Calm down wheel
Have you ever told a child, “You need to calm down.”? I know I have, many times. You may have one or many hyperactive children in your group. Even if you don’t, the concept of “calming down” remains abstract for young children. They hear your request, but they are left wondering how they can comply. Very few young children can express the fact that they don’t know what they can do to “calm down”. Dealing with overexcitement or feeling as if children just aren’t respecting your requests are therefore common. The solution? You must provide children with accessible methods they can use.
I often tell parents and early childhood educators that taking the time to teach children methods is the foundation required for rules to be respected. As adults, we tend to repeat the same requests countless times, thinking children will eventually integrate them.
Learning to calm down is among the many abilities children must develop. Teaching them various means they can use when you signal for them to calm down or when they personally feel the need to bring their energy level down is important.
To help you intervene, we have created a “Calm down wheel” you can use with your group. Follow the steps below to make this new tool work for you.
(Open calm down wheel) Print and laminate the wheel. Cut both circles out. To assemble your wheel, set the smaller wheel on the larger one, lining up the centre of both circles. Insert a fastener in the centre.
You must be able to turn the smaller circle to see the method chosen by a child to calm down in the window. Introduce the wheel gradually, respecting three levels.
- Use the wheel for a child. To begin, present the wheel (ideally at a time when everyone is calm). When a child needs to calm down, take the wheel and turn the upper circle to discover different methods that may be used. Pick one and apply it.
- Use the wheel with a child. Here, your group is familiar with the wheel. A child who needs to calm down can therefore use the wheel with your help. Let him choose the method he prefers. Simply act as a guide.
- Let a child use the wheel on his own. Your group can now use the wheel without your help. Leave the wheel out where children can use it when necessary. If a child needs to calm down (or if you ask a child to calm down), he can turn the wheel, select a method, and apply it.
Keep in mind that learning to use a new tool like the “Calm down wheel” may take time. The integration period will vary per your interventions and the children in your group. Be patient and gradually work towards children being able to use the tool independently.
Enjoy experimenting with the “Calm down wheel”.
Maude Dubé, Specialized educator