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How to Use Your Calm-Down Kit at Home

Posted by Stacy Dervin on

This post will explain more about the items you will find in your kit, and how you can use them at home with your children.

Your Calm-Down Kit as a Tool, not a Toy

There are certain items in our classroom that our teachers say are "tools, not toys". That means we don't make these materials available all the time for child to play with. First, it creates a scarcity effect that makes kids so excited to play with it. Second, you want to use it sparingly so that the items can stay effective for helping your child calm-down. Finally, try to keep all of the items together in the basket and place in a spot in your home that is easily accessible. 

Introducing Your Child to the Kit

You should first introduce the kit and the items inside to your child when they are already calm. This is really important because children learn best when their whole brains are firing.
 
When children are upset, a stress response triggers fight-or-flight chemicals in their brain, which means their lizard brains have completely taken over and they are unable to process new information or learn lessons. (Learn more about this effect here: https://www.themontessorinotebook.com/summary-of-the-whole-brain-child/)
 
Tell your child how they next time they are really upset and need help calming down, you will pick a spot for them to sit with this kit, and give them some time to independently (or with your help) look through the items. Try to use the same spot all the time to make the experience more routine and comfortable. 

Take 5 Deep Breaths First

First bring out the pinwheel or the bubbles, and walk your child through taking 5 deep breaths. This should be the first step every time they sit with the kit. Deep breaths immediately starts to calm the nervous system and helps bring your child out of that stressed state. Next, feel free to allow your child to play with the other sensory materials.
 

Help Them Identify Their Feelings 

Bring out the feelings identification card. Now that your child is more relaxed, they should be able to point to or tell you how they were feeling right before they got upset. Try to repeat what they tell you so they know they've been heard. Parent: "Oh, you were feeling angry because your sister took your toy and you weren't done playing with it yet". Introduce them to new feelings if they don't already know the meanings. (Here is a handout with more info on this!)

Help Them Problem Solve

Work together to come up with ideas for how to handle the stressful situation next time. Some common solutions include:
• Ask for help.
• Say “Please stop.”
• Wait and take turns.
• Get a timer.
• Ask for a hug.
• Take a break.
• Say, “Will you play with me?”
• Share.
• Use kind words.
(Source for above: National Center for Pyramid Model Innovations, www.challengingbehavior.org)
 
Please let us know if you have any questions or comments below on how to use your kit! 
Best of luck to you and your family! We hope this tutorial and our kit are helpful.

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