Creating a Quiet Space for Kids
Most children can benefit from a quiet space, a cozy corner where they can go when they are sad, when they need down time with a book, or simply need alone time. This is especially true for toddlers and preschoolers who are learning to control their behaviors and emotions and are more prone to temper tantrums. And most beneficial for our almost 3-year old son. A recent preschool evaluation revealed that Owen shows some signs of sensory processing immaturity, which means that he struggles taking in all the activity around him and determining the proper behavior to express. For example, Owen often gets irritable and defiant in situations where he does not feel in control, during transitions, and when he is tasked with something new. He also gets overly excitable after engaging in exercise or movement activities and struggles to gain control over himself in high stimulation situations.
One of the recommendations from the early childhood special educator is creating a quiet space for him – at preschool and at home. For children like Owen, quiet spaces or cozy corners are a safe “time out” place to go when they feel overwhelmed. Here, children can regain control during high-stress situations and can help them redirect themselves to a calm, focused activity.
Creating a quiet space for kids doesn’t have to be complicated or elaborate. In fact, most therapists recommend using an old cardboard box. Here are a few other suggestions.
Creating a Cozy Space for Children
- Use a cardboard box or set-up a contained area that is private yet easily accessed
- Fill with soft blankets, a pillow, stuffed animals
- Add books, a basket of manipulatives for sorting, counting or building
Encouraging Kids to Use a Quiet Space
There are many ways to introduce and teach children when to use their cozy corner. Here is a simple two-step process:
1. Include your child in building and decorating the quiet space. Let him climb in and out and choose several favorite toys. Spend time together reading a book, pretending with a stuffed animal, or sorting through manipulatives. Be sure to keep the experience positive and not force it if your child isn’t quite ready to fully engage.
2. Once your child is familiar with the space, take note when she begins to become overstimulated or engage in inappropriate behavior. Use a quiet voice and simple language to say, “This seems like a good time to visit your Cozy Corner.” As much as possible, try to take action prior to escalation for a more proactive approach. It’s a good idea to rotate out toys and books over time to keep the space interesting.
I’ll be creating a quiet space for Owen this weekend. I’d love to get to the day when we have one of these Pinterest-worthy spaces but, for now, we’ll keep it simple.