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Calm Down Visuals for Young Kids: Effective Techniques to Ease Big Emotions

Calm-down visuals can play a significant role in helping young children develop emotional regulation skills. They serve as an easy-to-understand tool for kids who may not yet have the vocabulary to express their feelings or the strategies to cope with strong emotions. By incorporating visuals into daily routines and activities, parents and educators can help children process their emotions and provide guidance on how to adopt healthier coping mechanisms.

One of the most effective ways to introduce calm-down visuals to young children is through video modeling, which has been shown to be a practical and successful method for children with autism spectrum disorders source. In these videos, kids can observe and learn positive behavior, and find ways to self-soothe and control their emotions when they feel overwhelmed.

In addition to video modeling, calm down visuals can be incorporated into physical spaces and activities, such as timeout areas or calming corners in both home and classroom settings. These spaces can be equipped with visual reminders, posters, or charts that demonstrate coping strategies and self-compassion techniques aimed at helping children learn to soothe themselves and return to a more balanced emotional state.

Calm Down Strategies for Kids

Breathing Exercises

Breathing exercises are an effective way for kids to calm down and regulate their emotions. Teaching children how to take slow, deep breaths can help them develop coping mechanisms. We can teach kids to inhale for four-counts, hold for four-counts, and then exhale for four-counts. This simple technique can have a profound impact on kids' emotional wellbeing.

Yoga

Yoga has been proven to be an excellent stress-reliever for both adults and kids. There are many kid-friendly yoga poses that can help them stretch their bodies and concentrate on their breath. One of our favorites is the “tree pose,” which helps strengthen balance and focus. Encourage your child to practice yoga regularly, and they'll be equipped with tools to face stressful situations.

Mindfulness

Introducing mindfulness to kids at an early age can help them develop a sense of self-awareness and build emotional resilience. We can start by asking them to focus on their current emotions, sounds around them, or any physical sensations they may be feeling. A guided mindfulness activity, such as listening to a mindfulness bell or focusing on their breath, can also be helpful in promoting a sense of calm.

Meditation

Meditation can help kids develop a sense of inner peace and balance. We recommend finding guided meditation videos or apps designed specifically for children to make the experience more enjoyable. Start with short sessions, around 3-5 minutes, and gradually increase the duration over time. Encouraging kids to practice meditation during times of stress can provide long-lasting benefits.

Stretching

Just like yoga, stretching can help kids release tension in their bodies and cultivate a sense of inner calm. We suggest incorporating a daily stretching routine to promote relaxation. Some kid-friendly stretches include the “butterfly stretch,” “seated forward fold,” and “cat-cow stretch.” These stretches can be performed individually or as a group activity, promoting a sense of connection and emotional wellbeing.

You can get your own copies of Breathing Exercise Cards, Calm Down Yoga Cards, and Affirmation and Coping Skill cards for kids in the Calm Kids Corner Bundle!

calm down corner bonuses

Tools and Techniques

Calm Down Cards

Calm down cards are an excellent visual tool that we can use to help teach children self-regulation and effective coping strategies for calming down. These cards can be customized with a variety of images and phrases that resonate with the child. For example, we might use images of deep breathing, counting to ten, or having a quiet time. When a child becomes overwhelmed or upset, we encourage them to choose a calming strategy from their calm down cards. This helps them take control and focus on positive ways to manage their emotions.

Stress Balls

Stress balls are another simple yet effective tool to help young children manage stress and anxiety. The act of squeezing and releasing a stress ball engages toddlers and preschoolers in a tactile sensory experience, which helps to redirect their focus and reduce anxiety. We can offer stress balls in various textures, sizes, and designs to cater to children's individual preferences and needs. Incorporating stress balls into our calming strategies empowers children to respond adaptively to stress and regulate their emotions.

