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Creating a Calming Space to Ease Meltdowns

May 23, 2022

Are you looking for ways to keep your child calmer?  Kids with sensory processing issues like autism, ADHD, ODD, and SPD need targeted sensory input to be able to regulate. You may have heard this before.  It sounds good, but do you wonder how to give your child sensory input at home to help them to avoid meltdowns or to calm down more quickly after a meltdown or tantrum sets in?

Here are a few ideas! Set up a cozy sensory nook in your home.  Often parents do this in their child’s bedroom, but it can be in any peaceful corner in the home. The purpose of the cozy sensory nook is to give your child a place to regulate when he or she needs to take a break.  Put items in the corner like a soft blanket or weighted blanked.  Include a stuffed toy for squishing and cuddling.  Put a few drops of an essential oil your child enjoys on the stuffed toy or blanket. You can include headphones or ear plugs.  Or simply play soothing music in the room if it feels soothing to your child. Provide something to chew like a chewing necklace or gum. A lollipop or other hard candy is also helpful.  It is also important for your child to have fidgets to have something to do with their hands to release tension. When you are choosing items for your child’s sensory nook it is important that items are developmentally age appropriate. For example, a 3-year-old will not be able to use the same items as a 10-year-old.  If you are working with an occupational therapist, ask them for recommendations specific to your child’s needs. 

Taking your child to a cozy nook full of comfort items after a tantrum may sound counter intuitive.  You may be used to taking away comforts rather than giving them out after a tantrum. Think of it this way, your child’s brain is unregulated in these moments.  When your child is having a meltdown or tantrum, they cannot think logically, problem solve, or comprehend language well.  Use few words and empathy as you encourage your child to go to their sensory nook to calm down.  Once your child is calm and collected, then you’ll be able to teach her the lesson she may need to learn. 

Teaching your child how to use calming objects and quiet space to decompress will help him learn self-regulation skills over time.  Building in regulation to your daily routine will lesson the frequency of meltdowns and tantrums over time.   

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