We all experience BIG feelings from time to time. As adults, we’re encouraged to practice ‘self-care’ and take a few quiet minutes to ourselves when we’re feeling overwhelmed. Chances are, if you’ve practiced this, you know it can work wonders! Well, guess what? That same strategy works for kids! Taking time to themselves in a cozy spot can dramatically increase their ability to stay calm and potentially avoid meltdowns.
What is a cozy spot?
It goes by many names: cozy corner, calm down space, a safe space, or even a zen den. The goal of this space is to be a safe, calming, quiet space children can go to when they need a break to self-regulate. It is NOT a time-out space or to be used as punishment. You do not send kids here to be isolated, it is a safe space where kids should want to go to when they feel BIG feelings arise. And good news, it works! The cozy spot has been proven to help kids control impulsive behavior, improve communication skills, better understand and positively cope with their emotions.
Keep in mind, kids do not act out because they want to. This occurs because they simply do not have the skills required to control their actions when overwhelmed with emotions. A cozy spot provides kids with the ability to practice these developing skills!
Get started to create your own!
1. Stock up on engaging and educational printables.
fit has created Cozy Spot fit-kits for all the kiddos in your life. Each kit is jam-packed with fun yet educational posters, activities, and more!
Click below to print your free printable kit today!
Little Learners Cozy Spot fit-kit (ages 2-5)
Big Learners Cozy Spot fit-kit (ages 6 +)
2. Sensory bin for the win!
Sensory activities can be incredibly soothing for littles. Stock up on play-doh, stress balls, fidget spinners, and quiet activities like puzzles and books! Use small bins or baskets to keep the space tidy and (somewhat) organized.
Create a Cozy Spot sign, or use our printable sign in the fit-kit! Crank up the cozy with floor cushions, colorful pillows, a stuffed animal, or fun wall art.
You’ve created the Cozy Spot, but now what?!
We recently sat down with Jessica Stokes, Senior Social Worker and Social Emotional Expert, with Sanford Children’s CHILD services and Brittney Nathan, CCLS with Sanford fit, to discover how caregivers can help their littles to use, and benefit from a Cozy Spot.
How would you talk to kids about the Cozy Spot?
According to Stokes, “Childcare providers or teachers: You can introduce this space and the resources inside it to children either individually or in a small/large group. If you have a circle time, start the discussion here!
Parents: Find uninterrupted time to sit down with your child to introduce them to the new space.”
“There is no right or wrong answer, just remember to keep it positive! Littles should never feel ashamed of their emotions or feel like they are being punished for feeling a certain way. It’s so important to teach kids that ALL feelings are okay”, Nathan said. “The Cozy Spot can help kids to discover that although their feelings are valid, negative reactions are not. Instead of reacting poorly, they can take a break in their special space!”
When should caregivers encourage kids to use the Cozy Spot?
“Anytime! I encourage parents and providers to start using this space and the resources within the fit-kit in neutral times when children are calm. This is the best time to practice and help children learn the skills they need for when strong feelings are present. Then when a child becomes upset, frustrated, or sad they will be more likely to use these resources appropriately,” said Stokes.
“At first, children won’t know how to use these resources appropriately. As a parent or provider, you will need to teach children about the resources, then model and practice ways to use them. It will take some time and practice until children begin to use the resources independently.”
“If you’re wondering how to gently encourage littles to use this space, here’s one example”, per Nathan.
“Kneel down to ensure you’re at the child’s level, and say “I see the corners of your mouth are turned down and your eyebrows are close together. If you are feeling mad, sad, or frustrated- that is okay! Would you like to go to your Cozy Spot and color a picture?”
In this example, you described what you saw, validated the child’s feeling, then gave the child the option to practice a healthy coping strategy.”
How would you use the fit-kit printables with kids?
“Make it a part of your daily routine”, emphasized Stokes.
As a provider, you could check in with each child as they get dropped off in the morning. “Good morning, Oliver! Should we check our poster to see how you’re feeling this morning?”
Or as a parent, you can make it a part of your daily bedtime or morning routine at home.”
“Practice the different faces on the Feeling Faces Poster. You can do this with or without a mirror. Practice all the feelings and what each of them looks and feels like. Point out the facial expressions, eyes, mouth, and other body parts that help to explain the feeling. “I see your hands are making fists and your mouth is frowning …”
“Play Find the Feeling Matching Game. For each match the child makes they must practice a calming choice. For example, a child matched the mad cards together and then can choose which calming choice to practice, for example, taking three deep breaths.””
“Use a puppet or stuffed animal to teach and practice the different calming choices on the Calming Choices Poster Pack. “Teddy is feeling frustrated because someone took his toy. He is going to count to 10 to help his body feel better. Let’s practice this with Teddy.””
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