When life gets stressful, activities are too difficult, and mom keeps saying “no”, it is natural for children to become upset. So how do you help your child work through their emotions and calm back down? One useful strategy is to create a sensory calm-down corner…
What is a Sensory Calm-Down Corner?
A small space in your home where your child can go to be alone and calm down. The space will include a variety of sensory components that are comforting, promote relaxation, and remove outside distractions. It’s a space they can make their own and have access to at any time.
Who Would Benefit?
Any child can benefit from having a safe space to retreat to when he or she becomes upset. It is especially useful for children who:
- Have regular temper tantrums
- Are more sensitive to or bothered by sensory experiences (touch, sound, movement)
- Have difficulty with emotional regulation
Why does it work?
- Removes the child from stressful or overwhelming stimuli
- Provides calming elements that address each sensory system
- Teaches children to identify their sensory needs and take responsibility for emotional regulation
- Is a positive alternative to time-outs
Where Do I Put It?
Find a place in your home that your child has 24/7 access to, such as a bedroom or play space. Then designate a portion of that room to be the Sensory Calm-Down Corner. Provide them with the ability to make it their own.
How Do I Make One?
Each child has unique interests and needs, meaning every Sensory Calm-Down Corner will look different. Check out the “What to include” section below for key components to include. Most recommended items can be ordered on Amazon or found at your local Walmart or Target for little cost. Your child’s therapist at CI will also be happy to help identify which items will best fit your child’s sensory needs.
What to Include
- A safe space (tent, curtain, room divider, blow up kiddie pool)
- Dim lighting (fairy lights, Christmas lights, night lights, fiber optic lamp)
- Calming music and/or white noise (classical music CD or online download, fan, white noise machine/app
- Soft/comforting furniture (bean bag chair, fluffy pillows, stuffed animals, blankets)
- Deep pressure (weighted blanket, lap weights, heavy stuffed animal)
- Stress relief (squeeze ball, Theraband, fidgets, Play-doh)
Written By: Nicole Dorow, MOT, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist