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Creating a calm down corner



Experts say a change of scenery is better than a time out

Experts say a change of scenery is better than a time out


Although my son is twenty-two years old, his mother and I still recall his “baby rage.” He was a very sweet infant and toddler, but, like all small humans, he occasionally got incredibly furious, and would wail and growl like an animal. Because he was mostly preverbal, talking to him was fruitless. We tried time-outs for a short while, but that didn’t work for us. More often than not, if we were at home, we would just let him rage, watching from the doorway until he exhausted himself. If it happened in public, we would remove him from the company of other people. If it was on a plane… I don’t want to talk about that.

When we were in our tiny apartment – most of the times he would rage – it never occurred to us to do what Donna Housman, Ed.D, clinical child psychologist and founder of the Boston-based Housman Institute, advises in Christen Perry’s recent Parents.com article: create a “calm down corner.” (In retrospect, we could conceivably have done this in the kitchen.)

“A calm-down corner is an area where a child who is experiencing heightened emotions may go to engage their minds, calm their bodies and release strong emotions in a safe and controlled manner," Housman says.

READ MORE: Soothing a strong-willed child

Perry adds: “It's important to understand that a calm-down corner is not the same thing as putting your child in time out. Instead, it's a place he can go to calm down when he notices his emotions are starting to spiral out of control. A calm-down corner might be as simple as a space with a soft mat and a bucket of books, or as elaborate as a fancy fort with colorful art on the walls and baskets full of sensory activities. And of course, it doesn't have to be a corner. The key is to find what helps your child feel calm and balanced again, in a space that's removed from the chaos and noise of the rest of the house.”

Allie Finkel, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and co-owner of Kind Minds Therapy in New York City, says a calm-down corner “can teach little ones improved self confidence, independence, and self-insight.”

These proponents of the calm-down corner promise your child will soon realize on their own when they need it, and will go there of their own accord, regulating emotions on their own, with no need of scolding, punishment, or solitary confinement.



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