The best thing about creating a calm-down box with your child, is that you are teaching them how to self-soothe when feeling anxious, or upset.
A calm-down box contains objects that can help a child relax. If you have three children, each of their calm-down boxes may contain different items, since what settles one person’s nerves may not effect another’s.
The beauty of the calm-down box is the way it empowers kids to manage uncomfortable feelings in a life-affirming way. This is a skill that, once learned, will help them face future challenges without being overwhelmed by nervousness or fear.
Putting together a calm-down box is also a great time to talk with children about anxiety. Kids need to be taught that feeling anxiety is normal, it’s temporary, and it arises to help us to face difficulty, or perform at our best. If the feeling becomes too uncomfortable, we can do things that help us relax—such as get out our calm-down box.
A calm-down box might contain:
- Paper, crayons, markers, pencils
- CDs with calming or upbeat music
- Stress balls
- A harmonica
- Play-dough (lavender scented is especially calming)
- Favorite books, or books about relaxation or anxiety
- Calming essential oils
- Index cards with calming suggestions such as: draw a picture, hum a song, imagine your favorite place, breathe slowly, go to a quiet place
- A small stuffed animal
As kids grow, their box can be updated to reflect changing needs and interests.
For children experiencing more than typical anxiety, tools such as calm-down boxes may not be enough to help them manage their discomfort. If anxiety interferes with your child’s everyday home or school functioning (e.g., can’t sleep, poor concentration, withdrawal) consult with your doctor or a therapist.