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

A soothing box can help your child feel safe, relaxed and grounded. It works by stimulating their senses. It contains items that are fun to touch, see, listen to, taste, smell or move about. It helps children access their ‘thinking brain’ and learn to notice, name and regulate their emotions.

arts and crafts kit

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 are calming, positive and strength focused.

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

What can you include?

You can try different items to see how your child responds and what helps them feel calmer. For example:

  • Things to organise or count (pebbles, coins, buttons).
  • Things to safely bite, chew or suck (chewy bracelet / sucking sweets / straws).
  • Puzzles.
  • Soft or crunchy materials (velvet / bubble wrap / Velcro).
  • Feathers and cotton wool balls.
  • Stress balls.
  • Bean bags.
  • Slime.
  • Hand cream.
  • Face wipes.
  • Weighted items (eye pillow / blanket / ball).
  • 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 using the items in their soothing box when they’re calm. You can use role play too, and practise using them together. Have your soothing box in a handy place, that is easily accessible when you need it.

With practise, your child can start using their soothing box when they’re upset. Prompt them to explore their box during these times, and join in using the items inside. Together, you’ll get to know which items help.

When your child is calm and regulated, notice with them what worked, and how they feel. This will help them understand their emotions and the capacity they have to manage them.

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