Did you hear my director giving me instructions in the back? Not to mention the sniffles (haha!)
Anyway, I'm thankful for society's intense, intentional push to wellness-ify our lives and abolish the stigma of sharing and struggling with negative emotions.
I'm most thankful for the fact that it's trickling down to our kiddos. Let's be honest, though. Most kids are well aware that something is off with the level of stress and anxiety in their lives; they just don't know how to address it. That's where calm-down bottles come in. (I left the best for last, so read all the way through.)
A calm-down bottle helps your kiddos (of all ages) identify difficult thoughts and feelings and provides a sensory strategy to support the calming-down process. Let my student explain his process in the video below.
In a nutshell, our students learn to identify negative emotions as well as their intensity. They then utilize strategies to calm down, such as deep breathing until the content of the shaken bottle settles at the bottom. Finally, they reassess the intensity of their emotions after using their strategies and decide whether they're calm enough to continue or need to try their strategies again; repeat as needed.
Prepare to Bottle-up Your Feelings
The more YouTube videos you watch, the more ideas you'll get; calm-down bottles are more popular than you'd think. Here are some of our suggestions to get you started.
(Amazon affiliate links)
Glitter glue: https://amzn.to/2UoEzK8
Food coloring: https://amzn.to/2CdoRud
Glitter in different shapes and sizes:
Pom poms and googly eyes: https://amzn.to/2C6BhEb
Gorilla glue: https://amzn.to/2CcTdgq
Book 'Moody Cow Meditates': https://amzn.to/2UAEnL2 (I'll explain later why this book is on the list. For now, keep reading.)
Below are some of our favorite how-to videos to make the bottles, in class or at home. What makes them our favorites? They're easy to follow and they give some great insider tricks. Let's watch!
FYI, these are the steps we use to make the bottle during tutoring sessions.
Mix-in glitter glue until it dissolves.
Let the water cool down.
Fill up two-thirds of the bottle.
Add the decorations (e.g., glitter, pom poms, googly eyes, food coloring, etc.). Mix them up a few times throughout this process to see how it's coming along.
Add water to fill the rest of the bottle (leave some space at the top to prevent spilling).
Add clear glue to slow down the glitter, as needed.
Seal the lid with Gorilla glue.
We Step It Up When We Bottle-up
For those of you who've met me, you know that I wouldn't write a blog post to just share a bottle recipe. This is where the magic starts.
Before we make the bottle, we first read the book Moody Cow Meditates (see video below). Readers get a clear picture of the domino effect of negative emotions and are instructed to drop those emotions into the bottle in the form of glitter (FYI, I use pom poms for the very upsetting thoughts and emotions due to their size and the fact that they often stay afloat at the top of the bottle).
Another piece of the magic is family. I generally make the bottle during a tutoring session, which includes at least one family member. I've had younger brothers in the session (they're great at reminding my students of every single time they had a meltdown the prior week). I also have parents make their own bottles with us. The value in this latter interaction is that parents get to hear their kids talk about stressful situations when their defenses are down (they're so focused on glitter color that they don't realize what they're sharing). Can't tell you the amount of times parents have pulled me aside after sessions to say 'I had no idea he was thinking about that'.
Whether you use a calm-down bottle, deep breathing, counting backwards from 10, or building a Lego fort to calm down, it's important for our kiddos to get to know themselves and to acquire the skills necessary to cope with life's unexpected difficulties. Why? Because, no matter how many times we tell them it's gonna be alright, they need to deal with days when it's not.
They can learn how, today.
Calm-down bottles are just one component in our Feelings Kit. Click here to check out our break-time, self-regulation, and mindfulness tools.