Calming Strategies

We can incorporate various calming strategies in our programs to help young children develop emotional resilience and coping skills. Some effective calming strategies we use include deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, and mindfulness practices. These activities encourage children to become more self-aware, recognize their emotions, and learn effective techniques to self-regulate. When we teach calming strategies to young children, we ensure that the activities are age-appropriate and engaging, incorporating visuals, stories, or songs to maintain their interest and attention.

Yoga Cards

Yoga cards are a versatile and fun tool that introduces young children to yoga poses and mindful exercises. These cards combine visual cues with simple instructions, making yoga accessible and enjoyable for kids. We can use yoga cards to guide children through a series of poses, focusing on both physical and mental wellness. Introducing yoga to youngsters not only helps improve their balance, flexibility, and strength but also promotes relaxation, mindfulness, and stress reduction. By incorporating yoga cards into our programs, we are fostering a holistic approach to emotional well-being for young children.

Get the Calm Kids Corner Toolkit here!

Click here to learn about the calm kids corner toolkit!

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Sensory Based Solutions

Proprioceptive Activities

Proprioceptive activities can provide sensory feedback and help young children self-regulate and calm down. These activities target the proprioceptive sensory system, which involves the body's awareness of its position and movement. Examples of proprioceptive activities include:

  • Deep pressure activities like bear hugs or squeezes
  • Pushing or pulling weighted objects
  • Jumping or trampoline exercises
  • Animal walks (such as crab walks or bear crawls)

Integrating these activities into a child's routine can provide the necessary sensory input to help them feel calm and focused.

Oral Motor Exercises

Oral motor exercises can also play a crucial role in helping young children with sensory processing issues. These exercises involve using the mouth, lips, and tongue to improve muscle strength and coordination. Examples of oral motor exercises include:

  • Blowing bubbles or whistles
  • Sucking through straws or chewelry
  • Tongue exercises, such as licking or rolling
  • Oral motor chew toys

Incorporating these exercises into their daily routine can provide sensory feedback and help children self-regulate.

Essential Oils

Using essential oils can have a calming effect on young children who experience sensory overload. By providing a comforting scent, essential oils can help create a soothing environment for a child. Some popular essential oils for calming children include:

  • Lavender
  • Chamomile
  • Vetiver
  • Ylang Ylang

It is essential to select high-quality oils and always check with a healthcare professional before using essential oils on or around young children.

Weighted Blankets

Weighted blankets offer deep pressure touch stimulation, a type of sensory input that can encourage the release of neurotransmitters like serotonin, which promotes calmness and relaxation. These blankets work well for children who struggle with sensory overload, as they can provide the necessary proprioceptive input. When selecting a weighted blanket, aim for one that is about 10% of the child's body weight plus one or two pounds for optimal effectiveness. It is crucial to follow safety guidelines and consult with an occupational therapist or healthcare professional to ensure proper use.

Calm Down Kits

Creating a Calm Down Kit

Calm down kits are an excellent resource for helping young children develop emotional regulation skills. We can create these kits by gathering a variety of sensory items that will help kids feel more relaxed and in control of their emotions. It's important to involve children in the creation process, as it allows them to choose items they feel connected to and provides them with a sense of ownership over the kit.

To start creating a calm down kit, first choose a suitable container, such as a small box or bag. This will act as the designated space for storing all the sensory items that the children can turn to whenever they need to calm down. Next, consider the needs and interests of the children who will be using the kit, ensuring that it contains a range of items that cater to their sensory preferences.

Items to Include in a Kit

When selecting items to include in a calm down kit, we should consider a variety of sensory experiences, such as tactile, visual, and auditory stimuli. Here are some examples of items that can be included in a calm down kit:

  • Fidget toys: Small, portable toys or objects like stress balls that children can hold and manipulate with their hands to help them focus and self-regulate.
  • Visual aids: Calming images, such as nature scenes or abstract designs, can be added to the kit to help children relax and focus their attention on something soothing.
  • Calming scents: Aromatherapy products, like essential oil-infused playdough or scented stickers, can help children engage their sense of smell to reduce stress and anxiety.
  • Weighted items: Small weighted items, like lap pads or weighted stuffed animals, can provide a sense of comfort and security for children who respond well to deep pressure.
  • Noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs: For children who get overwhelmed by their environment, noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs can help them create a quieter, calmer space.
  • Breathing exercises or relaxation techniques: Providing simple and easy-to-follow instructions cards on deep breathing exercises or progressive muscle relaxation can help children learn techniques to calm themselves down.

