While calming corners can be used as an alternative behavioral management strategy for children who are having difficulties with self-regulation, both children and adults can benefit from spending time in a calming corner when feeling one or more of the following:
- Feeling overstimulated
- After having a meltdown
- Feeling angry
- Feeling stressed & overwhelmed
- Experiencing anxiety-spiraling and panic
- Needing time to re-focus
- Hyperactive or overly excited
You do not need to have a large space. A small corner, closet or entire room may be used, creating a mini room within a room such as using drapes for adults or a play tent/ fort area for children is another option.
The corner can then be customized to meet the specific needs of the individual who will be using the space.
Twinkling white string lights, a soft lamp, a calming LED light projector, or colorful calming light in your favorite color are options. Some people may also opt for total darkness.
Add items to sit, lie down, and/ or relax. For example:
- Massage chair
- Heated neck & shoulder wrap
- Bean bag chair
- Weighted blanked or weighted vest
- Soft rug & floor pillows
- Stuffed animal(s)
Add sensory calming features for the senses of sound and smell
- Music and/ or noise-cancelling headphones
- Sound machine with soothing sounds
- Mini waterfall fountain
- Diffuser with essential oils
- Scented candle
Add supplies to keep hands busy and serve as a distraction
- Coloring/ art supplies
- Crafting supplies
- Books or journals
- Items to practice deep breathing (e.g., pinwheels, bubbles, “breathing ball”)
- Fidgets and sensory-calming toys
Add supplies to eat/ drink
- Water bottle
- Gum, hard candies, or suckers
- Mini packets of crunchy or soft & chewy snacks
You may also want to add visually pleasing items that you enjoy looking at such as plants or artwork.
Bonus: Some of these ideas may also serve as gift options!
A calming corner is a great strategy that is used as a resource to be used whenever a break is needed to help with self-regulation. It is not to be used as a punishment, but rather a tool that is available when experiencing strong emotions and needing a break to calm.
Written by: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC
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