By NICOLE PELLETIERE, ABC News
(NEW YORK) — A mom is sharing her positive pathway to parenting with a viral TikTok video showing her alternative approach to punishments.
Nikki Mullen-Cruz of Chicago built a special space for her 6-year-old son, Kalev, for whenever he needs to reset his emotions.
The calming corner, or as Kalev calls it, a “cool-down” corner, is an area with soft toys, plants, books and posters showing different calming strategies.
Whenever Kalev is angry or sad, he visits the corner to reset his emotions, while reading, journaling and relaxing.
Mullen-Cruz shared a video of the serene space onto TikTok, where millions watched.
“When my son came into my life, I was pretty arrogant and was set on being this tiger mother,” Mullen-Cruz told ABC News’ Good Morning America. “A few years later I found it wasn’t very effective. I made the shift from the authoritarian tiger mother-style to an authoritarian-nurturing approach.”
With Mullen-Cruz’s positive pathway to parenting, she did away with timeouts and made a commitment to stop yelling.
Mariko Fairly, a board-certified behavioral analyst, said a calming corner is beneficial opposed to the negativity that’s associated with timeouts.
“You’re not leaving your child alone, you’re still present and you’re walking them through calming and coping strategies,” Fairly told GMA.
“It’s a really positive parenting approach to not punish them for what they shouldn’t be doing and show them what they should be doing instead,” she added.
Fairly said a calming corner should be more neutral than fun, and shouldn’t include any favorite toys or favorite music.
“If you have all their favorite things, it may be reinforcing,” she explained. “You may see more inappropriate behavior in a way to get to the calming corner.”
For kids to understand how to regulate emotions, Fairly said it’s helpful to include a chart with pictures or a menu on what to do if you’re feeling mad or frustrated.
Mullen-Cruz said the calming corner has helped Kalev independently put his feelings in check.
“I’m in shock of this transformation,” she said. “He’s no baby Buddha, he definitely has his moments, but he’s really on his way.”
Mullen-Cruz said she’s built more than one calming corner in her home, and even has one for travel.
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