Remember, the aim of a calm down kit is to provide children with a personalized collection of sensory coping tools and strategies that they can use independently. By including a variety of items that cater to their unique sensory preferences, we can support their emotional regulation and promote a sense of calm and balance in their everyday lives.

Get the Calm Kids Corner Toolkit today!

Click here to learn more about the Calm Kids Corner Toolkit!

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Coping Skills and Techniques

Emotional Self-Regulation

Emotional self-regulation is essential for helping young children manage their emotions. We can teach them various strategies, such as deep breathing exercises and relaxing muscle groups, to calm down in times of distress. Through practice, they can learn to recognize their emotions and choose which techniques work best for them. Visual aids, like The Incredible Years, can also be helpful in modeling these self-regulation methods.

Positive Affirmations

Positive affirmations can play a significant role in enhancing a child's self-esteem and reducing anxiety. We can provide children with short, positive phrases to repeat in times of stress or difficult emotions. Encourage the use of visuals, such as cards with uplifting messages, for children to reference when in need.

Examples of positive affirmations:

  • I am strong and capable.
  • I can handle this.
  • Every day, I am growing and learning.

The image below gives you an example of positive affirmation cards from A-Z, along with coping strategies as well for your child. You can get these for free with the Calm Kids Corner: your Emotional Guide toolkit!

positive affirmation cards examples

Problem-Solving Skills

Equipping children with problem-solving skills can reduce anxiety in challenging situations. We can teach them a step-by-step approach to breaking down problems and finding solutions, cooperating with their peers, or asking for help when needed. Incredible Years Classroom Social Skills and Problem-solving suggests using video vignettes and role-playing as tools to aid in the development of these skills.

Managing Big Emotions

Managing big emotions, such as anger, fear, and frustration, can be daunting for children. We can teach them coping techniques to manage intense feelings effectively. Strategies like Yoga for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorders are useful in promoting relaxation, mindfulness, and physical self-awareness. Providing visuals, such as emotion charts or calming images, can support the process of identifying and processing these big emotions.

How Calming Visuals Can Help Your Child

Calming visuals can be an effective way to help young children with self-regulation, especially for those with autism spectrum disorders or attention deficit disorders. By using various visual and auditory elements, we can create an environment that soothes and reduces stress in young children.

One approach to creating calming visuals is through video modeling. In Video modeling for young children with autism spectrum disorders: A practical guide for parents and professionals, the authors discuss how creating videos of calming activities can aid in teaching emotional regulation. By watching and imitating the actions in a video, a child can learn to perform these calming activities independently.

Another option is using technology to introduce relaxing experiences that engage children's senses. For example, biofeedback video games have been used to teach relaxation and breathing techniques to children with attention deficit disorders, as outlined in this study. The games utilize visual images and auditory stimuli to encourage children to engage in stress-reducing activities and maintain focus while doing so.

Designing calming visuals for young children is essential in creating a supportive environment. Simple, uncluttered images and a soothing color palette can help calm a child. Additionally, incorporating visual cues for relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing, helps a child to internalize those strategies.

In conclusion, integrating calming visuals into a child's daily routine can have a positive impact on stress levels and emotional regulation. By strategically utilizing tools like video modeling, soothing design elements, and technology, we can provide young children with the support they need to develop healthy coping mechanisms.

Below is one example of a calming strategies poster included in the Calm Kids Corner: Your Emotional Guide Toolkit!

