How a soothing box can help your child feel safe or calm

A soothing box can help your child feel safe, relaxed and grounded. The box should contain items that are fun to touch, see, listen to, taste, smell or move about.

Playing with these objects will help stimulate your child’s senses. It can help them learn to how to notice, name and manage their emotions.

Make a soothing box

You can make a soothing box from a shoe box, storage box or container. Spend some time together decorating the box with paint or craft materials to make it special.

Think about what items to put in the soothing box. Be playful in how you explore what makes your child feel relaxed. For example:

  • Rub different lotions and creams into their hands.
  • Put some tactile items in a sack – ask your child to pull them out with their eyes closed and guess what they are.
  • Draw a picture or make a collage from magazines – look for pictures that reflect ideas of calm, positivity and strength.

Learning what your child responds to means their box will be individual to them.

What can you include?

Try different items to see how your child responds and what helps them feel calmer. Make sure the items you choose are safe for your child’s age. You could try:

  • Things to organise or count (pebbles, coins, buttons).
  • Things to safely bite, chew or suck (chewy bracelet, sucking sweets or straws).
  • Puzzles.
  • Soft or crunchy materials (velvet, bubble wrap or Velcro).
  • Feathers and cotton wool balls.
  • Stress balls.
  • Bean bags.
  • Slime.
  • Hand cream.
  • Face wipes.
  • Weighted items (eye pillow, blankets or balls).
  • Cards with breathing exercise reminders or mindfulness activities.
  • Bubbles and balloons.
  • Comforting smells, perfume, scented pens or paper.
  • Playdough or aroma doh.
  • Soothing music or wind chimes.
  • Shells.
  • Nail polish.
  • Body, nail or hair brushes.

How to use the soothing box

Encourage your child to practise exploring the items in their soothing box when they’re calm. Have your soothing box in a handy place, that is easy to get to when you need it.

With time, your child can start using their soothing box when they’re upset. Prompt them to explore their box during these moments. If you want, join in with using the items inside. Together, you’ll get to know which objects help soothe your child.

When your child is calm, reflect on what worked and how they feel now. This will help them understand their emotions and what helps them to manage them.

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This advice was written by our experienced Parent Talk coaches. Parent Talk is a free online service for parents and carers, provided by the charity Action for Children. For more advice, message our parenting coaches with our online chat.

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