Behavior Improvement Strategies / Moral Boosting Strategies

Cool-Down Area

What it is: A strategy for helping kids recover from an emotional breakdown

Who it’s for: Teachers of students who are prone to disruptive, emotional outbursts

What you’ll need: Duct tape//preferably colored

My wonderful principal suggested this idea to me a few years ago and it has helped many of my students.

  • Take your student aside whenever they are in a good emotional state to have a conversation. Tell them something like this, “Feeling sad or angry is OK and it happens sometimes. If there is a time that you are sad or angry and you need to be upset or cry at school, I want to give you a safe place to do that. This will be called your cool-down area and you can use it when you need to cool down. Come with me and we’ll make it together.”
  • Ideally, the area will be outside of the classroom. I have used an adjoining room, the ramp outside my portable, or the cafeteria. Take the duct tape and have the student choose an area within the designated space. Choice is important; let them outline the area that they’d like to cool down in and ask them to help you lay down the tape. Once it’s outlined, say something like, “Whenever you need to cool down, you can come to your area and sit for awhile. This area is to help you when you need it.” Check for understanding by asking them to explain what the area is for and make sure they know the area is not for punishment.

It is important to preemptively set this up, so that when they do meltdown, they understand where they are going and why. If a student refuses to move to the area, don’t force it. I have not encountered problems with using it due to the fact that the students are part of the creation of it. The Cool-Down Area has been helpful for all but one of the students I have used it for!

I hope this helps you!

-Miss S.

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