Chill out corner - Positive Time Out

Our Chill-Out Corner As a Positive Discipline Tool for Emotional Self Regulation.

I have been doing a little research into activities, colours, smells and so forth that aide in relaxation and calming as discipline tools for Dimples "chill out" corner. Instead of the traditional time outs and the minute per year of age taken we are establishing a calming chill out corner where dimples can go to re-centre, calm down or chill out. Its a bit like a thinking corner I guess, with a positive twist.

The basic idea is that it will help diffuse situations before they escalate into chaos. This doesn't happen often and he is a pretty well behaved little munchkin but he often gets overwhelmed by big emotions in his tiny body, whether its frustration or anger or sadness and I want to provide him with an appropriate outlet for these because we all know big emotions can escalate into yelling, shouting, name calling, lashing out, tantrums and even physical attacks.

The chill out corner will help him reconnect and re-centre with his true self.
The idea is that it will provide an appropriate avenue for release of his pent up emotions or frustration and teach him its ok to feel that way, but you have a choice what to do with these feelings. It will be a relaxed atmosphere with activities objects and smells that help relax the mind.

How to make a calm chill out Space-

Here are some ideas of things that can go into a calm space or a chill out corner and what we have included in ours.  If you have any more ideas, please feel free to comment so others can see.

Music: Calming music is a good stress release that aides in relaxation. Soft tranquil nature sounds, classical or calming noises that you can find on mediation Cd's or baby toys do wonders for the mind.  If this isnt something that appeals to your child, many people feel that dance or "dancing it off" to fast up beat music you can groove and move to is a great physical release for pent up energy. After all exercise releases endorphines and endorphines make us happy, right?

  • Meditation balls that have the chimes insides them,
  • Wrist bells
  • Small tambourine or maraca
  • Baby Rattles and shakers
  • Rain makers
  • A music box like the one above

Colours:  Blues, Greens, Purples and Greys are said to be calming colours. Notice they are all on the cool side of the colour spectrum. Light and neutral colours that aren't overwhelming and will help calm the soul are great to have in your calming space. It has been said that warm colours, such as yellow are stressful and can even cause distraction and agitation in children.
Use your colours in your chill out area through-
  • A diffuser that has essential oils and changes colours, like this one: 
  • Storage boxes
  • Furniture
  • Discovery bottles
  • Materials of cushions
  • A floor rug
  • Wall Paint or posters/Pictures used
  • Colours of objects and items included
  • Visual desk decorations. 

Sense of Smell: Lavender has long been known to aide in stress relief.  You can use smell in-
  • Scented sensory bottles, 
  • Dyed rice soaked in lavender,
  • Diffusers,
  • Room spray on the cushions or materials,
  • Clean the room with lavender carpet deodoriser,
  • Use lavender in pillows, pot pouri or in teddies with the stuffing
  • Hide lavender scented room things through the area.
  • Or make a Lavender rice zen garden like the one below.
Relaxing Mini Zen Garden Using Lavender Dyed Rice.

Sensory Tactile Objects: These objects require focus and attention and have been used in calming activities with children for a long time.  Occupational therapists utilise sensory activities and things that they call "fidget toys" for children who have adhd, autism and sensory processing disorder but for all children these type of toys can provide a release of energy in a highly attentive manner where they require a re-focus of cognitive ability and a distraction from the spaces surrounding them.  This helps them self regulate their emotions, calm down, re-centre, settle the mind/body and provides a stress-release (much like the adult stress balls I am sure you've seen before).
  • Stress balls, these can be made from balloons filled with play dough, rice or flour.
  • Visual liquid table timers or lava lamps
  • Cognitive puzzles (Rubik cube, links, and mind mazes with small balls that go through)
  • Children's squish or squeeze toys
  • Textured toys (Hairy, fluffy, rubbery or sticky feeling that can be fiddled with)
  • Sensory boxes
  • Discovery or sensory bottles
  • Miniature Zen gardens
  • Trickery/mind game toys, like the twist it baby toys and links.
Stress balls, squeeze balls, mind agames, sharkers and bells

