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The Calm Jar: An Effective Mindfulness Tool To Help Children Manage Stress

Often children find it difficult to manage the flood of thoughts and emotions that they experience while coping with a difficult situation or even while disengaging from a stressful day.

They may end up throwing temper tantrums, withdraw socially, lose focus, cry easily or engage in other such venting behaviours. Managing these behaviours can sometimes get tricky for the parents.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if there was an easier way for children to learn to calm themselves and at the same time understand how their mind and body feel and react during stressful times?

In my experience of working with children, using a calm jar serves both the purposes. I have noticed that children who find it difficult to sit and follow through any other activities find it easy to use a calm jar. It is interactive, interesting, playful and at the same time soothing. Hence this activity is a very important one in our Breathing Happiness Program, which helps children develop mindfulness and focus.

Regular use of the calm jar gives children a clearer understanding of how their inner weather is and at the same time helps calm it down. With practice, their nervous system learns to rest even in stressful situations creating more space for the children to respond to a situation rather than act on an impulse and react.

Here is how to make and use one for your child!

  1. Take a transparent, spill proof container.
  2. Add half cup warm water to the container.
  3. Add 3 spoons of transparent glue and half a packet of loose glitter of any colour of your choice.
  4. Stir it well and fill the remaining container with room temperature water.

The Calm Jar is ready to use!

How To Use It?

Introduce the calm jar to your child by saying the following-

  1. This jar works just like our mind and body. When we feel stressed we find it difficult to stay calm. It feels like some storm has started in our mind and body. Let’s see what happens when we shake this jar up? (Let your child observe the movement of glitter and report what they see)
  2. Glitter is just like the feelings and thoughts that we get when we are feeling upset or stressed. It moves all around and makes it difficult to see through the water.
  3. It is important to let the jar rest for the glitter to settle down. Let us see how we feel when we observe the glitter settle down as we let the jar rest at one place. (Observe the glitter settling slowly. Observing the glitter calm down helps children as well as adults calm down physiologically.)

We just learnt how to calm down by observing the glitter jar!

Just like this calm glitter jar, we can also clearly understand how we are feeling if we take some time to calm down. Just like some glitter settled fast and some took more time we can also let our feelings and thoughts take as much time as they need.

You can start practicing with your child by using this Calm Jar 1 or 2 times a day just to get more centered. Of course you can make it your go to support system whenever your kid is feeling overwhelmed. Even if your child does not cooperate, you can use it when you are feeling stressed. It’s a wonderful tool for adults to get centered too. You can follow it up by a small meditation practice.

When your children see you using it, they will feel a little more comfortable to go to the calm Jar themselves too.

Happy calming down! If you have any questions about the calm Jar or about practicing mindfulness yourself or with your children, do write to us in the comment section below or on our email.

We are always happy to help!

About the author

Shubhra B. Sarvaiya

Shubhra is a psychologist and mindfulness practitioner. At Mindful Spring, she works with mindfulness for children.

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