A calming corner or calm down corner is a safe, quiet space where a person, especially a child, can sit and relax when they are overwhelmed or acting out. An area not used for any other purpose will help create a positive experience and avoid stacking negative consequences on top of negative behavior, creating more problems. An excellent calm corner should feel pleasant and distract a child long enough to relax and address their emotional state in a meaningful way. For little ones or nonverbal kids, this can involve drawing a face of how they felt and want to feel. Older children should discuss or write about how they ended up in a calm corner, what happened, their reaction, how to deal with those emotions in the future, and how they feel now.
Benefits of a Calm Down Corner
There are plenty of benefits of a calming corner. A nice, safe place to relax, identify what happened, assess their emotions and actions, work on self-control and get out of the emotional space of other people involved in the not-calm incident are critical. Here are the most important benefits of a calm down corner.
- Identify Emotions – The ability to be self-aware and identify your emotions is a vital life skill. A calming corner can help your child learn that early in life.
- Work on Self Control – Going to time out or thinking in the calm down corner helps children focus on their behavior and get it under control.
- Calm Down – As obvious as it is, a calming corner helps people calm down. Letting go of the negative emotions and feeling more relaxed allows for forward progress instead of exacerbating the problems.
- Safe Space – The goal of a calm down corner isn’t to stop your kids from having big feelings. It provides a safe space for them to look at what went wrong, how they feel about it, and how to help themselves change that in a safe way that isn’t destructive.
- Manage Other People’s Response – The old saying ‘it takes two to tango’ means no arguing or problems without at least two people. In most cases, another child or an adult is the second half of this equation, so each child needs their own calming corner. By stepping away and taking time to think, the kid in the corner also gives their adults or other kids time to calm down. This is highly conducive to a better resolution and a happier overall life. It gives the child a small way to help manage other people’s emotions and responses, which can build confidence and foster better relationships.
Calming Corner Posters
Use these free calm down corner printables to set the mood and help your kids or students calm down and relax.
The free calm down printables are available in PDF format or as an image.
Tips for How to Use a Calm Corner
Using a calm corner should be simple and consistent. Set limits on what is an unsafe, unhealthy, or problematic emotional display, like hitting, yelling, or other outbursts. Once the child passes this limit, they need to calm down so you can help them deal with things better. Below is a list of tips and tricks for how to use a calm corner.
- Timer- A small, durable timer is the best way for kids to begin actively participating in the calm corner immediately. Have the child set the timer or press a button to start their time when they arrive.
- Lay Down- Make a little more space. Offering enough room to lie down instead of just sitting can help with relaxation.
- Toys and Fidgets- A calm corner is not ‘go stand in the corner, you’re in time-out.’ Instead, it is a nice place where kids should feel relief and enjoyment.
- Calming Strategy- Setting out steps, like setting the timer, then using a fidget, hugging a soft stuffy, or taking other specific steps, can help your child get into a calmer, more receptive space.
- Discuss or Express- The goal of a calm corner is not to suppress or get rid of feelings; it is meant to give the child a place to relax so they can more appropriately deal with those big feelings. When they’ve finished their time in the calm corner, discuss, or have them write a few lines in a journal about how they felt and why they had the incident that needed time in the calm corner.
- Make A Plan- Sometimes, a calm corner is enough by itself. However, making a plan for dealing with similar incidents in the future by setting out specific steps to take before things get to that level may help too.
- Don’t Expect Perfection- All children have behavior incidents. Life will still frustrate and overwhelm children even when you’ve been using helpful strategies like a calming corner for years. It’s essential to avoid treating the calm corner like a punishment. It’s a way to help, not a problem.
- Calm corner sign – Print our free calm down corner sign to hang in your designated cool down corner. See the free calm down corner printables above.
Calm Down Corner at Home
A calm down corner at home can be any corner. Many people prefer to refer to it as a timeout corner. Start by filling the space with a seat and soft things like plush toys and pillows. Ensure there’s a place to sit. Choose a location where it is quiet and out of the way. Next, if you can, a shelf of some sort will give you a place to put items that help your kids with distraction and refocussing their attention on something friendly and pleasant. Fidget toys are a great option, but try to choose spinners and other items that aren’t loud, annoying, or styles that make repetitive noises. Too much sound can cause more distractions for other people and could exacerbate the situation. A small box like a shoebox is just fine if you don’t have a shelf available.
Finally, sit down with your child and discuss when to use the timeout corner. Your kids should be allowed to sit if they feel stressed, frustrated, or overwhelmed by big feelings. You should also tell them that you will send them there when you see they are acting out excessively. Set a time limit based on their age and ability level. One minute for younger children and five or ten minutes for older kids. After the time is up, it’s a good idea to sit together and discuss what happened.
Calm Down Corner at School
You should do a classroom tour at the start of the school year and explain the calm down corner. You need to set boundaries about how the calm corner is used. For example, having two students there simultaneously isn’t a good idea. Instead, allow them to take turns or have two opposite calm corners in case of arguments. Similarly, there should be a time limit on how long students can sit there—base your timeframe on the kids’ developmental capabilities and age range. Asking a toddler to sit for five minutes is often too much, but restricting a child with sensory overload or processing issues from taking a more extended break as needed isn’t a sensible solution. Tailor how the calming corner works for your class and situation.
A smart way to send a student to the calming corner in the classroom is by using a card instead of a verbal cue. You can set the card on their desk to avoid causing more distractions. Any student with a calm card should go to the calm corner immediately. Create a spot to put the card away in a slot or mailbox. Using a timer is necessary for a busy classroom, so providing one that kids can use easily and showing them how it works is part of the process. When they are done with their calm down, have students return to class, but remember to take time with them later to discuss what happened. See the free calming corner posters for your classroom calming corner.
Calming Corner Ideas
Do you want to upgrade your calming corner to make it even more excellent? We’ve got a few calm down corder ideas to help turn your calm corner into a thing of beauty, fun, and relaxation.
- Make it Blue- Blue has been shown to help people feel calmer.
- Add Plants- Like the color blue, a little nature, whether it’s live plants or pictures from magazines, helps the human mind feel less stressed.
- Themes- Does your child love space, dinosaurs, tea parties, or something else special? Turn your calm corner into a themed space where they can relax with their favorites.
- Floor Mats- Rather than seats, you can use floor mats or even a sleeping bag to create a more pleasant effect.
- Only Calming- Don’t use the calm corner for anything except calm down time.
Punishment is less effective than understanding and creating a growth mindset. A calming corner helps adults manage children’s outbursts and offers them a safe space to relax instead of tensing up more as they await some punishment or lecture. Promoting calm, self-control, and honest emotional assessment is a smart and caring way to reduce anxiety, minimize outbursts and deal with overwhelming feelings.