This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Candlewick Press, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board.
If you’ve ever been a parent to a toddler, you may be entitled to compensation for emotional and mental damage. (If only). All toddler parents know that the littlest people pack the biggest punches—physically and mentally. When our firstborn reached 18 months, his temper very quickly outgrew his small body. Frankly, it needs its own room at this point. He is now on the verge of being three, and the tantrums haven’t reduced in the slightest. He’s just a kid with big feelings and no clue how to regulate them, so we decided to implement a new tactic. Enter, the calm down corner.
Navigating emotions is a skill that needs to be taught just like writing or reading. Most of us can agree that there are plenty of adults who are not successful at identifying their feelings. That’s most likely because no one showed them how to when they were younger. It’s our job as parents to show our kids what to do with their anger, sadness, and frustration.
Calm down corners can be extremely beneficial for children learning to manage emotions. This is a safe place for your child to express whatever they are feeling and use their surroundings to help ground them. It’s important not to think of this space as a “time out” area so they don’t create a negative association with the space. So how do we build a corner that is so warm and inviting that your child will want to chill out there for a while? Well, we’ve made it simple for you by gathering 5 essential pieces of a calm down corner.
1. Reading material
In our opinion, books are a must for any kid-focused space but especially when trying to achieve a sense of peace. Now, I will admit that I don’t just whip out a book when my kid is mid-tantrum unless I want it to get launched across the room. The key is to catch the big feelings before they blow up to disastrous proportions. So once we see his frustration building, we subtly suggest visiting the calm down corner for his favorite reads.
Books have a way of transporting us to new worlds in a way that not even screen-time can achieve. Instead of numbing kids like a TV show might, books inspire and animate them. We are currently obsessed with Bear and Bird: The Picnic and Other Stories and Twenty Questions. He is completely engaged with both stories, which helps him wind down wonderfully. Every day he asks to read both books and has even memorized parts of each book. They allow him to escape while simultaneously offering him opportunities to process his emotions.
Bear and Bird is a collection of four short stories following a pair of best friends with many differences, but they always try their best to consider each other's feelings. The author, Jarvis, writes his characters with gentle humor and captivating language that allows kids to feel immersed in their story. Kids can witness a social exchange that is touching and a positive example of taking other's feelings into consideration.
Twenty Questions is a quirky and curious story that speaks volumes about a child's capability for imagination. Each thoughtful and silly question prompts kids to invent more stories outside of the pages. Twenty Questions will get their wheels turning and creativity flowing, which is perfect for working through big feelings.
2. Cozy seating
This is an essential part of any calm down space for obvious reasons. The cozier the space, the more kids will want to lounge there. We also recommend selecting an out-of-the-way location so the floor seating doesn’t become a hazard. We chose a small space in our son’s room in between his dresser and couch so the area would feel private to him. Stuffing it with pillows and adding a ceiling tent also made it more inviting.
3. Emotional support stuffies
Stuffed animals and dolls provide warmth and comfort to kids. We’re sure your kid already has a nice sized collection of stuffies, so place a few extra soft ones in the corner. Your LO will be greeted by them and ready to cuddle as they enter the space.
4. Calming visuals or artwork
You can add a feeling chart, affirmation posters, or a calming game to your corner to help your LO identify their emotions. Visual tools are extra impactful for littles who don’t know how to read by themselves yet.
This set of three printable posters are perfect for showing your child how to identify feelings and calm themselves.
5. Ambiance lighting
This one may sound iffy, but mood lighting works for every mood—even the negative ones. Overhead lighting may be overstimulating to a child that is on the verge of a breakdown. Add string lights or a soft nightlight to their corner to help settle their nerves.
This post contains a sponsored inclusion of Candlewick Press, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everymom editorial board. We only recommend products we genuinely love.