Time outs in the corner are outdated, punitive, and don't resolve the underlying behavior issues. But time in a calming corner is a wonderful tool. So yes, you CAN put your child in the corner IF the focus is emotional regulation, resetting, and problem-solving together!
What is a calming corner?
A calming corner is an intentional space set up for a child to focus on regulating emotions in safe, healthy ways. Children can't learn, process, or problem-solve while the amygdala is hijacking their thinking. The calming corner is a tool used to regain composure before problem-solving together.
What makes a great calming corner?
The possibilities are endless! And the answer depends on your family and child's needs and preferences.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
The Perfect Location
A calming corner doesn't have to be a corner! Where can you create a safe spot to focus on emotional regulation? Consider the boundaries and how easy it is to help a child utilize the space. It can be a living room corner, a bedroom, a mudroom, or any spot you like! Your family can be creative and find the perfect spot.
What's my favorite location you ask? Closets! No, I'm not talking about Harry's cupboard under the staircase. Clearing out a closet with a light and adding all the fluff of a perfect calming corner can make a cozy, safe nook for children to regulate emotions with no windows to break and an easy opening to maintain space boundaries (see training videos for more on maintaining space boundaries). Leave the door open if helping them, but if they WANT a secluded nook, they can choose to close the door.
What The Fluff!
So I have my corner but what the fluff should I put in it?
Calming corners can be Pinterest elaborate or DIY simple. Don't let yourself be overwhelmed by the possibilities. Find what works best for your child.
Ideas to start with that you likely already have:
~ Lovies/Stuffed animals
~ A body pillowcase to wiggle into
~ Peaceful music options
~ Emotional Regulation print outs (emotion wheels, Red Light process reminder, phrases to remind you what to say while helping your child, etc)
~ Fidgets (poppers, Rubics cubes, pipe cleaners, anything stretchy/squishy/moving parts you might have around the house)
~ I spy containers (purchased or DIY with a water bottle, rice, and little trinkets/pieces/coins)
~ A small container of playdough
~ Soft bristled brush/massage tools
~ Journal/drawing materials
~ Low choking risk food options (soft cereal bars, apple sauce pouches, pudding cups)
Consider buying a couple books to keep in the corner:
~ "Calm Down Time"by Elizabeth Verdick is great
~ Breathing/meditation books for kids
~ If your child struggles with specific repetitive behaviors, consider books specific to their needs (hitting, biting, screaming, anger, high energy/out of control spirals, etc.) I'm always happy to give suggestions depending on your child's need and age.
More elaborate corners may have:
~ Noise cancelling headphones (and consider earplugs for the adult too! Taking the edge off your sensory load will help you stay more grounded to better help your child)
~ A fish tank
~ Sensory pod swings
~ Weighted blankets
~ Body Socks
~ Sensory boards on the wall
~ Punching bag
The possibilities are endless. What would you add to the list?