Calming Corner Ideas
I’ve been talking a lot about mindfulness lately. Talking about it is one thing, practicing it is another. It’s really hard to slow down and be mindful throughout our chaotic days with kids, but I make my best effort because it’s so important for our children’s growth and health (as well as my own).
Creating a calming corner (or mindfulness corner) in your home is one way you can help your children be more mindful and connected with their feelings. A calming corner is a positive space that your kids can go when they need to calm their bodies, take some space, and process their emotions.
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I’ve been having some parenting challenges related to listening in my home. I’m sure you can relate.
When my kids are struggling with listening or controlling their bodies I usually ask them to take some quite time to themselves until they feel more in control. While I’d like to say I always ask them to do this calmly, there are times with I get angry, react too fast, and I hear these dreaded words come out of my mouth – “go to your room.” (sigh)
When I was growing up “go to your room” was how many parents disciplined their children (among other tactics). As times have changed and parents have more parenting resources available to them, more and more parents are using positive parenting techniques, rather than the “old-fashioned” discipline strategies. I’ve read several parenting books and I really strive to practice patience, understanding and positive parenting practices.
But, sometimes I fail. I lose my temper, I shout, and I yell at my kids to go to their rooms. Ugh!
This isn’t to say you’re a bad parent if you use the “go to your room” method. We all do what works for our family and I’m not here to judge. Whether you send your kids to their rooms or not, a mindful corner can be a useful tool.
Why have a Mindful Corner?
Kids don’t misbehave because they want to. They don’t have the skills required to control their behaviors and are they are still learning to process their big feelings. I try to keep this front and center of my mind when my kids actions disappoint and anger me.
I decided I want to do away with “go to your room” and have a safe space for the kids to go when they need time to unwind, relax, read a book, write in their journals, or take some deep breaths to get their bodies in control. I created a mindful corner where they go to take time to be mindful of their thoughts and actions.
A calming calming corner helps them learn the skills needed to control their behavior and process their feelings.
This space is not meant to be used as a punishment. It is designed to be a positive space where the kids can feel safe being themselves, expressing themselves, and being mindful of their thoughts and actions.
Instead of shouting “go to your room” (or even nicely asking them to go to their rooms) I ask my children to take a break in the mindful corner to de-stress and re-focus.
How do you use a calming corner?
I know what you might be thinking – this sounds great, but will it really work? Can you really be mindful as a parent in those moments when your kids are hitting each other, jumping off couches, and spilling milk all over the floor? Will you be able to take a deep breath and calmly ask your child to take a break in the mindful corner? And will they actually listen?
The mindful corner should not be used as a place to go when you’re doing something wrong. It should be a space the kids want to go. They should enjoy spending time there so start by encouraging them to spend some time reading, coloring or writing in their journal in the mindful corner. Check out my post – Mindfulness Activities for Kids to get ideas on how you can incorporate mindfulness into their every day.
If the mindful corner is a positive space asking them to go there to calm down won’t be a big deal. Your kids won’t think you’re trying to punish them and you won’t be shaming them for their behavior. Instead, you’re giving them an opportunity to take some time to reflect, calm down, and start again, without the negativity and shame. That is positive parenting!
We are all human. We all lose our patience. We all wish we had handled things differently from time to time. This won’t work every single time. Every day is a new day and every teaching moment is a new opportunity.
Be easy on yourself and your kids.
Keep working on mindfulness every day and don’t give up. Over time you will start to see small changes lead to big ones.
What do you put in a sensory corner?
Here’s what I suggest for your calming corner:
- Comfortable chair or pillows
- Calming Jars
- Stuffed Animals
There are no specific rules you need to follow when creating your mindful spot. If possible, find an area that is far enough out of the way that your child won’t be distracted by other people in the house. Grab a comfy chair, or some pillows to create a comfortable and welcoming space. Create some calming jars to keep your children’s hands busy and help them re-focus when they need some time to take a break.
Include your kids! Have them create some artwork and ask them to help you design the space.
I said there are no rules, but actually, there is one – no screens. Absolutely no iPad, televisions, or cell phones. Giving children an iPad has become an easy form of distraction, but mindfulness is about the opposite of that. Mindfulness is about getting away from distractions, focusing on your thoughts and being present in the moment.
Resources for your Calming Corner
Our calming corner (pictured above) is in my daughter’s closet. It’s a fun secret hideaway for her to go hang out with her stuffies and favorite blanket.
Here are a few of things we have in it:
Gratitude Journal – we have a selection of themed gratitude journals that we use as part of our daily routine for teaching gratitude and acknowledging our feelings and thoughts.
Breathe Like a Bear – this is a beautiful book with 30 mindful moment activities to help kids feel calm and focused.
I am Confident, Brave & Beautiful – We love this coloring book for helping build our girls confidence and imagination.
Calming Jar – Check out this tutorial from Martha Stewart
Books – Check out my list of books with positive and inspirational messages.
Craft-tastic DIY Wall Art – We don’t have this in our calming corner (it’s above my daughter’s desk), but I think it would be a great addition to a mindfulness corner or any part of your child’s room. It’s a DIY wall art kit with so many powerful and positive messages for kids. I worked on this with my 9 year old and it was a really great bonding activity and makes for a really fun centerpiece of her wall.
For more mindfulness resources for kids check out:
5 Ways to Practice Mindfulness with your Children