Last month, my family transformed a corner in our dining room into a calm down corner. This, of course, included a calm down kit.
No exaggeration — this has been a total game-changer in our home.
Three kids, all at different ages and stages, all with different strengths and weaknesses, and this set up is benefiting them all.
What Goes in a Calm Down Kit?
So this leaves the question – what goes in a calm down kit?
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Choosing Items Your Child Enjoys for their Calm Down Kit
I’ve talked to parents *cough* my husband *cough* who really struggle with this idea – and maybe that’s you, too – so I’m going to try to explain why it’s important that your child truly enjoys the items in their calm down kit.
Some parents feel like this is rewarding bad behavior.
I’ve heard the argument “So my child hits me, and I’m going to turn around and say ‘oh, let’s go color so you can calm down’ I don’t think that’s right because it’s rewarding bad behavior”
Calm down kits do not reward bad behavior
Allow me to break it down as simply as I can.
Basically, the calm down kit has nothing to do with rewards or punishments. It’s simply a tool to help your child regulate so their brain can return to a state where they’re able to process what you’re saying and what is happening in a logical way.
What to put in the calm down kit
Remember to choose items that are age-appropriate, enjoyable, can be completed in a few minutes since your child is only taking a short break.
A timer is definitely a must for your kit. When children take a break to calm down, it should be for a short, set amount of time. I recommend somewhere between 3 – 7 minutes. Depending on the child, the environment, etc.
The first thing that should happen when your calm down kit is open, is the timer should be set.
There are lots of different types of timers out there, all are great in their own way. We use a digital timer at home.
Coloring in a great choice for your calm down kit. Choose coloring books or pages that relate to your child’s interests.
Choose coloring supplies that your child can use without direct supervision. You don’t want to give permanent markers to a toddler who may draw on the walls or put them in their mouths.
Putty is great for stress relief and mindfulness, making it a valuable component to any calm down kit. Some people use slime as well. Slime is personally a no-go for me because it’s too easy for it to get stuck places it doesn’t belong.
We use Crazy Aaron’s Thinking Putty. It doesn’t dry out or stick to things, and there is an endless amount of color choices. My favorites are the ones that change colors and the ones that are scented.
Yoga is one of those things that really helps some people with self-regulation. It doesn’t work for everyone but when it works, it works.
If your child enjoys yoga, add some yoga flashcards to your calm down kit.
Shuffle the deck and get your child to pick 5 cards at random. Then, lay them out and complete the sequence holding each pose for 30 seconds.
This is a great way for you to co-regulate with your child.
Fidget toys just give your child something to do with their hands, it doesn’t really take up any mental capacity and it can help you slow down racing thoughts. We have an array of fidgets in our calm down box.
I like to add new fidgets to the calm down box regularly so there are different things available for my kids to try.
Puzzles are another great addition to your box. The main thing to remember is that the puzzles should be easy enough that your child can complete them without getting frustrated.
Since your child is taking a break to calm down, you don’t want them to attempt anything too challenging.
Tip: I store the puzzles in zip lock bags inside my calm down box so my kids can just grab one, get comfortable, put it together and then put it away when they finish.
These are a hit with my oldest. He enjoys activities like mazes, word searches, spot the difference, etc. For my younger kids, I like the wipe-clean activity books for tracing letters, shapes, numbers, etc.
Each of the kids got their own SnuggleBuddy when we created their calm down corner. Since they’re super soft and cuddly, they make a great comfort item for children, but that’s not the best part about SnuggleBuddies.
Each SnuggleBuddy has four emoji shapes in their back pocket that children can use to identify emotions. I love how my kids can use them to share how they feel in a nonverbal way.
If you’re doing Zones of Regulation with your kids, it’s easy to incorporate your SnuggleBuddies into how you do Zones, since the colors match.
A storage bin
Of course, you need some type of storage bin to keep everything together in your calm down kit. This is obviously essential or things will become messy, disorganized, or lost.
Make sure you purchase a bin that’s sturdy, fits all the items in your kit and closes firmly. I prefer containers with lids that actually latch.
Implementing Your Calm Down Kit
Now that you know exactly what to put in your kit, take the time to read the following posts, so you can be sure to implement the kit successfully!