Calm Down Kit
I love having my clients create a calm-down kit for themselves at home. It can be a great time for them to use their hands and build something to express their personality. It can also start some helpful conversations about emotions, what options they have when feeling these emotions, and who they can go to for additional help.
What is it?
A calm down kit is a kit/box that is filled with things that are helpful for your child to cope with emotions. Calm down kits can help your child calm from a meltdown or as emotions start to increase, and/or support your child with sensory needs.
What should I put in it?
Anything that helps your child soothe when uncomfortable emotions start to increase or they are beginning to de-escalate from a meltdown. Typically, these items might cater to their senses (e.g., sight, sound, touch).
Examples: stress balls, stretchy toys, monkey noodles, liquid motion timers, weighted blankets, bubbles, noise-canceling headphones
Note: Sometimes, these items can be helpful to use as a distraction/guide their attention from what is causing their increased emotions. However, if a child is already escalated, they may not respond well to items from these kits. They may need some time and space to calm, first, before utilizing this strategy.
How should I introduce this to my child?
- Have your child pick out a box or container where they will keep these items together
o Have some fun with it! Get markers, stickers, glitter, etc., to help your child make it theirs.
- Allow your child to have some input of what they would like in there, and if you add items yourself, be sure to explain why you are adding these in/how to use them.
- Give examples of when your child can use this kit.
o Are there recent meltdowns/situations you can refer to?
- Find a good spot to put this kit. Typically, I recommend either a quiet corner in the house or the child’s room. This way, if the kit stays in the same spot, your child can seek out these items/use them independently. Why not increase some independent skills?! 😊
- Support your child with using this!
o Although we want to increase independent use with these items, children learn best from modeling. So, next time you notice their emotions increasing, have them go to their box and model how to use each item…sometimes, it can be best to not even use words, just actions.
What should I do after they are calm?
Calming strategies are great to help kids have tangible items to distract them or calm them from triggers. However, it won’t be fully helpful unless parents take time to talk with them after their emotions have stabilized.
- Find out why they were feeling this way. Validate their emotions. All feelings are okay!
- Were there any inappropriate actions? (e.g., hitting, kicking, throwing, etc.) If so, are there alternative actions they could do in case there is another situation like this? It’s important to let children know that it was their actions that may be getting them into trouble, not their emotions.
- Could the problem have been avoided? Could they have asked for help? Are there other alternatives to the situation?
- Share times where you have had to manage your uncomfortable emotions. Sometimes knowing that others go through these same emotions/situations can open up future dialogue.
Allie can be reached at CORT@i-can.center.