Calm Down Spot DIY

Did you know there is a resurgence of tantrums outside of the terrible two's? I didn't either. I thought once we got away from the "terrible two's" and then the "threenager" stage we would be home free until the tweens and teens. Well, no such luck there. I think C has an even harder time because she has also had to transition into a big sister on top of the normal transitions that a preschooler has to face of her age.

I had noticed an increase in tantrums lately outside of her normal and started to get concerned we have a family of history of autism and I started to get scared. When I did some research and found out tantrums are very normal for 4-6-year-olds. Unlike the tantrums of the "terrible two's" which are a result of not being able to say what you want or need these tantrums originate from a different source. They come from an inability to emotionally regulate overwhelming feelings. This is so very relatable to me. I have struggled with that into my 20's! No wonder she's having a hard time with it. Fortunately, I have the skills now that I can recognize, she needs help. Probably just like I did when I was her age (and sometimes still need). 

So I tried to think of what I do when I am feeling overwhelmed. I do a couple of different things depending on how stressed I am. The probably first thing I do is take some time by myself. I usually do this by getting a shower, it allows me to gather my thoughts, and relax. If all else fails just locking the door to the bathroom and sitting by myself for a moment can also help me with those overwhelming feelings. Then I call a member of my support group. They give me perspective and honesty which I need in a crisis. 

So I set out to find a spot for C to have in her times of crisis. She rarely has time by herself in our house without her little sister and the rest of the family being there. Even her room is infiltrated by cats from time to time. She decided to pick the corner of our living room which was an excellent choice. If she needs to talk she isn't completely isolated and the cats are only upstairs so she wouldn't have that problem. 

For some added privacy I thought a tent of some sort would be good. Especially to keep out little sisters who might be the annoyance you are trying to get away from. So I suggested a teepee which she was immediately excited about. A special place just for her to calm down it was a wonderful idea to her. 

Does it sound like I am using collaboration? Well, that would be because a calm down spot of my choosing and of my creation is really just a glorified time out. That is a punitive consequence to what adults think is "bad behavior" I subscribe to positive parenting which doesn't use punitive punishments. 

I also have recently read a wonderful book on collaborative parenting by Ross W. Greene. He has a couple of books the one I read was called "The Explosive Child" which kind of has a deceptive title because the form of parenting he describes works on all children. It just happens to be the only thing that works for explosive children. This puts a heavy emphasis on parents teaching skills to their children and less about punishing them for what they don't know. Which is how I feel about punitive consequences in the first place. They really don't teach much of anything and as a parent above all, I am a teacher. 

So I was looking at teepees and realized that they are really quite expensive. I looked through Pinterest trying to find a DIY version of the teepee and found a couple of great ones but they actually weren't too different of a price from the one you could buy. Because I work part-time and take care of my other daughter part time I don't have a bunch of time to put something together as big and bulky as a teepee I also don't have the room so I ended up buying one from Amazon.

After getting the teepee and setting it up, I asked C what she wanted to put in her calm down spot.I already had multiple different "calm down jars" which I had made, as well as a bunch my mother had made for her fourth birthday party. She picked two that my mother had made, and one pink glitter one I had made. She also picked her kitty blanket that I had made for her a couple of Christmas's ago, and a pillow. Later she put an Elmo chair in there, it still is an evolving process of different calm down jars, stuffed animals, blankets, and books. All whatever she wants to be able to calm down. It hasn't truly been tested for a major meltdown. It definitely has been used in the ones she has had recently and it has seemed to really help her.

I am also hoping that in learning to use this spot she is also able to articulate when she needs to calm down or learning to catch herself before a meltdown and recognizing herself that she needs that extra soothing that the spot provides. We have not gotten there yet, but it's progress for her that she has not had a major meltdown since putting up the teepee and making the calm down spot.

Hopefully, you can make a spot for your child too, all they really need is the tools to be able to exceed and this is one that will make them more self-aware and aware of overwhelming feelings and situations which arise at any age. Might as well teach them now, rather than later when it's a harder habit to try to remedy.

So I will reiterate for you what all is included to make your own calm down spot, for your child.

What do you think, will this work for your child? Let me know in the comments below! 


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