Setting Up and Creating a Calming Corner

Selecting the Right Space

When setting up a calming corner, it's important to choose a space that is quiet, comfortable, and away from distractions. A corner in the living room, playroom or child's bedroom can be ideal. We recommend keeping the space clean and clutter-free to promote a soothing environment. Designing it in such a way that it is not overly stimulating or crowded will help children focus on finding their calm.

Adding Calming Elements

Incorporating calming elements in the corner can greatly contribute to its effectiveness. Some elements to consider include:

  • Soft, comfortable seating options like beanbags, cushions, or pillows
  • Calming visual aids, such as peaceful imagery, nature-based posters, or calming colors
  • Fidget toys and sensory items, like stress balls or textured fabric
  • Low-volume background music or white noise machines to mask other sounds
  • Aromatherapy diffusers with calming scents such as lavender or chamomile

Create a space that is personalized to the child's preferences, ensuring that the items chosen will help them feel calm and secure when using the corner.

Using the Corner Effectively

Once the calming corner is set up, it's essential to teach children how and when to use it. We suggest:

  1. Explicitly explaining the purpose of the corner: Help children understand that the calming corner is a safe space for them to self-regulate and manage their emotions.
  2. Modeling its use: Demonstrate how to engage with the calming elements in the corner. For example, show kids how to take slow, deep breaths while holding a soft pillow.
  3. Encouraging self-reflection: Once the child is calm, facilitate a brief conversation about their emotions and what led to the need to visit the calming corner. This helps in building emotional intelligence.
  4. Integrating it into daily routines: Make visiting the calming corner a regular part of the child's routine, regardless of their emotional state, to reinforce the idea of self-care.

By setting up and utilizing a calming corner effectively, we can create a supportive environment for young children to self-regulate, cope with emotions, and develop healthy strategies for managing stress in their daily lives.

Activities to Encourage Calm

As we strive to teach our young children the importance of regulating their emotions and finding ways to stay calm, providing them with specific activities can be incredibly beneficial. Here are some activities that can help encourage calmness in young kids:

Drawing and Coloring

One effective method for helping kids calm down is through the use of drawing and coloring activities. This allows them to express themselves creatively while also providing a soothing outlet for frustration or anxiety. Encouraging children to draw or color can be as simple as providing paper and a variety of art materials. They might create their own calming images or we could provide them with pre-made calm down visuals to color and decorate.

Listening to Music

Music has a powerful effect on our emotions, and as such, it can be a valuable tool in helping children stay calm. Consider introducing kids to different types of calming music, such as classical or nature sounds. Playing music quietly in the background during stressful situations or allowing children to select their favorite calming tunes can help them feel more in control and at ease.

Playing with Play Dough

The tactile experience of playing with play dough can provide both a creative and calming outlet for kids. The act of manipulating the dough, rolling it, and shaping it into various forms can serve as a relaxing activity that allows them to focus their energy and soothe their emotions. Set up a play dough station with different colors, tools, and molds for them to explore and enjoy.

Outdoor Activities

Spending time outdoors engaging in activities such as running, taking a bike ride, or going for a walk can be a great way to help young children release energy and find stability. Physical exercise is not only good for their overall health but can also have a positive impact on their emotional well-being. Encouraging kids to engage in outdoor activities can help them learn to self-regulate and develop a versatile set of tools for staying calm.

How to Help My Child Identify Their Feelings

Helping our children identify their feelings is essential for fostering emotional intelligence, which in turn helps them build healthy relationships and navigate challenges in life. One effective way to start is by teaching our children the language of emotions. We can do this by naming the emotions they might be experiencing, such as “happy,” “sad,” “angry,” or “frustrated.” For instance, if your child appears upset because their toy fell apart, you can empathetically say, “I see you're feeling frustrated because your toy broke.”

In addition to verbal language, we can make use of visual aids to help our children understand their emotional experiences. Many resources like The Incredible Years include helpful images, charts, and illustrations of various emotions, which can be beneficial in teaching our children to recognize and label their feelings. Displaying these visuals around the house can serve as reminders and conversation starters when discussing emotions.

