I don’t keep it a secret that all three kids have big personalities. They are intense, and it has always been challenging for me to manage their big feelings.
Hour-long tantrums where we forgot what even happened to create such a scream-fest, hitting, punching, pulling hair, kicking walls; there was no shortage of maladaptive behaviors in my house.
I tried to seek out different options to help manage these big feelings, including therapy, various professionals at the school, and advice from my mom.
My oldest attended occupational therapy for a couple of years to help manage his sensory difficulties and work on his self-regulation (among other things). One of the things that our OT suggested was to create a place for him to calm down when he needs it.
The Calm Down Spot was born.
He and I put pillows, blankets, and a large bean bag into half of his closet, which he chose for his calm down spot. Whenever he felt that he was getting overwhelmed or anxious, we would make our way to his calm down spot, do his deep breathing, and use the strategies his OT gave him.
When the twins (now 6) began having uncontrollable meltdowns around the age of four, we made a calm down spot for them. Pillows and blankets in their little tent in their room made the perfect spot for them to calm down when they needed it.
By no means is this perfect, and it does not stop the tantrums from the beginning, but it has become such a ritual in our house for calming down, teaching the children how to regulate their own emotions, and a place for them to be that is safe until they can better manage their feelings.
Creating a Calm Down Spot in your house:
- Involve your child in creating the spot and explain to them why you are making it
- Fill the space with anything soft and comforting to your child (pillows, blankets, favorite books, or stuffed animals are some ideas)
- Practice going to the spot when your child is calm so they begin to associate calmness with the space you choose
- Reassure your child that you are there to help them. The Calm Down Spot is not a punishment; it is a place to be safe when they are upset.