Deep Breathing: Most children don't know how to calm their body down and self regulate so they need to be taught this skill. Asking them to close their eyes and take deep breathes can help but for younger children there are fun little activities that can help that require deep breathes. Tell them to take a big breath before entering the chill out corner and to use their breath in;

Reading, Drawing and Art Therapy about feelings:  This gives a child the opportunity to distinguish their feelings through pictures and discuss how they might feel without directly talking about it. Art therapy is often used with older children to release negative energy and express inner feelings but for younger children just doing a big hard scribble can be a great release, ask them to draw how they feel and see what they come up with. Whether it is a picture a scribble or a bunch of hard lines doesn't matter as long as they feel they can openly let out how they feel in an appropriate way. The idea is that it is OK to feel angry or upset, emotions are normal but what you do with them is even more important.  You can help by identifying words for the feelings and discussing them by using;

Ripping, Hitting and Scrunching appropriate Objects:  If it is strong emotions relating to aggression, frustration and opposition that a child experiences you can provide them with safe objects to take their feelings out on. Ripping and tearing up paper or scrunching it releases physical stress and can give the child a sense of control that they feel angry and are allowed to show it but not projected onto their self or others. Another great physical release for pent up negative energy is pounding play dough or hitting a pillow or a bean bag.  The child cant hurt them self and often the act of letting it out physically will release their stress and cheer them up. Have you ever hit a pillow? Often children find its quite funny and after a few hits or punches they think its silly and funny, then will start mucking around, they've let out their emotions, released their stress, realised its ok to feel that way and re-centred into a positive frame of mind.
  • A pillow corner
  • Bean Bag
  • Soft toys
  • cuddle toys with rattles or chimes inside
  • Scrap paper to rip and a bin
  • Play dough to punch and thump
rattle cuddle toys and Lavender Sensory bottles as seen here :

The important thing that we will be doing with our new form of time out will be there is NO TIME LIMIT.  Dimples is 3, but I will not make him go in to it for 3 minutes. He may only require one minute to refocus. He may feel good after being in there for a short time and if he is kept in there after that, the time to praise and establish a connection with him has gone and past.
The other thing is that it is not punishment and it is not isolated. I can also sit with him if he wants and help him, and it is not just an area to go when I spot him becoming worked up or agitated it is an area that can be used whenever we need some quite time or some peace.

The idea of our chill out corner is that he can go there when he needs to calm down or when i can see he is getting worked up or not coping with strong emotions.  Once he does this and feels he has calmed down he can come to me. It is important to notice and specifically praise the good behaviour or appropriate release of emotions as he has shown it (not 3 minutes later after the time has past) and it is also important that this discipline tool is a form of prevention and an opportunity to learn how to self regulate, it is not a form of punishment or a 'Naughty Corner'.

The other concept of our chill out time is that its for ME TOO.  It is important to set a good example, children learn by observation and imitation so if they see that everyone, even adults get agitated or frustrated and its ok to do that but important to calm down or "chill out" they will follow what they see. For that reason I will be using the chill out corner to, if I need to re-centre and calm down I will go do what calms me down a sketch or  a drawing, or play with the meditation balls.

Chill out & Happy Adventures :)


  1. This is really lovely how you have taken the time to find so many possible alternatives and choosing to find peaceful ways to work through issues! Sharing it with the positive parenting connection page :)

  2. this is a really interesting alternative to time out. I like that it is about refocusing and not about punishment, you've explained it really well. I imagine there will be times when he chooses to go there himself without any need for prompt because you have put s much interesting stuff there too. Thanks for sharing this, I'm pinning to the Sunday Parenting Party Pinterest board and featuring on my SPP post this week.

  3. You have put so much thought and feeling into this space, it really is so wonderful. You have covered so many ways for your son to feel calm and refocus. I'm featuring you on my blog today as part of my Sunday Parenting Party post. Thank you so much for linking up.

