A little bit of preparation can go a long way in helping our children cope with stressful or emotional moments in a healthy way. A great tool to create with your child is a calm down kit, or a box of their favorite toys and activities that they can open when they’re feeling big feelings.
Calm down kits can be used for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and even older children and adults. They often have sensory objects that children can touch, smell, hear, and taste to bring them out of their emotions and back into the present moment. Follow these steps to get started on your child’s first calm down kit:
When your child is already calm, get them involved in creating their kit. This can help them feel more invested in the kit and more likely to use it when needed. Use kid-friendly language to explain what the kit is for. For example, “Sometimes we feel really big feelings like when we’re sad, angry, or scared, and it’s OK to feel that way. We’re going to put together some of your favorite toys you can play with when you’re feeling those big feelings. What toys help you feel happy and calm?”
Choose a small box, a bag, or even a specific drawer or shelf for the calm down kit that is easy for your child to access and use. Remind them what the kit is for, and encourage them to use it when they’re feeling big feelings. Keep the calm down kit in a place your child can easily access, such as in their bedroom or in a common area of the house.
Include items that your child finds calming and that they can use to help manage their emotions. This could be a favorite stuffed animal, a blanket, a small toy, or a stress ball. Consider adding sensory items to the kit, such as a smooth stone or playdough, that can help your child focus and relax. Adult supervision is highly recommended when your child uses playdough or any other small object that they can fit in their mouth.
Teach your child how to use the items in the kit, and encourage them to use the kit when they are feeling overwhelmed or upset.
A calm down kit can help children manage their emotions and find calm in difficult moments. By involving them in the process and choosing items they love, you’re helping them learn more about emotions and giving them tools for finding calm that will help them thrive throughout their lives.
Quick Tip: Consider including a teething toy in your child’s calm down kit. It can be a helpful self-soothing tool and give them something else to focus on other than their big feelings.