
DIY Bean Bag Chair
Child Size Bean Bag Chair -DIY Video Tutorial
Curtain to Limit Stimulation
I happened to have a bed curtain, so I used it as the curtain for this space. I considered making one (of course), but my daughter said she liked this see-through one.
There are other ways to make a private space. Here’s one from She Builds Her Home using a curved shower curtain rod.
Stocking Your Calming Corner
A calming corner isn’t much of a space with out something to distract them from the emotional overload. Thankfully, with all the recent trends, we had a good stock of fidgets, squishies, spinners, etc. to stock her little shelf of distractions. She also put a whiteboard and marker for drawing. Check out Mindful Amazing for some great printables to stock in the calming corner. A weighted blanket or weighted stuffed animal would be a great add as well. How about some simple craft kits?!
We didn’t go much beyond that but depending on the child, you might consider all the other senses. Noise-canceling headphones or a soothing sound machine for the child who tends to overload on auditory stimulation. A visual distraction, like a light machine or glitter bottle, would be another great option. For olfactory, an oil diffuser or scented lotions would work. There are really so many possibilities. To garner buy-in from a resistant child, let them decide what to put there.
Creating the calming corner together doesn’t mean they are automatically going to choose to go there when it becomes necessary, so be prepared to reinforce using it when needed. My hulk was super resistant when using the corner was necessary. Take one tantrum at a time to stay sane.
For more resources on self-regulation, check out Child Mind Institute’s “How Can We Help Kids with Self-Regulation?“