  4. I love this idea of it not being a punishment....i have been doing something similar but not with an actual spot designated for my d daughter to go...i will definitely be implementing this as soon as possible...thank you so much for your insight.

  5. I love this idea of it not being a punishment....i have been doing something similar but not with an actual spot designated for my d daughter to go...i will definitely be implementing this as soon as possible...thank you so much for your insight.

  6. I love this idea of it not being a punishment....i have been doing something similar but not with an actual spot designated for my d daughter to go...i will definitely be implementing this as soon as possible...thank you so much for your insight.

  7. I love your idea and is very interesting !!I want to ask you if you paint the wall with the alfabet and numbers ?thanks!!!

  8. We do something similar for my kiddo who has major sensory issues, it is amazing if you can just calm them how things just work out so much better with kids, and also teach them better ways to deal with their anger!! I'm so glad I came across your blog from the TGIF Linky, now a follower! Have a wonderful week!!


  9. Some superb ideas, thank you for sharing!

  10. Hi, it was suggested to me that I have a calming corner and you have given me a great many ideas. I am currently seeing where I can squeeze one in!

  11. Hi, I love this idea and would like to utilize it in my clinic. I wonder, how do you prevent your child from "using" it to get out of tasks? I'm not saying that he does that, just curious about what strategy you would utilize to prevent your calming corner into becoming a diversion? I look forward to your answer. Thanks!

    1. Hi, thanks for your comment.
      Dimples hasnt tried this, it is kept as a special kindof area and mostly I am with him or nearby when he is in it. If he was trying to use it to get out of a task, say for example simething he is responsible for doing, and used excuses i would let him have a cuople of minutes. Id agree that he can go in there for __ minutes but then it will be time to complete his chore. Then i would give a warning when he has one minute left and go to him when that time is up, explain what he has to do next.
      We also utilise rewards charts, he gets a star when he is a good listener and does the right thing. I also have special smelly stickers for special occasions that I would use after he completed his task.
      You could also emphasise that the chill out area is a special area for times when it is needed. I think its important aswell to be conscious of how they feel and be a shoulder to cry on or an ear if they just need to be heard and help them understand what feelings they have, so the idea that the space is to used with an adult would also be feasible, even if it requires you just sit near by and offer a smile, let them know your there when they have calmed down.
      Good luck
      I would love to hear how you do your space and what successes you have with it.

  12. What a wonderful idea!! We made the lavender rice zen garden and my little one loves it! Thank you for sharing at Sharing Saturday!!

  13. Have you read Time In parenting book by Otto Weiniger or are you familiar with the Circle of Security Parenting program. Think you would like them, both support the idea of Time IN, co regulation and supporting a child to learn to calm down, "loaning them your strength" etc

  14. Amazing ! I've found that staying positive and teaching kids to self-regulate makes the discipline process so much easier with kids. I sometimes tell my boys they need to have some "alone time", and set them up with quiet toys and books. I love the idea of having an area dedicated to "chilling out", that they could access whenever they feel the need, rather than just when I suggest it.

    I am definitely going to do this. Thanks so much for the inspiration.

  15. Hi! Thanks for all of this great information. Any thoughts on implementing this with 2 kids (5 and 3)? Space is limited so each probably can't have their own space but I feel it might be important for my five year old not to have his special space invaded by his little sister. Thanks in advance.

    1. That's a tricky one, if they had separate rooms id suggest to dedicate one corner with a soft cushion or small beanbag and a special basket with some soothing toys, squeeze balls etc then you can use it for when they need to calm down or have their own chill out time in their own space. but if you cant do that maybe there is a joint quiet place where you can have a shelf, drawers or small kids table and a cushion either side, so they have their own "side" and their own seat, with the joint area in between having some tactile balls, some pin wheels, sensory jar and something that plays soft music.
      I think the most important thing is to stress the respect for each others space and property. Maybe just a "special" box or basket each that has age specific chill out toys that help calm. Easier said than done I know, especially when 3 year old sisters look up to their brothers and want everything they have lol. Best of luck. Id love to hear back from you when you find a positive solution.



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