Calm Down Corner: The No.1 Secret To Empowered Kids

Author Image By Paula McLaren - Norland Nurse NNEB RSH •  Updated: 05/17/23 •  Behavior / Behavior Tips

The secret tool to raising an emotionally aware and healthy child is… a calm down corner.

In this article, we’ll show you how to create a safe, relaxing, and cosy space that will help your child develop emotional awareness and promote overall well-being. So get ready to transform a corner of your home into a beautifully simple oasis that your child will love and return to time and time again.

What Is A Calm Down Corner?

5 Ways A Calm Down Corner Will Transform Your Child’s Emotional Development

Not only are calm down corners important for helping children feel safe but they also teach children how to:

5 Ways A Calm Down Corner Will Transform Your Childs Life

1. Help children self-regulate. Self-regulation is a hugely important life skill. Children experience extreme emotions which can be very overwhelming in the early years.

Having a designated safe space to explore what these feelings feel like and how to process them with calming activities, is vital to your young child’s emotional and social development.

2. Manage frustration and disappointment. A cosy corner can also help with frustration and disappointment as it provides a haven where children can go to process these difficult emotions.

When they have not got their own way, a friend has not shared their toy or they become frustrated trying to master a new skill, the calm down corner can be a brilliant place to cool down and take a deep breath.

3. Encourage feeling emotions. Calm down corners can also become somewhere where your child is encouraged to talk about their feelings. Try using emotional prompts or books to help your child express their strong emotions a little easier.

A Little SPOT of Emotion - Set of 8 Plush Toys with Feelings Book

What is it? This book contains 8 different plush toys each displaying a different emotion - Anger, Anxiety, Peaceful, Sadness, Happiness, Love, Confidence and Tangled (Scribble) - to help children identify and process their emotions.

Why do I like it? This is a very helpful tool to teach children about emotions and how to handle them. Its fun plush toys make learning about emotions manageable and approachable. The Little SPOT of Emotion book is also ideal for children with social-emotional needs.

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4. Understand what makes them feel a certain way. Preschool children can also learn a lot about themselves in a calm down corner! It provides a place where they can reflect on what they are feeling and what happened that made them upset in the first place.

5. Stengthens their distress tolerance. Importantly a calming space can build your little one’s tolerance of distress. Allowing your children to express and process their feelings in a safe place sends the message that it’s ok to experience difficult and upsetting emotions.

The normalising of unpleasant feelings is very important in raising emotionally intelligent children.

Do Calming Corners Actually Work?

Yes, calming corners actually work. I have utilised calm down corners time and time again throughout my nannying career and I love them.

Whilst time-out spaces still have their place, I find that having a quiet space is more beneficial for neutralising everyday overwhelming emotions and helping to develop emotional awareness and open communication with children.

What Age Can You Start Using A Calm Down Corner?

You can start using a calm down corner from as young as 12 months, but definitely, by the time your toddler is 2 years old, you will find this safe place an essential parenting tool.

If your child is struggling to cope with their growing emotions then providing them with a safe haven as a default place to go to, to de-escalate their feelings, to rest or when they become too overwhelmed with life, is very important no matter how old they are.

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When Should You Use A Calm Down Corner?

A calm down corner should be used whenever a child feels upset, angry, overstimulated, or sad.

It is important to note that the calm-down corner should mainly be used for stopping a meltdown or tantrum before it occurs… not once the child is already in full meltdown mode.

The child should be encouraged to visit the calm-down corner whenever they feel emotions building up, as it is intended to provide a safe, soothing, and inviting space to practice coping mechanisms before things escalate.

So, what do we need to include to make the perfect calm down corner for our children? 

How Do You Make The Perfect Calm Corner?

A calm down corner can take many shapes and forms, but it should be safe, comfortable, welcoming, and quiet, and contain calm sensory toys and objects. It’s also the perfect opportunity to create a positive space together and talk about your child’s desires and needs for the space.

Calm Down Corner Essentials:

calm down corner essentials list

My calm down kit for creating a calming space includes:

1. Comfy Flooring: Soft tactile rugs or carpeting are great flooring options for a chill-out corner as they’re soft to the touch and keep the space feeling cosy.

2. Cushions: Cushions are a must in a calm down corner. No-one likes sitting on a hard floor.

3. Bean Bags: Children love bean bags and they are the ideal accessory to a cozy corner.

4. Cosy Cover: If you have the space, a covered calm-down shelter is a great idea as it will feel like a safe den away from the world. Teepees or tents are also great options.

Tiny Land Large Kids Teepee Tent with Padded Mat, Light String & Carry Case

All children love a little house and a teepee is a versatile set up that you can use both indoors and out. This is an item tha will grow with your child's imagination and provide hours of fun for you and them. The perfect setting for nursery tea parties and a cosy snuggle spot for hanging out and reading together or alone.

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5. Books: Books provide a quiet focus and you can choose books with content specifically designed to address difficult emotions. Coloring books are also a great option. Here are a couple of my favorite books about sharing and mindfulness to get you started:

Llama Llama Time to Share

Loved by families all over the world, Llama's story about learning to share his toys with his neighbours is a brilliant way of opening the conversation about how and why sharing is important to your toddler!

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Breathe Like a Bear: 30 Mindful Moments for Kids to Feel Calm and Focused

Breathe Like a Bear is a beautifully illustrated collection of mindfulness exercises designed to teach kids techniques for managing their bodies, breath, and emotions. Best of all, these 30 simple, short breathing practices and movements can be performed anytime, anywhere.

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6. Sensory Toys: Sensory items are great for de-escalating and processing emotions and helping your child come back into the room. Try fidget toys, emotional flashcards, stress balls or kaleidoscope to inspire sensory activities.

Brybelly Feelings in a Flash - Emotional Intelligence Flashcard Game

With 100 beautiful illustrated cards, Feelings in a Flash is a set of flashcards packed with fun activities that encourage little ones to openly discuss and reflect upon their emotions. Helping to build a healthy foundation of confidence and self-awareness that will benefit them for a lifetime.

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7. Favourite Toys: Having some of your little one’s favourite soft toy friends in the cosy corner can also help them to level out emotionally as they will feel a sense of normality.

GUND "Toothpick" Soft Plush Teddy Bear

Super soft, very cuddly and the perfect companion to young children, the GUND Teddy Bears never fail to be toy box favourites for years to come!

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Looking to get your little one to sleep quickly and effortlessly? Check out my Bedtime and Nap Cheat Sheet and master the art of making daytime naps and bedtimes as seamless as possible.

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Author Image Bio
Paula McLaren is the founder of Teething to Tantrums and a highly qualified childcare expert with over 40 years of experience as a Norland Nanny. She holds a BA (Hons) in Early Years Development & Learning (0-6 Years) and the prestigious Norland Diploma. Paula has worked as a night nanny, run a successful daycare center in London, and helped raise countless children using her tried and tested developmental and guidance methods.

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