The safe place - Elsa Support for emotional literacy

The safe place

I would love to get everyone to make a simple word change in their classrooms/ELSA rooms of  ‘The safe place’ instead of ‘Calming corner’ or ‘the calm down area’. I know loads of people have ‘calming corners’, ‘calm down areas’ and so on, so not expecting an immediate change of all your hard work. Next time you update think about this…

How do you feel when someone asks/tells you to ‘calm down’? It actually doesn’t feel that good does it? It sort of feels a bit condescending and a bit patronising. It is almost dismissing the person’s feelings, which are right now. quite valid in the circumstance they are in. I know if anyone tells me to calm down I actually feel more anxious or angry! You can’t just turn off your emotions can you? It takes time to bring yourself down and someone telling you to ‘calm down’ just doesn’t do it!


We may in fact be subtly telling our children  to ‘calm down’ in our classrooms and schools when we have a ‘Calm down area’.  Totally for the right reasons but still, we are perhaps unintentionally invalidating their very real feelings. It feels like someone is trying to control you when they ask you to ‘calm down’. The intention is good to have an area where children can regulate their feelings but should we call it a ‘Calm down area’. Labelling an area as a ‘calm down’ area may not have the best desired outcome.  I saw a brilliant post on Instagram where a counsellor had put in this change and had seen a significant difference. It was her post that inspired this blog post for you.

The safe place represents an area to regulate emotions, it probably will calm  the children down and most importantly it validates all their feelings. It feels safe, it feels cosy, it feels familiar. Say to children ‘It looks like you are struggling right now, do you want to go to the safe place?’ How much better does that sound than ‘It looks like you need to calm down, do you want to go to the calm down area?’

We do have some resources on the website for children to visualise and draw their safe place. I do think it is a good idea to do this too so the children understand what a safe place represents. Some prior work on this before introducing your new area will definitely instil that perception of a ‘safe place’.

We have a free download here.

safe place

Isabel Brooks sent us a lovely visualisation called the summer storm which to me, infers a safe place. A place where you feel relaxed, happy and safe! In this case safe from the storm. Perhaps reading this through to children will help them understand and visualise that special safe place.

There are ideas here on what to put in your safe place   You will notice the post is called ‘Calming basket’, again something I would like to change myself but for purposes of people finding our posts, I need to leave it there. Can you refer to it as  ‘Safe place’ basket to the children?

We also have lots of Mindfulness and calming strategies resources on the website.

I would love as many of you as possible to try making this change. Let me know if it makes a difference. Send me your photos of your areas so I can display them in this post. Do let me know what you think about this change below in the comments. Love to hear your views.

I have two banners here which are free to download for your areas, one is in a natural style and the other is a bit brighter. Both suitable for all age groups.

If you want a change of colour to fit your area then let me know. Contact me.

Download: Safe place banners

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