Cayden Anderson, 18, of Horace, North Dakota, a member of Girl Scouts Dakota Horizons and a senior at Sheyenne High School, created “calm down kits” for classrooms at an early childhood learning center to help teachers and other staff members teach coping and focusing skills to their young students. “As a volunteer church preschool teacher, I’ve become increasingly aware of the struggles that young children, especially those with anxiety or sensory-related disorders, face when learning emotional intelligence and coping skills,” said Cayden. After researching ways that children can be taught to recognize their emotions and calm themselves down, she decided to assemble “calm down” kits based on those strategies and donate them to West Fargo Early Childhood Center.
Cayden first surveyed teachers at the center to determine their needs, and identified activities and materials that have proven useful in calming young children. The next few months were spent collecting donations, shopping for supplies and preparing the kits. They included age-appropriate books about emotions, sensory bottles, pinwheels, laminated materials, supplementary binders and documentation for parents. Cayden delivered 20 kits plus extra supplies to the childhood center, which are now being used by classroom teachers, speech language pathologists and an occupational therapist to benefit more than 150 students. “When children learn to control their emotions and develop calming skills, they will know how to act in a way where they can safely express what they are feeling,” she said.