Below is an example of a name your feeling poster from the Calm Kids Corner: Your Emotional Guide toolkit to help you and your child work on identifying feelings.

Name your Feeling

We can also encourage our children to express their feelings through creative outlets, such as drawing, writing, or acting. By providing a safe space for them to explore their emotions, we are fostering self-expression and self-awareness. Demonstrate to your child how they can use different colors or facial expressions to convey various emotions in their drawings or performances.

Moreover, it's essential for us to model healthy emotional expression ourselves. If we openly share our feelings and discuss how we manage them, our children are more likely to adopt these habits too. We can also show empathy by reflecting on our children's emotional experiences, providing them with reassurance and understanding.

In summary, helping our children identify their feelings involves teaching them emotional vocabulary, utilizing visual aids, promoting creative expression, and modeling healthy emotional expression. By supporting our children's emotional growth, we are setting the foundation for their future well-being and success.

How to Help Child Identify Their Needs when Upset

When young children get upset, it can be difficult for them to express their emotions and needs. As parents or caregivers, it's crucial that we support them in identifying and addressing these needs. One effective approach involves using calm down visuals.

Calm down visuals are visual tools designed to help young children regulate their emotions and understand their needs when upset. These visuals often include images, symbols, or simple phrases that represent various feelings and coping strategies. We can introduce these visuals to children when they are calm, so they become familiar with them and can easily reference them when they're upset.

To create effective calm down visuals, we should identify the common emotions and needs children may have when they are upset. Some typical examples include feeling angry, sad, or overwhelmed. Once we have a list of emotions, we can then develop visually appealing symbols or phrases that represent these emotions. For instance, a child who is feeling angry could have a visual representation of a red face or a fire icon.

Next, we should develop coping strategies for addressing these emotions and needs, such as deep breathing, taking a break, or using a favorite toy for comfort. We should represent these coping strategies through similarly simple visuals, like breathing icons or images of the child's favorite toy.

Keep in mind that each child is unique, so the visuals we create should be tailored to suit their specific preferences and needs. We can involve children in this creation process, encouraging them to identify their emotions and choose coping strategies that resonate with them.

When a child becomes upset, we can refer to the calm down visuals as a way to help them identify their emotions and needs. We should gently remind them to take a moment, look at the visuals, and choose a suitable coping strategy. By consistently using these visuals, children will begin to associate these symbols with their emotions and the coping strategies they need to regulate themselves.

Incorporating calm down visuals into a child's daily routine, such as during transitions or when facing new challenges, can further solidify their ability to identify their emotions and self-regulate. This consistent practice helps foster their emotional growth and can lead to better emotional regulation and problem-solving skills as they grow older.

Resources and Materials

Calming Strategy Cards

We recommend using calming strategy cards to help young children visually identify and practice strategies to calm down. These cards often depict simple, easy-to-follow images of calming strategies, such as deep breathing or counting to ten. They can be laminated for durability and attached to a key ring for easy access, where you can find calming strategy cards specifically designed for children.

Books for Kids and Parents

We also highly recommend some books related to teaching calming techniques, such as Graphics for Learning, that provide guidelines for designing visual materials for young learners. These books can help parents and educators create effective calm down visuals for children by providing tips and ideas on designing and evaluating visuals.

Calm Down Books for Kids

Finally, introduce your child to calm down books specifically written for young children. These books can help them understand their feelings and learn self-regulation techniques, such as taking deep breaths or finding a quiet space. Some popular titles include “Calm-Down Time” by Elizabeth Verdick and “When Sophie Gets Angry” by Molly Bang. You can find them in your local library or bookstore.

calm down visuals

Tips for Parents

Handling an Angry Child

When it comes to dealing with an angry child, we suggest parents remain calm and composed. It's essential to understand and validate their feelings without immediately trying to fix the problem. Remember that every child is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. Use techniques like deep breaths, counting to ten, or taking a short break to help your child regain their composure. We also recommend using visual aids, like calm down cards or a feelings wheel, to help your child express their emotions.

