When our little Princess has 'yucky feelings' (especially when she feels irritable or angry), she can get out her Calm Basket. Inside we have put her Calm Jar (read on, and I'll tell you all about it!), a special colouring in book with special crayons and stickers, a less-messy kid-friendly version of a Zen garden in a wooden box along with some odds and sods, and some natural items like shells, feathers, gumnuts, etc.
The purposes of the colouring book, stickers and crayons is obvious; the natural objects are simply soothing to touch, and Eden can explore ways to play with them herself (totally open-ended!).
|Miss E. tickling herself with a feather. So relaxing!|
Now for the gorgeous Calm Jar. Many of you may have already seen these floating around on the Net, and if so please jump on ahead, there's nothing original in my version! If not, the thought behind the Calm Jar is that when your child feels negative emotions they shake the jar making the glitter swirl around (representing the negative emotions). Your little one watches the glitter swish and settle to the bottom of the jar (the negative emotions are calming down) and as they do so, they begin to soothe themselves. Whether or not you explain this part to your child, it can't be denied that there is something very calming in this strategy. It's mesmerising - even to me! - like watching a lava lamp, or an aquarium, or a water feature.
If you want to try this out for yourself, get yourself a decent-sized jar because the small ones won't be big enough to really be able to see the glitter move around: we used glass because I think that tactile element of glass is a bonus (she's supervised when she uses it), but you could always use a plastic peanut butter jar instead. Fill the jar with warm - not boiling! - water, and squeeze 1-2 tubes of glitter glue into the water, then mix really, really well. You do actually need to use glitter glue in order to get the right viscosity; if you just used glitter on its own, it would swirl for a only few seconds before very quickly settling to the bottom. We used purple and gold glitter glue (Eden's choices), and found the mix to be just about right. It takes about 3-4 minutes for all of the glitter to settle to the bottom, which is a good amount of time for a young child's attention span.
|What our jar looks like when it's been shaken|
|Eden dubbed it her "Sparklish Jar"|
There is something very tactile about this activity which helps to soothe agitated children, and there is also enough in that wooden box to occupy her so that she is no longer thinking about her 'yucky feelings' and can just enjoy and relax.
If you decide to try any of these ideas, I wish you every success! Please bear in mind, nothing will always work. Children are every bit as emotionally complex as adults are, and there is no magic pill for adults or children having a bad day. It has however proven to be a valuable resource for us in teaching Eden how to regain control of her emotions, and to give her an outlet at those times. I hope you have gotten some ideas for your own family, and would love to hear back from anyone with other ideas to share!
Thanks for reading! ~ L.