You’ve probably herd many different names or terms for a Calm Down Corner, this is the term most used in Therapy, the School Boards and Daycares to describe a “safe space” where an individual child can go to self regulate their emotions away from others.
I’m almost 30 years old and still go to therapy to learn different strategies to regulate my emotions, it takes a lot of work to be able to gain the skills of self reflection and self help, its not a skill you are genetically born with, its a taught skill.
For children especially, the skill of being able to recognize and self regulate their emotions can be very difficult and may take some time to learn and master due to their brain growth and development. When looking at implementing learning and coping strategies for a calm down corner area like this in your classroom, daycare or home, I truly feel its important as an adult to understand how a child’s brain is working and developing on the emotional scale. (the Limbic system of the brain)
The Limbic System of the brain consists of the Hypothalamus, Pituitary Gland, Amygdala, Thalamus, and the Hippocampus.
Hypothalamus: The Hypothalamus is a very small part of the brain however it plays a huge role in many important functions, including: releasing hormones, regulating body temperature, maintaining daily physiological cycles, controlling appetite, managing of sexual behavior, and regulating emotional responses from yourself and others.
Pituitary Gland: The Pituitary Gland is a tear drop looking part of the brain that is a part of your endocrine system. Its main function is to secrete hormones into your bloodstream. These hormones can affect other organs and glands, especially your:
thyroid, reproductive organs, and adrenal glands.
The pituitary gland is sometimes called the master gland because it’s involved in so many processes.
Amygdala: The Amygdala is a part of the brain that is responsible for detecting fear and preparing for emergency events. The amygdala is responsible for the perception of emotions such as anger, fear, and sadness, as well as the controlling of aggression. This part of the brain is formed during its development is based upon experiential events. The amygdala helps to store memories of events and emotions so that an individual may be able to recognize similar events in the future.
Thalamus: The Thalamus is responsible for relaying information from the sensory receptors to proper areas of the brain where it can be processed. It is a large mass of gray matter in the dorsal part of the diencephalon of the brain with several functions such as relaying of sensory signals, including motor signals to the cerebral cortex, and the regulation of consciousness, sleep, and alertness.
Hippocampus: The hippocampus is involved in the formation of new memories and is also associated with learning and emotions. Because the brain is lateralized and symmetrical, you actually have two hippocampi. They are located just above each ear and about an inch-and-a-half inside your head.
All of these functions aren’t fully formed or developed until you are 25 years old. This is why it is curtail to learn and develop self emotional awareness and regulation strategies during these formative years and while these parts of the brain are still developing . Experiences will and can have effect on the Limbic System as it develops, depending on the experience it will either positively or negatively impact how these areas are developed in those early years. No matter the case, self help tools can be taught and learned to help a person regulate and understand this part of the brain and how it reacts to the world around them emotionally
A calm down area has been studied and proven to be a great tool for teaching children those self help, awareness and regulation tools and stragies in their early years.
What a Calm Down Corner looks like and consists of
A calm down corner ideally should be separate from an area in your home that your child would usually play in, this area isn’t meant for play, it’s purpose is for centering themselves emotionally and relaxation. (make sure to follow @mylittlelambblog on Instagram to sign up for the email freebie on how to properly implement a calm down corner, in this freebie you will learn at what age this is appropriate for and how to introduce and teach your child to use this space as its intended)
It should be cozy and inviting, choose calming colours for pillows, a blanket, rug or matt , seat extra to help visually promote the idea of relaxation. Maybe include a favourite stuffed animal, a lot of children will use this area to re enact an event out loud and a stuffed animal to confide in can sometimes be very comforting.
Have some quiet activities that can be switched up weekly to keep your child’s interest and books with little to no words, mostly pictures. Puzzles are a great addition as well.
Sensory items are a must. When your child, or even adults, are dealing with a influx to their nervous system, a great way to regulate that is fulfilling a sensory need, something physical that can be touched and focused on to distract and break the cycle (spiralling) of big emotions.
That’s it, at no point should technology like a tablet, iPad, or television be incorporated into a calm down corner, it will be a distraction instead of your child learning how to cope and deal with the emotions they are experiencing head on.
That’s it, to actually introduce and implement a calm down corner will take a lot of time, effort, dedication and being consistent, but once your child gets the idea of it and practices using it, it will be your child’s ( and your) saving grace. Nothing that truly benefits your child’s growth and development emotionally is easy, remember they are still growing that part of the brain till they’re 25 years old, but the pay out and benefits completely out way all that hard work!
I will link below the sensory items I picked up from Scholars Choice. These are NOT affiliate links.
These items however WILL be included in a Giveaway hosted on @mylittlelambblog on Instagram and will be live from Thursday September 12th and the contest closing Thursday September 19th at 7:00pm est. Visit @mylittlelambblog to find out the details on how to enter! (total value : $250)
- Senseez vibrating cushion : https://www.scholarschoice.ca/senseez-touchables-cushions.html
- Heat sensitive, Crazy Aarons Thinking Putty : https://www.scholarschoice.ca/heat-sensitive-crazy-aaron-s-thinking-putty.html
- Kinetic Sand ( the giveaway pack is 8oz but I’m linking the 4lb because its on sale for almost the same price atm) : https://www.scholarschoice.ca/spectacular-sensory-sand-4lb-purple.html
- Large sensory bubble set of four : https://www.scholarschoice.ca/large-sensory-bubble-set-pack-of-4.html
- Medium 5 minute sand timer : https://www.scholarschoice.ca/5-minute-sand-timer-medium.html
- Thera way anti-stress ball : https://www.scholarschoice.ca/thera-way-anti-stress-ball.html
- Wonder wands : https://www.scholarschoice.ca/wonder-wands.html
- Sensory Discs : https://www.scholarschoice.ca/sensory-discs-set-of-5.html