Children oftentimes need help learning how to regulate their emotions. Having a Cozy Corner can help with that process.
Create a Cozy Corner with a tent or blankets. Add pillows and a soft blanket, and maybe a heated rice bag if it is a cold day. This is a great space for a child to unwind after a long day. Here they can play quietly with dolls or stuffed animals, enjoy a book, or do some drawing. If they are feeling angry or upset and need to calm down, a Cozy Corner can aid in that process. Here are some ideas of what to include in your Cozy Corner:
Fat Crayons: Fat crayons are great because they can be used more roughly if a child is feeling some larger feelings. I encourage children to “color out their feelings” and assign their feelings different colors. So if they are using blue for anger, for example, they can color and scribble and draw with blue until the anger is all “colored out”, and then switch to another color that matches their new emotion. This activity helps children learn that they can work through their emotions in a variety of ways.
Books: These can include favorite picture books, a chapter book, art books, and books of poetry. We know that art is helpful for managing stress, anxiety, and depression, and looking through a book of artwork can be soothing.
Workbooks: We are fortunate these days to have workbooks for children and teens on a variety of helpful topics. Include workbooks about feelings and emotions and how to manage them.
Sketchbook: Include a basket with a sketchbook and pencils, colored pencils, crayons, pastels, or pens. Have a special set of a sketchbook and writing implements that stay in the Cozy Corner and your child can draw as a way to self-regulate. Age appropriate coloring books can also be soothing.
Journal*: Children can draw or write in a journal about how they are feeling, why they are feeling something, or anything else they want. For older children, I like to tell them about the ABC journaling technique. Simply write the letters of the alphabet down the left-hand side of the paper. At the top, create a title. For example, if the child is upset with a friend, the title may be that friend’s name. Then for each letter of the alphabet, they write down the first word that comes to them when they think about the topic at hand, feeling free to skip any letters if nothing comes to them. They continue to do this until they have no words left. Then they can look at the words and find any themes. This activity helps by teaching the child to “dump” all of their feelings out of their bodies and onto the paper.
*Note: There needs to be a genuine promise that the journal will never be read by anyone other than the author, unless the author gives explicit permission. Locking journals or journals with passwords can help.
Bubbles: A small container of bubbles is great for teaching breathing techniques. A favorite of mine is snake breathing, where you take a breath and slowly blow it out for as long as possible. Bubbles encourage control over breathing. A person cannot breathe too softly or strongly if they are going to produce any bubbles!
Stress ball: A small basket of stress balls and fidget toys can be nice. Stress balls are easy to make and can be a good project for a child. Just fill a balloon with rice, sand, or flour and tie it closed. I like to then pull another balloon over the first one just to give it some extra strength.
Snacks: Oftentimes children are out of sorts because they are hungry. Eating an apple or granola bar and having a drink of water can help.
Weighted blanket: Weighted blankets can help with relaxation. The blanket should weigh 10% of the person’s body weight, and then add 1-2 pounds as preferred. For a 100 pound person, the blanket should be between 10-12 pounds.
Weighted Dolls and Animals: Heavy baby dolls generally weigh 3-5lbs. These are cloth dolls stuffed with millet and wool and oftentimes dried herbs or essential oils such as lavender. They feel like carrying a real baby and children are oftentimes comforted by them. Weighted stuffed animals are another option. These toys are specifically designed to be warmed up in the microwave and are stuffed with a grain such as rice or millet and are also scented with lavender.
Audio: While I recommend avoiding screens in this area, access to soothing music or audio stories and books can be helpful.
Essential oils: An essential oil diffuser or a spray bottle with water and essential oils can help regulate a dysregulated person. Lavender is a favorite, but there are many others to learn about. Please note that essential oils are typically not meant for ingesting.
Candle: Responsible children may enjoy lighting a candle and enjoying the flicker of the flame. Please make sure your child is well educated about fire safety before including this option.
Indoor water fountain: The sound of running water is relaxing for many of us. An indoor fountain or bubbler can be a nice addition.
Your Cozy Corner does not need to be elaborate and can be successful with only a handful of these options. So have fun designing one for your child or even for yourself!