Have you ever just got so mad at your child that you put your child in a time out because if you didn’t you’d lose it! Yup been there. Just wanted to either pull out my hair or give him a smack on the behind. Neither way is an effective long term solution. We as parents need to release our feelings as does your child, in a healthy way. We also need to disconnect for abit so we can reconnect and repair the situation and deem it then to be a learning experience.
If we don’t learn how to release our emotions in a healthy way, our body and mind will rebel. I recently read in the National Institute of Mental Health that 25% of children between 13-18 years of age experience anxiety disorders.
Approximately 10% of children were diagnosed with depression before the age of 18years, NOT experiencing depression BUT diagnosed with depression.
The Center of Disease Control reported 1 in 25 children between the ages of 12-18 are on anti-depression medication and 1 in 10 adults are on anti-depressants, that’s roughly 10% of the US population are struggling with how they feel every day. As they say, Stress is the Silent Killer.
So here is one of many strategies you can use early on in your child’s life that you can use to help both yourself and your child deal with your BIG emotions in a healthy way. Sometimes keeping your emotions in check, we need to step back, breath and as an adult use a mommy timeout! When this is the case what should you do with your child? Here is a great way to cool off and give your child a chance to do that, as well, without emotionally harming you or your child and vice-versa.
I invite you to create a soothing area for your child so you can walk away and give yourself five minutes of self-empathy, take 3 minutes to just breathe, drink a glass of water or wash your face.
Benefits Of A Soothing Area
A soothing area is a space where kids can go to calm down safely and collect themselves when they are upset. It is not meant to be used as a punishment. When done correctly, sending a child to a soothing area can teach them how to:
- self-soothe and calm down on their own
- take a break when they are angry, sad, frustrated, and/or anxious
- think about how their thoughts and feelings impact their behaviors
How To Use A Soothing Area
- Explain the soothing area to your kids. Let them know what it is for, how to use it, and what your expectations are. Discussing the soothing area with kids prior to them using it ensures that when they have to use it, they will know what to do.
- Send kids to the soothing area BEFORE they melt down. Many parents are usually good at sensing when their child is on his/her way to having a meltdown. If you notice signs that your child is nearing their frustration limit, send them to the soothing area, and give yourself some self-empathy.
- Discuss any triggers you notice with your child. Parents naturally do a great job of ‘reading’ their kids. If you notice that your child is on the verge of a meltdown, share that information with them. I can hear you and your sister are about to have a big argument. Why don’t you go to the soothing area and think of a solution so you can both play with the doll house.
When children are aware of their triggers they can begin to tune into their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors and ask for a break on their own. You don’t want your kids to always rely on you to be their emotional compass. You want them to develop skills that will help them regulate themselves on their own.
- Set a timer. Determine how long you want your child to remain in the soothing area. I recommend between five to ten minutes. (Usually 1 minute per the age of your child).You don’t want your soothing area to turn into a play area. Once your child settles down they should leave the soothing area.
- Once you and your child calms down, your child will be more responsive to listening to your corrective disciple or setting the limit that you need them to learn. I recommend discussing this with your kids prior to them leaving the soothing area. Having this discussion will help your child to process their thoughts and feelings about what led to them needing to use the soothing area.
How To Set Up A Soothing Area
You don’t need much to set up a soothing area in your home.
Step 1: Designate a location for the soothing area.
The space chosen should allow for very little distraction. You want kids to focus on calming down and not on what is going on around them. Bright lights, should be avoided, and strong odors can make it difficult for kids to relax.
Step 2: Create a warm, soothing atmosphere.
Decorate the space with bean bags, soft pillows, blankets, stuffed animals. If this is not feasible, any comfy chair or mat will do.
Step 3: Add soothing materials to the area
Keep materials to a minimum. Having too many activities to choose from can further frustrate and overwhelm the child.
Materials can include:
• Playdough • Bubbles
• Squeeze toys • Sensory balls
• Books • Coloring materials