Our Breakthrough with Calming Down and Dealing with Tantrums

Wherever I can I try to be an “attachment parent” whatever that label means. I firmly believe that while children need routine and boundaries, the best way to give it isn’t through shouting and laying down rules. Small people are sent to test us. To push boundaries. To challenge daily. But tantrums? Dealing with tantrums was not bringing out the best in me.  It still isn’t bringing out the best in me, enter calm down glitter jars.

Before I made my first calm down jar, I was so disappointed in myself for getting so frustrated when I was dealing with tantrums that I shouted, I used Time Out (which he hated) and inevitably ended up with more tears than I started with, from both of us.

Our very first calm down glitter jar came about after I bought the Mindful Craft box from KenziBox, who are based in Dubai, for 99AED.  They provided a series of crafts that your little one will love to do while helping you practice some positive and mindful parenting, developed with Joanne Jewell who runs a series of parenting workshops in Dubai. Hidden in this box of goodies was the thinking jar, also known as the calm down jar, or as it quickly became known in our house the blitter *glitter jar because it was a jar filled with glitter.

We got on great with this. It really was a breakthrough in dealing with tantrums for us, rather than the three minutes of supersonic screaming of MUMMY while in time out, we went for a “little chat” with the jar to shake all the angry away (and thank you Bing Bunny for the idea of moving the angry away.) It was all going swimmingly until the day he pushed the Baby, who’s learning to stand, over into the table and I lost my temper.

Instead of going for a calm chat for us both to shake the angry away and talk about why he did what he did. To talk about how it hurts and he doesn’t like to be pushed. Instead I put him in Time Out. Where he then threw everything he could get his hands on out of the room. Including the glitter jar. Where the lid promptly cracked.


Bye bye calm down glitter jar and a fresh set of tears because his glitter jar had smashed. He wanted to show his friends, he wanted the glitter back. Then he said something to me which made me decide to go and make a new calm down glitter jar, and to leave time out behind forever when dealing with tantrums.

But how will I shake my angry away?

With that one sentence I knew that the way forward in dealing with tantrums, for us at least, wasn’t time out. So in came our new calm down glitter jar, an afternoon activity and a tool to help him control some of the emotions swirling around inside when he tantrums.

“Tantrums are not bad behavior. Tantrums are an expression of emotion that became too much for the child to bear. No punishment is required. What your child needs is compassion and safe, loving arms to unload in.”

~~ Rebecca Eanes ~~

How we made our Thinking Glitter Jar to help in calming down and dealing with tantrums


What you need

A jar or bottle
Food colouring

We sourced most of our pieces from Daiso out here in Dubai meaning that our jar didn’t have to be expensive. Our jar is in fact a water bottle because we liked the frogs.

dealing with tantrums

How to do it

1. Pour the glycerine into the jar. We used the whole bottle. Glycerine slows down the glitter falling to the bottom after you shake it.

2. Add the glitter. We had chosen a variety from silver glitter to silver hearts and silver stars.


3. Mix the food colouring with the water in a separate bottle before letting them loose on pouring it in.

thinking jar

4. Close the lid, I recommend gluing it shut if you can. Shake away!


Why I let my child make his own calm down jar

Not just as a craft that we could do together, I wanted the glitter jar to be something that was solely his.  That the calm down jar would in fact calm him down because HE wanted to be calmed down rather than being TOLD to calm down.

In the words of Benjamin Franklin.

Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.

Pin for later:

Involve your child in making their own calm down glitter jar

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  1. March 2, 2016 / 6:43 pm

    I love this! I totally agree that tantrums aren’t bad behaviour (well with most kids anyway) and are just an explosion of feelings that the child can’t process. I know plenty of adults that have tantrums!
    But I wish I was able to cope better with them as its hard not to get frustrated in that situation.
    I will definitely be giving this a go with my 4 year old. I may wait a while with my 2 year old as he is a ‘thrower’ and I fear we’d end up the with glitter water all over the floor

    • Laura
      March 2, 2016 / 9:20 pm

      I think that was half our problem, my frustration alongside his frustration making it even worse. The glitter is still everywhere!

  2. March 2, 2016 / 8:29 pm

    I love this. I’ve always thought about making one of these except I knew we’d end up with glitter water all over the floor like you did. Lovely to see some honest parenting in a post. Glad it’s working for you!

    • Laura
      March 2, 2016 / 9:19 pm

      Thank you! Yeah the glitter water wasn’t great but having something to help us both focus on talking is much better than the screaming battles of the more traditional approach.

  3. March 8, 2016 / 10:57 am

    Brilliant idea, I love it! We’re not quite at the tantrum stage yet, and I’m hoping that by using an idea like this from the start we can get off on the right foot when the time comes – thanks 🙂

  4. March 8, 2016 / 4:59 pm

    I’ve seen these before but not used one… I have a day at home with my two tomorrow so might make one of these each as my eldest is struggling with his emotions a little at the moment x

  5. March 8, 2016 / 11:09 pm

    I love this – what a brilliant idea for helping to calm tantrums. We tend to use time out and I do have moments of questioning whether it really is effective, especially as I’m really not sure that Sophie understands why she gets sat on the stairs every so often. This sounds so much more effective, and yes, I’m also thankful to Bing Bunny for the ‘blowing the angry away’ idea – although shaking the angry away sounds like more fun. I’m definitely going to have to try making a ‘blitter jar’ for my girls. Thanks for sharing with #ftmob 🙂

  6. March 8, 2016 / 11:20 pm

    We have one of these! The kids love it, I love that quote too. Perfectly sums up toddler-dom! Thanks for linking up to #ToddlerApprovedTuesday

  7. March 9, 2016 / 4:34 pm

    Bless him, and you. Tantrums really do have a way to bring out the worst in us as well as then. Glad your glitter jar works with your little man xx

  8. March 10, 2016 / 11:55 pm

    What a brilliant idea. I completely hear you when it comes to tantrums. Most times I sit her down, get to her level and try and talk about why she’s upset but some days (usually after a sleepless night) I shout back and I’m so disappointed in myself. Maybe we will give the glitter jar a go. #ftmob

  9. March 11, 2016 / 2:21 pm

    What a great idea! Will be doing this with bodhi as he often gets very cross for no real reason

  10. March 1, 2017 / 9:02 am

    Very cool. I love the way this developed from a tool he was given to a tool he owned. Stashing this idea for the future (hopefully)

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