When children are experiencing emotional overwhelm, it is essential to help them work through this with first finding tools to calm. Rational thinking is developing below a surface of impulsive charges reacting to a surge of emotions that is their coping mechanism. Once a state of calm has been achieved, effective communication and problem-solving can take place in a connected matter between parent and child.
Through emotional regulation practices, we can teach children how to recognise and accept their emotions as being okay and normal, while working through problem-solving and methods of grounding. It is important to not shame children for feeling raw emotions but to let them know that even adults have emotional struggles and that it is okay. We work through them. Calm baskets are a great tool to assist children in soothing, to find a fresh perspective, and encourage a growth mindset.
A calm basket is essentially a bundle of items that can assist your child in comfort. I'm going to show you what we have in our calm basket and how these items are beneficial in soothing children. As children become familiar with their calm basket and explore what they feel benefits them the most, they will be able to better self-soothe.
What is in our calm basket?
A Crystal - A rough chunk of crystal. We use rose quartz for love. Children can hold their crystal for comfort.
A Shell - Listening to the ocean in a shell is a magical experience for children and this can help shift attention to something peaceful to lower the emotional response they may be feeling.
I Spy Jar - I spy jars shift focus to finding objects in a game that doesn't place any value on competition or points, which can further heighten upset emotions.
Create your own I Spy jar with our tutorial here.
Lavender sachet - Handmade calming lavender sachets to hold and smell.
Follow our tutorial here to make your own.
Affirmation cards - Whether you have a set of affirmation cards or would like to make your own, these are particularly useful for a growth mindset. Reminding children of their qualities and capabilities, that they are safe and loved, that others believe in them and they can believe in themselves.
Affirmation Cards pictured are available from our store here.
Try our Recycled Paper Affirmations tutorial or other creative DIY affirmation cards.
Search and find books - Another game of sorts where children are able to find objects/characters with no suggested competition or points, with focus. These have worked very well for my children 3-8 as they enjoy the challenge and calm during the process, feeling ready to talk once they are done looking for objects. With my youngest is becomes a connected experience as we look together and talk about what we see in the pages.
Children's essential oil - My children use the ECO Aroma ECO littles peaceful rollerball blend, putting a little on their wrists, rubbing them together and taking two deep breaths as they smell it.
Labyrinth - Our sturdy wooden labyrinth is from Growing Kind. You can also see our tutorial to make your own clay version here.
Meditation spiral - A meditation spiral can be used from breathing exercises tracing with a finger (much like a labyrinth) or placing objects down in the spiral such as petals, small seed pods, small leaves or pebbles.
Follow our tutorial here to make your own.
A Journal - A great outlet for children to express their emotions is through drawing their feelings or writing about them.
Breathe Like a Bear book - This book offers many different ways for children to meditate, do breathwork, and release emotional build-ups.
This book is available in our store.
Ultimately you can add anything you'd like to meet your child's needs. Look at objects that support emotional regulation and don't over-stimulate. Some people add other sensory objects such as stress balls, fidget objects.
Other calm basket ideas
- A story book to read together or novel for older kids.
- A favourite soft toy for comfort.
- Emotion cards (from Ark and Luna)
- Big Life Journal has journals and other resources to suit a range of ages including teens.
Creating a space (also known as a calm corner) in your house to keep the basket in can also provide a familiar space for children to feel safe in. This space could include some floor cushions, a blanket, perhaps access to some calming music/sounds when needed.
Generation Mindful has a range of wonderful products that can help in creating a calm corner such as their Time-in tool kit that nurtures social and emotional skills in children through mindfulness, child-led play, and positive discipline.