DIY Calm Down Bottle
Emotional regulation is all about how we cope with our feelings. Its not to be confused with “getting rid of” our feelings or trying to control them, rather its the way we act to either counteract certain feelings or to self soothe ourselves while we ride out an emotion. Being able to regulate their emotions gives our children a sense of confidence and improved resilience when dealing with big feelings or overwhelming siutations.
So how can we help our kids to feel calm if they are distressed?
Well one way is by creating a Calm Down Bottle. When I worked with kids in play therapy we often used to spend a session creating a personalised calm down bottle that they could then take home and use in between sessions. So what is a Calm Down Bottle and how is it going to help your child?
A calm down bottle is a plastic or glass bottle full of interesting and sensory objects. You can create a number of different bottles depending on your child’s needs and/or interests.
What you need:
A clean, empty plastic or glass water bottle with the label removed
Superglue (or a hot glue gun)
1/2 cup of corn syrup (optional)
Food coloring (optional)
Rice or sand (optional)
Small objects like beads, rocks, gems, figurines…anything that will fit through the nexk of your water bottle (optional)
Glitter Calm Down Bottle
Pour the corn syrup into the water bottle (using the funnel to add anything to the bottle) and tip in some glitter, probably 1/2 a cups worth. The glitter could be various shapes and colours. Essentially anything your child likes the look of. You can also add food colouring to the water for effect. Top up the water bottle with warm water (not quite to the top) and before you close the lid squirt in some hot glue, or super glue and then seal the lid shut. Leave it to set overnight.
Wave Calm Down Bottle
Fill an empty water bottle about a third full of warm water. Get your child to pick a colour and then add a few drops of appropriate food colouring. Wait for the food colouring to spread throughout the water and then fill the rest of the bottle with baby oil or cooking oil. Before adding the oil you could also tip in some glitter if you really wanted. Dont forget to glue the lid before you seal it!
Eye Spy Calm Down Bottle
Pop about 1/2 cup of rice or sand into the empty water bottle. Tip in some objects, like; plastic animals, lego pieces, gems or pebbles, shells etc. Anything really that will fit down the opening of your water bottle. Try to fill the bottle about 2/3 full with a combinationf od sand and objects. You can also dye the sand or rice prior to adding to the bottle. Once you have the objects in the bottle top it up with water and then seal the lid with glue.
Essentiality once the bottle is all finished it can be used in a number of ways:
To create a pause while they shake it up and then watch the objects in their calm down bottle. Pausing is important for children…well any of us really. When we pause it allows the prefrontal cortex in our brain to kick back into running the show. This is the part of the brain thats responsible for logic and reasoning. If we are in the middle of an emotion and reacting, it can be hard to think through consequences or the impact of our behaviours. So pausing is important in breaking the cycle of reacting automatically (which is sometimes not always the most constructive way of responding)
Allows you to use the bottle to talk about feelings. Ask your child to shake up the bottle really hard and tell you what they see. They will usually describe a “mess” or something like chaos. And so we ask them what happens if we wait, or if they dont know we ask them to watch their bottle while all of the objects settle back down. We can use this to tell a story about feelings. Sometimes we get really overwhelmed and our feelings get so confused and messy. But if we wait and give them time, every feeling eventually calms down again.
We can also use the bottle to talk about our thoughts when we are distressed. Use the same example as above, but talk about when we feel angry or worried sometimes our thoughts race away and get really tangled up. However if we pause and give them enough time to start calming down we can think clearly again.
So there you have it. a DIY Calm Down Bottle you can create at home. Not only will you have some fun getting crafty with your little one, you are supporting their emotional skill set at the same time!!
Until next time!