The Feeling Better Place
A Feeling Better Place is different than a traditional time-out. With a traditional time-out, when children misbehave, parents send children to a time-out place and children need to stay in that place for a specified time period, usually one minute for each year of the child’s age, and they may be asked to be quiet for the last 15 seconds of the time-out. With a Feeling Better Place, instead of the parents sending children to time-out for misbehaviour, children take a break when they feel themselves escalating emotionally and they realize they might be losing control. Children can self-initiate or they can be gently reminded by parents to go to their room or to some other place to do an activity that is calming. Children then decide when to come out of the Feeling Better Place when they feel sufficiently calmed down and composed. The goal of the Feeling Better Place is to help children learn emotional self-regulation skills.
Parents can help children decide on where to locate their Feeling Better Place. A Feeling Better Place should be somewhere a child can go without being disturbed or distracted by a sibling, which may require you to be creative in coming up with how to do this. Parents can also help children decide on some activities to do in their Feeling Better Place that will help them to decrease their angry, frustrated, or upset feelings.
Activities that would be appropriate for children to do in a Feeling Better Place generally fall under four categories: expressing and releasing feelings, relaxing, distraction, and problem-solving. Below are some ideas for activities you can suggest for your child; you and your child will likely come up with more ideas as well.
It is a good idea to make a list with your child of different activities that will help your child feel better. You can call them Feeling Better Activities. Another idea is to draw or write each activity on a piece of paper and collect all the activities in a box, called a Feeling Better Box. It is fun to add to this list or box over time as you and your child collect more self-regulation activities.
Expressing and releasing feelings:
- Draw a picture that shows how you feel.
- Do jumping jacks.
- Dance to music.
- Shout into a pillow.
- Make a Problem Box so that you can draw or write about each problem or worry you have and put it in the box.
- Make a chart that matches different colors with different feelings. Choose what you are feeling and draw a picture using those colors.
- Listen to relaxing music.
- Take at least 10 deep breaths slowly in and out and notice how you feel with each breath you take.
- Blow slowly into a pinwheel to make it spin slowly. See how slowly you can make it spin.
- Draw a picture that makes you feel happy.
- Imagine being somewhere or doing something you like. Get a picture of that in your mind, notice the good feelings, and make the good feeling strong by tapping gently on your knees or shoulders. Then take a deep breath in and out.
- Squeeze various parts of your body (such as your hands, face, shoulders, tummy, legs, feet) tight for 5 seconds, then breathe out and relax those body parts so they feel soft and floppy. Notice how different your body feels when it is tight and tense, or if is soft and relaxed.
- Make up a story with some of your toys.
- Make up a game.
- Do a craft activity.
Thinking about solving a problem:
- Look at some pictures of feelings faces and figure out what you are feeling so that you can tell someone what you are feeling when you come out of your Feeling Better Place.
- Think about some ideas of how you can make things better or how others can make things better so you can tell someone your ideas after you come out of your Feeling Better Place.
- Think about who you are going to tell your feelings and ideas to.
Note: these problem-solving activities will only work if your child has someone to talk to about feelings and ideas when he or she comes out of her Feeling Better Place. Remember when your child tells you about his or her feelings and ideas to not criticize these feelings or ideas. You can always acknowledge your child’s feelings and ideas, but you do not have to agree to all your child’s ideas. This is a good time for you to suggest and practice a more appropriate response by your child for future situations.
Parents will need to help their children, especially at first, to understand and carry out these activities. It is okay for parents to be with their children in the Feeling Better Place at first and especially if the child is very young. The goal for parents will be to teach their children these self-regulation activities so that in time, children will be able to do these activities on their own. The younger the child, the more time and support they will need from their parents to learn these self-regulation strategies. Children need much support and coaching by parents to learn these strategies and are really unable to learn them on their own.
Copyright Kathy Eugster, 2015. All Rights Reserved.
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