Emotional Regulation

Developing emotional regulation skills is vital for young children, as it sets the foundation for managing their feelings later in life. Here are some strategies we suggest:

  • Introduce feeling words to expand their emotional vocabulary, such as happy, sad, angry, and scared.
  • Engage in emotion-focused discussions to help them understand common situations that evoke emotions.
  • Use social stories or visual aids to help them anticipate feelings they may experience in specific scenarios.
  • Teach emotional coping strategies, such as deep breathing exercises, progressive muscle relaxation, or visualizing a safe place.

As the child develops emotional regulation skills, it's crucial to provide consistent support and model healthy emotional expression.

Positive Parenting

Positive parenting is an effective approach that fosters a supportive and nurturing environment for children. Here are a few aspects of positive parenting:

  • Effective communication: Maintain open communication with your child by actively listening to their concerns and thoughts. Use age-appropriate language and non-verbal cues to connect with your child better.
  • Praise and encouragement: Focus on praising your child's efforts and accomplishments rather than only their successes. This builds their resilience and confidence.
  • Consistency: Establish clear expectations and rules, and be consistent in implementing them. This helps children understand boundaries and consequences.
  • Role-modeling: Exhibit the behaviors and values you want your child to adopt. Be mindful of your language, emotional expression, and how you interact with others.

By incorporating these positive parenting strategies, we can create a nurturing environment that supports the emotional growth and development of our children.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are some effective calm down strategies for young children?

There are various effective strategies to help young children calm down. Some popular techniques include deep breathing exercises, counting to ten, and engaging in sensory play. Other activities include practicing mindfulness or yoga poses, listening to calming music, and using visual aids, such as calm down printables, to manage emotions better. It is essential to explore different strategies to find what works best for each child.

How can I create a visual calming corner for my child?

Creating a visual calming corner involves setting up a designated space in your home where your child can go to self-soothe. Make the area comfortable and inviting by including elements such as soft furnishings, soothing lighting, and visually appealing artwork. Incorporate tools and resources that can engage your child's senses, such as fidget toys, calming cards, and meditation aids. Tailor the calming corner to your child's unique needs and preferences.

What are the essential items to include in a calm down kit?

A calm down kit should contain items that can help your child manage their emotions and practice self-regulation. Some essential items may include sensory toys, stress balls, calming cards, coloring pages, and a weighted blanket. Other items might involve noise-cancelling headphones, essential oils, or relaxing music. Customize your child's calm down kit according to their needs and interests.

How can calm down printables help teach kids self-regulation?

Calm down printables offer a visual aid that supports children in practicing self-regulation skills. These printables often come in the form of charts, posters, or cards that describe various calming techniques. By providing step-by-step instructions and engaging visuals, calm-down printables help children understand the process and benefits of calming strategies. They remind children of the techniques available and encourage them to practice independently.

You can check out the Calm Kids Corner Printables to help you get started!

Calm Kids Corner Your Emotional. Guide square image

What benefits do calm down cards offer for children with autism?

Calm down cards are especially beneficial for children with autism as they provide visual support and a structured approach to self-regulation. These cards often feature simple, clear images and text that describe a specific calming technique. For children with autism, who may face communication challenges, calm down cards can provide a clear and concise method to express their need for specific calming activities, thereby reducing stress and anxiety.

How can I introduce calm down techniques in a preschool setting?

To introduce calm down techniques in a preschool setting, first, create a designated calm down area within the classroom. Equip this space with necessary calming tools, such as fidget toys, visual aids, and sensory items. Introduce the concept of self-regulation and various calming strategies to the children by discussing and demonstrating them in a group. Incorporate calm down techniques into daily routines, and encourage children to use the calm down area when needed. Provide support and guidance to help children learn effective self-regulation strategies over time.

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