If you don't know what a calm down basket is let me enlighten you. It is a basket of items your child can use tools to help self soothe and/or self-regulate their feelings. Calm down baskets are NOT to be used as punishments. I actually have them in a different area of my house than our time-out (or in) chairs. I personally made a basket for each of my boys because some times I need them to calm down at the same time, say when sibling emotions are running high. Also with the four year age difference I needed to think about gearing certain items to appropriate age/maturity (mainly books). I ask the boys to go calm down when they are starting to get irritable and either a meltdown or fight will break out, overly-hyper and I can tell an accident will occur or any times they are being over-emotional. The trick to the success is finding times to implement it BEFORE a choice has been made that would result in a punishment. They go shake the glitter calm down jar (acts as a timer and object lesson) and then they work in the baskets until THEY feel calm. It is meant to be self-regulated where they can learn when they need to calm down and also when they can come out. Self regulation is a life skill for all kids, but for SPD (sensory processing disorder) children it is especially important. Of course, as a mom we need to teach them how to do this. You may need to give a few reminders. Don't forget to model!!! When they are in calm down I try to do something calming too: read a Psalms, drink some tea, take deep breaths, journal, and sometimes I even color.
Here is what I included in our calm down basket. Keep in mind almost ALL items I had around the house or got for a couple dollars at Target. I so wish we had a Dollar Tree up here in Anchorage. I would check there first. The goal is to find items that are calming, deal with kiddo emotions, and think about letting the children use all of their senses (great for all kiddos and especially ones with SPD).
|Sensory Items: teething/oral tools, massager, pinwheel, bubbles (that don't spill), Walbarger Brushing Tool (only for kiddo with SPD), velcro, I Can Calm Myself ABC Cards from Training Happy Hearts, and some natural components (smooth rocks to rub or shells to listen to).|
|Lacing Cards, squishy toys that have different textures, weight, and lights, stress balls, and small stuffed animals for comfort. The elephant is a baby toy but we like it because it makes a crinkly sound and B can chew on the feet.|
|Picture books on emotions, manners, and behaviors, a picture book of the boys doing positive things, a prayer book, children's bible, and a compilation book of poetry for children.|
|Each basket has an accordion file. In it is some laminated mazes, search and finds, and code breakers for A, For A I also add special paper airplane folding paper and mandalas to color (which is used in Tibetan culture for gaining wisdom, compassion, and healing through positive energy). I also added a white erase marker and some crayons in the file.|
|A stretching printout (image from Bambinis) and Angry Bird Cool Down Strategies from The Home Teacher( (this unit she created is EXCELLENT)|
What do you or would you add to your calm down basket? I am planning on a small crank music box and making a lavender rice pillow to add in more smell and audio. Love to hear other ideas.