Instead of putting your child in “Time Out,” try creating a Calm Down Space for them. My daughter has ADHD and as many of you parents of special needs children know, our children have a lot of feelings, which can result in a lot of emotional meltdowns. Even if your child doesn’t have special needs, having a calming and comfortable place for them to go to when they are feeling overwhelmed or frustrated is a very good idea.
Where should the Calm Down Space be?
Decide with your child where their Calm Down Space will be located. Some children like to be alone and away from other people and noise while other children like to be somewhat close to others and can still hear some noise. Wherever it is, make sure it is in a safe place where you can easily get access to them.
What do I put in the Calm Down Space?
Fill the space with something comfortable for your child to sit and/or lay down. A child-sized pull-out couch works great for this purpose and a lot of them have cartoon characters featured on them. Other options are a bean bag chair or even a large pillow. Add some of your child’s favorite stuffed animals/characters to keep him or her company too. As I mentioned in the video, my daughter’s favorite movie is Inside Out, so I used that to my advantage and provided her with the talking Joy and Sadness dolls. I like them a lot, because they say quotes from the movie that provide a positive spin on things.
As you know, meltdowns come with tears, so make sure there is a box of tissues nearby or else you are going to have a pretty nasty snot-smeared shirt to wash afterwards.
The most important item in the Calm Down Space is the Toolbox, which is filled with calming aids to help soothe your child and clear their head.
- My daughter uses drawing as her outlet, so that is why I provided her with a sketchpad and crayons. Other children might find looking at a picture book or doing a puzzle calming. Whatever it is, put it in their toolbox.
- Another big item to put in their toolbox is a list of their good qualities. When your child is in a good mood, set some time aside to help them make a list of all of their good qualities. Later when your child might be experiencing low self-esteem or feeling bad about themselves, have them refer to this list to remind them just how special they are.
- Another item to include in the toolbox is a calm down jar. They are fun to make, look at, and the best part is that it really works! (For instructions on how to make this particular calm down jar, click here.)
- The last item in the Toolbox is a set of book to help your child get through this difficult time. As mentioned in the video, some children are still learning how to identify what emotion they are feeling, so some fun children’s books can help with that. The set mentioned in the video is a Disney’s Inside Out Box Set of Mixed Emotions. (For a list of other helpful books for children with special needs, please read 10 Great Books For Children With ADHD.)
What will YOU put in your child’s Calm Down Space?