At TCS we utilize "Regulation Stations" to help students identify feelings and use strategies to shift the way they feel so they can be ready to learn. They are also known as "Feelings Charts" or "Zones check in charts." Strategies are taught via Classroom Guidance and used by students frequently to practice self-management skills. *more info on strategies tab
The following post is all about how to get a "Cool Down Corner" set up in your home during remote learning :)
When done correctly, sending a child to a calm down area can teach them how to:
• self-soothe and calm down on their own (self-regulation)
• take a break when they are angry, sad, frustrated, and/or anxious
• think about how their thoughts and feelings impact their behaviors
How to set up your cool down corner:
- Find the best location (it doesn’t have to literally be a corner). The space chosen should allow for very little distraction. You want kids to focus on calming down and not on what is going on around them. If at all possible, make sure the space chosen is away from trash cans and is not directly under ceiling lights. Bright lights and strong odors can make it difficult for kids to relax.
*Keep materials to a minimum. Too many activities to choose from can further frustrate and overwhelm the child.
Common calm down materials include:
• Headphones/mini speaker • Calm Bottle • Processing/Coping Skills Cards (pictured below)
• Playdough • Sensory balls • Squeeze toys • Books on tape • Books • Coloring materials
• Things to count (i.e. pom-poms, cotton balls, coins, rocks, gems, etc.)
*I added some books, processing cards (Strategy reminders), coloring materials, stress brain-ball, and a snack :)
In order for a calm down area to work, you have to believe in its usefulness and be willing to make adjustments to fit your family’s needs. Here are some suggestions for how to use the Cool Down Corner in your home.
1. Explain the calm down area to your kids. Let them know what it is for, how to use it, and what your expectations are. Discussing the Cool Down Corner with kids prior to them using it ensures that when they have to use it, they will know what to do.
2. Allow kids to get familiar with the calm down area when they are calm. This will give them a chance to explore the items in the calm down area and figure out what is most soothing for them. This is a great time to work with your kids to come up with a calm down plan for when they are upset.
3. Send kids to the calm down area BEFORE they melt down. Many parents are usually good at sensing when their child is on his/her way to having a meltdown. For example, I know when my students start to whine for more than ten minutes they are in the beginning stages of throwing a tantrum. If you notice signs that your child is nearing their frustration tolerance limit, send them to the Cool Down Corner. *Check out Mrs. DeMasi’s signs of dysregulation sheet!
4. Discuss with your child any triggers you notice. Parents typically do a great job of ‘reading’ their kids. If you notice that your child is on the verge of a meltdown, share that information with them. For example, when my cousin is frustrated he starts pacing back and forth. It’s usually only a matter of time before he starts crying or screaming.
When children are aware of their triggers they can begin to tune into their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and ask for a break on their own. You don’t want your kids to always rely on you to be their emotional compass. You want them to develop skills that will help them regulate themselves on their own.
5. Set a timer. Determine how long you want your child to remain in the Cool Down Corner. I recommend between five to ten minutes. You don’t want your calm down area to turn into a play area. Once your child settles down they should leave the Cool Down Corner.
6. Complete reflection sheet with kids. I recommend completing a reflection sheet with kids upon arrival and prior to them leaving the Cool Down Corner whenever possible. You can discuss the reflection questions or you can have your child complete the reflection form. Using a reflection sheet will help your child to process their thoughts and feelings about what led to them needing to use the Cool Down Corner and which strategies actually work for them!
*Click the link above for one version of our CDC reflection sheet from TCS
Check out this great, similar idea (using guided visualization) from Sesame Street for Kindergarten or younger.
(Big Bird’s Comfy Cozy Nest)
Adapted from kiddiematters.com - credit Yanique S. Chambers 2018