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How to Create a "Calm Down Box"

Updated on August 21, 2015

Why Create a Calm Down Box

We found it very necessary to create some type of distraction tool for our Little Man when he becomes upset or frustrated. His nature is to go from zero to sixty in, well, zero seconds. His Kindergarten teacher was completely surprised at how quickly he escalated.

Through all of my research (which was simply googling key words like “ADHD and Autism”) I came across a number of articles that talked about a Calm Down Box. It sounded like a life-saver to me. Each can be tailored to your specific child. And once you put one together you will be changing it over time, as your child gets older and his/her needs change.

Here are the steps I took in creating our “Calm Down Box”:

It's such a relief to know I have another tool in my "box of tricks" to help my family.

— Living With Real Joy

Step 1: Find a Box

Find a bin or box. You can be as elaborate or simple as you’d like. I used an old toy bin we still had (which was a plastic dishwashing bin). I washed and dried it and it was ready to go.

Items for Your Box

Items at Home
Items to Make
Items to Buy
calm down jar
therapy putty
bubble wrap
weighted lap pad
squeeze balls
favorite books
sensory fidgets
sensory brushes

Step 2: What to Include in the Box

Research different ideas for your calm down box. Use a search engine (Google is my search engine of choice) and enter keywords such as “calm down box” or “calm down bin”. If your child has certain sensory issues that help calm him you may want to research those specifically.

Step 3: Make a List

Make a list of the different items you could use in your box. My research came up with many different items – therapy putty, weighted blankets, sensory balls, sensory brush, playdough, bubble wrap, essential oils, squeeze toys, etc.

Step 4: Choose Items From Your List

From this list decide what you can use that you already own. Most of what is in our calm down box we already had in our home.

Then choose items you can create yourself. Below is a link to a "Calm Down Jar" that my daughter and I created at home.

Next choose what you need to buy. I purchased some squeeze balls from Amazon. They were not expensive and they have been more than worth it.

Step 5: Time to Create!

Create your Calm Down Box! Place everything that you have collected, made yourself or purchased in the box.

Show your child the Calm Down Box, when he is in a good mood. I cannot stress how important this is. When I try to explain something to my son or daughter and they are out of sorts, it’s a disaster and can quickly escalate into a meltdown.

— Living With Real Joy

Step 6: Create a "Time-Out" Card

This can be a card you create or an item that you and your child agree on that will be used when he is in need of a break. I learned this tip from our Occupational Therapist. One of the items we’re working on is helping our son with self-regulation and his emotions. Eventually he needs to learn to take himself out of an emotionally charged situation before it becomes a meltdown. His card is a step in helping him do that. Also if he’s so upset he won’t listen to me when I speak to him, I can simply give him the card and he knows it’s time for a break.

Step 7: Most Important Step of All!

Show your child his "Calm Down Box", when he is in a good mood. I cannot stress how important this is. When I try to explain something to either our son or our daughter and they are out of sorts, it’s a disaster and can quickly escalate into a meltdown.

Have Fun!

Have fun making your own Calm Down Box! It was so relieving when I felt like I had another “tool in my box of tricks” to help our family.


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