Your child’s new favorite calming activity

Posted on December 17, 2015

The medical and hospital process can be scary but our full-time Family Life Specialist Alyssia Premji is always coming up with creative ways to help families cope.

One of those ways is with Calming Jars.


After making his own Calming Jar with our Child Life intern, three-year-old Owen experimented with his by shaking it. He learned that he could do this when he had lots of energy or was feeling upset or angry. He then practised taking deep breaths as all the glitter, sparkles and everything else that was inside slowly fell to them bottom of the jar.

Owen was very excited to show his mom how the calming jar worked, and to show her how he was taking really good deep breaths. Mom loved that the jar was easily portable and said they would definitely try it out next time Owen was feeling frustrated or angry.

The Child Life Intern helps three-year-old Own create a calming jar.

Alyssia says this activity is a great way to visualize the energy that the children and parents are feeling. The act of shaking the jar and watching the glitter explode inside is used to represent the explosion of their feelings. Watching the glitter settle down helps represent the settling of feelings, and can be particularly therapeutic when combined with taking controlled deep breaths.

These jars are great to:

  • ease distress
  • use as a coping tool
  • distract
  • relieve fear and anxiety
  • help take controlled deep breaths

At Ronald McDonald House Southern Alberta, Alyssia encourages families to take their calming jars with them to appointments or procedures. Children are able to use them while getting IV’s, blood work, tests or any other procedure that may cause anxiety.

How to make your own:

  • Supplies: Small jars, glitter glue, warm water, extra glitter.
  • Combine all of the above in a small jar and shake it up! Watch the glitter fall and rest at the bottom. Take deep breaths as it falls to calm yourself.

For more information about our Family Life Program, please visit:

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