Years ago time-outs came into vogue as an alternative to spanking, but as research in child and family psychology and parenting techniques evolved, the modern generation of mamas is looking beyond punitive time-outs and more to how we can help kids find the time and place to find their calm.
That's why TikTok user, Maarte Mami is going mega-viral this week, because this mama stopped doing time outs and set up a "calming corner" for her son in her living room. It's a sensory experience, a soft rug with comfy pillows and toys he can use to center himself through relaxation and play.
"After about a year I made a choice to do away with time outs because there are such big emotions that lead up to timeouts, and it didn't seem effective to me to leave my son to sit alone with these big, scary emotions ," the TikToker explains.
Instead of time out being the consequence to a behavior, the calming corner (what some parents and child psychology experts refer to as a "time-in") allows her son to regulate his own emotions and behaviors in a healthy way.
"This gives him a super comfy, safe space as an outlet to reflect, center his mind, process his thoughts, and regulate his emotions. The calming corner allows him to do this because he can meditate, do breathing exercises, or just sit and relax and calm himself via the tools that appeal to his five senses."
As Montessori teacher Christina Clemer previously explained for Motherly , "Time-in removes a child from a situation or behavior just like a time out. The difference is that you stay with your child, rather than sending them away."
Family therapist Jessie Bohnenkamp also recommends time-ins, suggesting "when a child loses their cool, take them to a quiet space (their room, outside the restaurant, the car), and then simply let them vent their emotions.
A calming corner can be that quiet space for a child to have a time-in.
"The goal is to make the space soothing, so that it fosters concentration. They also have far fewer things, both on the walls and to play with—you may find a small shelving unit with two or three shelves and just a few items on each shelf, with plenty of space between each toy," says Clemer , who adds the corner can be "somewhere for your child to rest or recover from an upsetting moment. This is often a big floor pillow in a corner for a younger child. It could be a comfy chair by a window for an older child."
For the viral TikTok mama Maarte Mami the calming corner is a rug on the floor, but it could look different in your house. Whatever works for you and your child so that they have a space to find their calm.
Want to create a calming corner of your own? Here are some of our favorites that can help.
Ideal for solo quiet time or for learning the skills together and bringing them back to the calming corner in the future, these beautifully illustrated cards help little ones discover new ways to breathe, move, and use their senses and improve focus, build resilience and reduce anxiety.
Petting something soft and snuggly can help bring a sense of calm and relaxation to kids and adults alike. We love the buttery soft plush toys from the classic Mary Meyer which are just the right size for loving up in their calming corner or when out and about.
Memory games are ideal for taking time to chill while also building focus and concentration. The wooden hand-painted set from Modern Blocks keeps it simple without overwhelming.
Music making has been used as a way to relax and unwind since the beginning of time. Outfit your corner with kid-sized instruments that provide them with tech-free ways to explore touch and sound.
A calming corner wouldn't be complete without a super snuggly blanket to unwind under. The plush kiddo-sized throws from Sunday Citizen can be washed over and over and stay as soft and perfect as ever.
Woven baskets make it easy for kids to clean up after themselves and keep their calming corner clutter-free.
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