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-
- Storage boxes
- 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,
- 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;
- Pin-wheels, that spin as you blow.
- Soft whistles,
- small bubbles that they blow
- or some balloons.
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;
- Emotional Face cards or facial pictures like the ones in our emotional intelligence activity.
- Finger or hand puppets
- Books on feelings or stories about emotions
- Blank paper and drawing tools
- Colouring book and coloured pencils
- Story stones (with a feelings theme) made like the ones we did here
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 : http://adventuresathomewithmum.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/scented-sensory-discovery-bottles.html|
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 :)