Our child only wants to play on my phone. My daughter can’t play by herself. Our kids say they are bored. My son can’t entertain himself. I want my child to go play outside but he only wants the iPad. Do these sound familiar to you? As a therapist my inbox and voicemail are flooded with them daily. Recently I’ve been introducing The Calm Down Box to families and it has been very successful.
The Calm Down Box
So, what can be done you ask? Plenty! A few years back I was introduced to The Calm Down Box. In its original form, The Calm Down Box was created to help children with sensory needs learn to self-regulate. Over time, The Calm Down Box has taken on many creative names and identities such as The Quiet Time Box, Quiet Corner Kit, Solo Activities Box, Road Trip Kit, Time Out Box, etc. So, what’s the point of this magical box? Self-regulation, quiet play, independent play, sensory break and non-screen activities.
What to Put in a Calm Down Box
Here are some of my favorite items to put into a Calm Down Box. Remember, all boxes can be modified for specific needs:
–Coloring pages and crayons- quiet and soothing activity
–Fidget cubes/stress balls/playdough/ kinetic sand- keeps hands busy
–Favorite book- quiet activity
–Race cars and other small toys – independent play
–Crunchy snacks- great for sensory needs and blood sugar regulation
–Legos- great for sensory and creative play
–Bubbles- calming activity
–Puff balls and pipe cleaners- great for creative play and sensory breaks
–Small stuffed animals/squishies- soothing and comforting
–Feeling chart- self-regulation tool
Below are additional resources, and tips for creating your own kit:
How to Implement The Calm Down Box
Again, Calm Down Kits can be used for a variety of needs, however the main idea is to gather several calming/soothing items into one place and prompt your child to use the kit in order to learn self-regulation, engage in independent play and non-screen time activities.
Pro tip: Encourage children to use their box for 10-30 minutes each day; make it a family event by declaring quiet play and setting a timer. The more they use the box when calm, the more they will gravitate towards it in moments of dysregulation.
Creating Your Own Calm Down Box
Here is what you need:
–Box- think old shoebox, treasure chest, etc.
–Markers, colored paper, stickers, etc. for decorating
Pro tip: Allow your child to decorate the box, this will encourage ownership and pride. In addition, engage your child in finding items from around the house that they would like to include. The more the child is involved, the more likely they will be to utilize the box.
Once you have all your items, it’s time to get busy! Decorate your box, fill it with items, and practice family quiet time! Remember, it’s never too late to teach your child self-regulation, independent play, or the importance of down time, and now you have your box full of tools to do just that!