Creating a Calm-Down Box

calm-down-boxThe idea of a calm-down bin for kids is a fantastic concept that has been around for a while. I have a calm down box in my playroom and I am always looking for new ideas on how to build these with my clients.

Personal side note: my personal calm-down box involves a warm bath, candles, a glass of wine, and spa CD, but kids don’t necessarily go for that!

When to Use a Calm-Down Box:

These are perfect for encouraging your child to calm down from a tantrum, occupy themselves while waiting for something (like lunch), or anytime they feel frustrated, angry, or sad. Everything in your box should represent a positive and acceptable means of managing emotions.

Positive Parenting recently highlighted calm-down boxes. They offer some good descriptions on putting together your calm-down boxes.

What to Include:

Calm-down boxes should contain items that appeal to the senses (you may hear the term sensory toys). Basically, these are toys that feel good to look at, touch, smell, and hear.

  • Rice bin
  • Glitter bottle
  • Soft pillow and blanket
  • Squeeze toys
  • Playdough
  • Sensory (textured) balls
  • Calming music

Items that focus attention are also good to include:

  • Books
  • Rubix cube
  • Coloring materials

And items that encourage deep breathing:

  • Bubbles
  • Pinwheels

Make Your Own Items!

For some homemade items (great for activities in session too), check these out:

The homemade items are half the fun of putting these boxes together. These activities encourage creativity and personalization. Kids love to know they can use something them made by hand!

As always, questions, comments, and suggestions are welcomed!


18 Responses to “Creating a Calm-Down Box”
  1. This is wonderful to hear. It sounds like you are doing some very important work and making a difference in many lives. Thank you for sharing your story!

  2. kara says:

    Thanks for linking to my sensory bin πŸ™‚

  3. lori says:

    I am looking for some coping ideas for kids, but more in the moment, ie. during games and athletics. We are having a over competitive and very self critical time with our son.

    • Hi Lori. This is a great question and a common problem to address. Using deep breathing and cognitive reframing can help when someone needs immediate relief. However, these skills still need to be taught and practiced so they come more naturally in the time of need. Using a calm down box can encourage this practice time, as well as participation with parents. When you are all heated and in a stressful moment, get everyone to practice taking deep breaths, or at least be a model for using the skill when you are angry. Hope this answers your question and thanks for reading! πŸ™‚

  4. I really like this idea! I think I would add a nice picture book to flip through. That has been one of my little guy’s (now four years old) favorite ways to relax when he is upset or sad.

    I’m sharing this post around! πŸ™‚

  5. Jenny says:

    How do you think this would work with middle school students? How would you modify the box? I am seeing a lot of my students don’t have coping skills and “fly off the handle” easily. I’d like to help them and like this idea, but the contents listed might be too “babyish” for middle schoolers. Some of them might work–coloring book, stress ball, rubix cube, etc.

    Thanks for responding!

    • Kim Peterson says:

      Hi Jenny. Thank you for reading. I suggest taking the concept of a calm down box and making a corner or basket with items more age-appropriate. These may include the popular Zentangle coloring books, rubix cubes, anything that smells good, a radio, putty, and fidget toys. And remember that no matter what the age, colors and pay-doh never get old (even if they don’t admit it). Giving the students an opportunity to take a time out to destress can also be helpful because it encourages self-awareness and responsibility for their own feelings and behaviors.Best of luck with the adolescents! πŸ™‚


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  2. […] a Calm Down Kit! What great idea I wish I had years ago! I like the suggestion of having “Take 3 deep breaths, then count back from 10 before […]

  3. […] available. Kim Peterson, Licensed Professional Counselor provides practice suggestions on Creating a Calm Down Box on her Kim’s Counseling Corner website. She provides practical, simple suggestions for calming […]

  4. […] to your child, or try to teach them a lesson. Assuming they are not in danger, allow them time to calm down by consoling them or encouraging them to take deep breaths. Keep in mind that reacting to them […]

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  6. […] Create a calm down box – fill a box with supplies that calm your child – encourage them to choose it when they need it. Good things to include are sensory activities: play-dough, rice bin, bottles filled with glitter and water, stuffed animals, books, paper and drawing materials… things that they can do by themselves when they need a little while to settle themselves down. Lots more ideas here: […]

  7. […] any soft toys that normally help your child when he/she is stressed and something like these calm down boxes, which can include stress balls, small sensory objects, and calming mindfulness bottles (bottles or […]

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