Creating a Calm Down Box

The idea of a calm down bin for kids is a fantastic concept that has been around for a while. I have a calm down box in my play room and I am always looking for new ideas on how to build these with my clients. Personal side note: my “calm down box” involves a warm bath, candles, glass of wine, and spa CD, but kids don’t necessarily go for that!

When to use:

These are perfect for encouraging your child to calm down from a tantrum, occupy themself while waiting for something (say lunch), or anytime they feel frustrated, angry, or even sad. Everything in your box should represent a positive and acceptable means of managing emotions.

There are a couple of blogs that recently highlighted the calm down box idea- Here We Are Together and Positive Parenting. They offer some good descriptions on putting together your boxes.

What to Include:

Calm down boxes should contain items that appeal to the senses (or you may hear the phrase “sensory toys”). Basically, toys that feel good to look at, touch, smell, and hear.

  • rice bin
  • glitter bottle
  • soft pillow and blanket
  • squeeze toys
  • playdough
  • sensory (textured) balls
  • calming music

Items that focus attention are also good to include.

  • books
  • rubix cube
  • coloring materials

And items that encourage deep breathing.

  • bubbles
  • pinwheels

Make Your Own Items!

For some homemade items (great for activities in session too), check these out:

Sensory Balloons

Homemade Kaleidoscope

Homemade Playdough

Sensory Bottles

Pinwheel Craft

Colorful Rice Sensory Bin

The homemade items are half the fun of putting these boxes together. These activities encourage creativity and personalization into each item. Kids love to know they can use something them made by hand!

As always, questions/comments/suggestions are welcomed!

You May Also Like:

Deep Breathing
All Tied Up With Worry

Author: Kim Peterson, MA, LPC-S, RPT

Kim is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Clinical Supervisor, and Registered Play Therapist in Dallas, Texas.

13 thoughts on “Creating a Calm Down Box”

  1. hi kim i feel great to read and learn about your work ,my name is ahmad ,i am also a counselor from pakistan,i am particularly working for children effected by sucide bombings and terrorism,i found these techniques miracleous,god bless you,i need your help in my mission,thanks.ahmad

  2. I am looking for some coping ideas for kids, but more in the moment, ie. during games and athletics. We are having a over competitive and very self critical time with our son.

    1. Hi Lori. This is a great question and a common problem to address. Using deep breathing and cognitive reframing can help when someone needs immediate relief. However, these skills still need to be taught and practiced so they come more naturally in the time of need. Using a calm down box can encourage this practice time, as well as participation with parents. When you are all heated and in a stressful moment, get everyone to practice taking deep breaths, or at least be a model for using the skill when you are angry. Hope this answers your question and thanks for reading! 🙂

  3. I really like this idea! I think I would add a nice picture book to flip through. That has been one of my little guy’s (now four years old) favorite ways to relax when he is upset or sad.

    I’m sharing this post around! 🙂

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