Calm Down Box {Real and Virtual} & Calm Down Pass

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As I mentioned in my previous anger management post, I love using an anger thermometer as a tool in my individual sessions. It’s a great way for kids to measure their anger and learn how to control it. I use my own variation of this anger thermometer from One Stop Counseling Shop:


Read my post here to  see how I use this visual in a poster activity.

Another way I utilize the anger thermometer is to combine it with a calm down box and calm down pass.

The concept of calm down box is nothing new. Having a child fill a small box with items that will help diffuse his or her anger provides a coping skill that can be used once that child recognizes the need to calm down.

Just like my poster activity, I usually spend a session or two going over the different levels of anger, and we talk about the physical and emotional signs of “being a little mad,” “being angry, “needing a break,” and “being out of control”. The student will then work on recognizing when he or she reaches the stage of “needing a break {4},” and uses coping skills {such as the calm down box} before ever reaching a level 5 {out of control}. Once that is mastered, the student works at stopping at a 3, then a 2, each time doing something to diffuse the anger before it gets out of hand.

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Last year, I worked with a 1st grader who was having anger outbursts in the classroom and at home, and she LOVED making and using the calm down box. However, she felt uncomfortable taking the box out of her desk in front of her classmates, and she identified being embarrassed to ask her teacher if she could go into the hallway for a break {this had already been arranged with the teacher as an option}. After a little contemplation, I came up with the idea of a calm down card to go with her calm down box. I made a small card that said “I need a break,” laminated the card, and discussed my idea with the 1st grade teacher.

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We agreed that the student could simply hand the teacher the card any time she needed to with no questions asked. The teacher kept the student’s calm down box in a cubby next to the door {at the student’s request}, so that it could easily be taken into the hallway after the card was presented. Then, she was allowed 5 minutes to look through her box and compose herself in the hallway right outside of the classroom.

This arrangement worked beautifully for this particular child. This technique, paired with counseling sessions, helped her learn to control and properly express her anger. As a result, her conduct grade drastically improved, and she was no longer having those outbursts of anger at home or at school. It’s amazing how even 6 year olds can build up their coping skill set and see so much change within themselves!


Virtual Calm Down Box

Screen Shot 2016-01-01 at 3.30.59 PMMy own virtual calm down “box”

I’ve had older students who, for obvious reasons, did not want to carry a calm down box with them to class, so instead they made virtual calm down boxes. In order to do this, a student will create a document on Google docs with things that will calm him or her down. Since the file is in Google docs, the student can access it from any school computer and also at home. This year, grades 5-7 in my school went 1:1 with Chromebooks, so my middle school students can even open the document on their laptops whenever they need to use that coping skill. Pretty cool, right?

Well, that’s all I have for now. I hope some of these techniques help you in working with your students!


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