When I created a calm down kit for our daughter, it was a turning point for all of us. It helped her in so many ways. It gave her tools and strategies to calm herself and help regulate her emotions. She is empowered. These suggestions of the best things to include in a calm down kit should be helpful for you to create your own.
It is important to note that what works best in a calm down kit for one child will not necessarily work for another. You’ll start to see in time what is most effective for your child.
It’s only once you’ve used the kit a number of times that you’ll get a sense of what items might not be necessary and even what type of things to perhaps include more of.
It’s important to teach your child to use the kit and “practise” using it when they are calm. During a meltdown or period of anxiety, a child can go into fight, flight, or freeze mode, making it difficult for them to make decisions and think logically.
Practising using the calm down kit during down times will enable them to know what things help in times of distress.
What to Include in a Calm Down Kit:
- calm down cards
- small container of bubbles
- weighted stuffed animal
- calm down bottle
- emotion cards
- weighted blanket or soft blanket
- playdough (this calming lavender playdough is perfect)
- noise cancelling headphones
- stress ball (easily make your own)
- water bottle with a chewable straw
- sound machine
- slime or silly putty
- Rescue Remedy
- I Spy wand
- favourite book or a book about feelings
- affirmations colouring book and crayons
- liquid motion bubble timer
- small framed photo of their family or beloved pet
- mini Etch-a-Sketch
- palm massager
- smell bottles
- textured sensory balls
- sensory bag
Lego Sensory Chew NecklaceNoise Cancelling HeadphonesConair Sound Therapy Sound MachineKids Rescue Remedy Natural Stress Relief DropsCrazy Aaron’s Thinking PuttyRetro Voyage Map KaleidoscopeWonder TubesLiquid Motion Bubble TimersPalm Massager
For younger kids, it is sometimes best to use pictures on the calm down prompt cards even if the child can read. If they are in a state of fight, flight, or freeze, reading will be difficult for them. The easier you make it, the better.
What to Include in a Calm Down Kit for Older Kids:
- anything from the list above
- calm down cards
- hard candies to suck on
- favourite book
- chewing gum
- Rubik’s cube
- bubble wrap (for popping)
- Big Life Journal
- colouring book and markers or pencil crayons
- weighted lap pad
- instant camera (for taking “selfies” to better understand their emotions)
- yoga pose cards
- journal and pen
- knitting or crocheting (for kids who know how to knit or crochet)
If possible, provide a quiet area in the home or classroom that the child can go to use their calm down kit. This could be a corner with a bean bag chair or exercise ball to sit on. One thing to keep in mind when making an anti-anxiety kit for your child is to personalize it. One way to do this is to consider their sensory preferences (ie: a child who is sensory avoidant for auditory would prefer noise cancelling headphones in their kits whereas a child who is sensory seeking for auditory would prefer an audiobook or harmonica in theirs).
Another way to personalize the kit is to consider what interests your child has and include those. If your child loves dinosaurs, you could include this dinosaur chew necklace, this dinosaur squeeze ball, this dinosaur sensory slap bracelet, and this dinosaur fidget.
Creating a personalized kit for each child is also a great way for them to feel known and special. You can choose any theme that suits them.
Get printable calm down cards to include in your kit.
Read about how we use our calm down kit and other tips here: