Creating a Calming Space


Mental heath can be stressful, unpredictable, and overwhelming. Therefore, in an environment you’re unfamiliar with or distracted in, it is critical to have somewhere to turn to; a space for yourself to be yourself. Whether at home, school, gym, park, etc. having a place/thing where you can think and regulate yourself serves as a great calming practice. Unlike being directed to a timeout to help redirect your poor behaviors, this is a similar practice. However, in this instance removing yourself from the physical setting isn’t punishment, but to have time alone. According to Dr. Soma, PHSYD, LMSW, Chief Clinical Officer at Starr Commonwealth, “The purpose of a calming corner is to help support self-regulation while keeping students in the classroom if they need a break from instruction time or a group activity.” Giving children the ability to remove themselves from stimulation to de-escalate, regulate themselves when agitated, work when needing to complete a task, or simply want to reflect/think. The consequences of a calming corner are very beneficial; creating peace of mind and reassurance through regulation development. These spaces are effective and will prevent children from being sent out of classrooms, or possibly running away from home, as well. These spots can also be used to develop the accountability of self-regulation, encouraging children to acknowledge thoughts/feelings. According to Success Consciousness, these spaces can provide:

  1. Improved Concentration

  2. Efficiency in handling daily life

  3. Sense of Inner Strength and Power

  4. Improved Patience, Tolerance, and Tact

  5. Freedom from Stress, Anxieties, and Worries

  6. Sense of Inner Happiness and Bliss

  7. Improved Sleep Patterns

Everyone desires a place where they can feel safe and secure to be themselves. Unfortunately, many of us share homes, which make bedrooms more than likely to serve as one’s primary calming space. The area is yours so create boundaries based upon the calmness you hope to achieve, and tailor it to how you would like it to benefit your regulation. For shared classrooms, it is critical for the student to feel as if he/she is still included in the classroom, and not a timeout setting that feels like rejection. Teachers will need set boundaries to effectively execute the purpose of regulation and accountability in calming area. Students have found it effective to use passes or hand signals to alert their instructor they need to “chill out.” The Watson Institute has developed a few ideas for a calming space when in the classroom, but may also be used for your bedroom even:

  1. Bean bag chair(s) or Floor cushions/Large pillows

  2. Soft rug

  3. Relaxation CD, Player, and Headphones

  4. Books/Magazines

  5. Low Dividers, for Student Visibility

  6. Visual Calming Strategies

  7. Visual Timer

  8. Colored Pencils/Pen/Notepad/Worksheets

  9. Exposure to Nature

  10. Relaxation Techniques

The Calming Corner is a positive place that reinforces regulation for children and also promotes engagement for students, using strategies to re-engage themselves so that healthy learning and healthy living can occur. If your child frequently displays poor engagement and self-regulation outdoors, then try creating a calming kit. These portable kits should include toys and gadgets to fidget with when needing to isolate from their surroundings or thoughts.