Monday, February 11, 2013

An Alternative to 'Time-Out': The Calming Space

It is so very helpful to have a safe, calm space in your home where your child can go to be alone, calm down and de-stress away from the hustle and bustle of the home. This space can be a tent, a corner, a special space under the stairs, a cleared out closet with a door your child can easily open/close him/herself (with no locks), or a room dedicated to calming.

Lighting should be kept low. Night lights, fairy lights, rope lights, holiday tree lights and stringing garden lights are all great ideas.

Supply the calming space thoughtfully, keeping it simple and clutter-free. Ideas include relaxing music or audio books with headphones,  a few sensory items, such as a sensory/glitter bottle (google for ideas), glow sticks, flashlight or a star projector, a few fiddly toys to keep hands busy (and minds calmed), stress ball, and of course a few books.

A poster with faces showing emotions, something inspiring or calming like a scenic view of the ocean or forest, or just a simple heart.

Again, keep it simple. Choose items carefully, making sure there is plenty of variety, and place them in a basket so it’s easy for your child to take care of the space.

Video games, phones, gadgets, DVD players and TV’s have no place in the calming space!

Lay out blankets, some comfy pillows, or a beanbag. These will encourage your child to sit or lie down comfortably. A stuffed animal such as a special teddy bear or other comfort item should be included, as well.

Blank paper, coloring pages and crayons may be calming for older kids. Scents can be calming, too. Add a scented candle, though you won't burn it, and your child can sniff it in to have the same effect, or just let it scent the space on it's own (you can melt down scented candles and remold them without a wick into small candy or soap molds to keep the area scented, too). You can also make a scented sachet or pillow using essential oils or herbs. 

Rotate items as your child grows out of them or is ready for something new.   

At first, explain how to use the calming space and what it is for to your child. It’s a space that is just for them, to use anytime they feel they need it. Let them know their responsibilities, too, like keeping the space tidy when they are done using it. You might ask them to use it in the beginning when you feel they need it, and they will learn to use it on their own after a while. Join them sometimes to model calming behavior and to share some peaceful time together. 

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