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Chill Outz®

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This app aims to teach children specific relaxation techniques.

Teacher Review

The Chill Outz app consists of five cartoon-like, video stories (narratives) aiming to teach children how to calm down through humming (the story of Buzzy Bee), how to overcome panic through breathing (the story of Panicky Penguin), overcome anxiety through shrugging (the story of Timid Turtle), accommodate unfamiliar situations through body relaxation (the story of Noisy Alien) and prepare them for sleep (the story of Sleepy bear).  For example, the Panicky penguin is skiing down the hill and is panicking that he will lose the egg he holds. The pink bunny who is skiing along him is trying to help him by showing him how to breathe in and out in order to calm down. The Panicky penguin is trying out this technique and finds it helpful.

The app could be used with young children (3-5 years old) and primary school  children (5-7 years old) to teach them how to achieve emotional regulation and management in relation to panic, anxiety, unknown situations and calming down when stressed or before bedtime. This app would be of special use and interest to children with special needs such as autism and ADHD who need the most help with emotion regulation and anger management.  To fulfil its objectives, the app calls children to observe and imitate the behaviour of five cartoon-like heroes who face emotionally-disturbing situations. The presentation of the heroes and their stories are well-elaborated and interesting to follow. They are colourful, understandable and suitable for the age of the target audience.  The advantage of this app compared to other commercially available apps for relaxation is that it makes use of video animations to teach children how to react in order to control an emotion rather than using only sounds and voice instructions. From an educational stand point, the app could be improved further if it incorporated activities to examine children's understanding of the emotions the heroes exhibit, map different emotions and their manifestations and elaborate on why and how the heroes manage to control negative emotions. Such activities would facilitate self-awareness of emotions, enhance children's emotional competences and contribute to better understanding the proposed stories. This aspect is found to be incorporated in other similar apps and endorsed very positively by teachers who make use of them. 

Finally, to gain a full understanding of how the proposed stories work or why they have been made, it is very useful to read parents' info (found inside the app) and follow the in-app link to the video guide and FAQs. This information is essential to understand  as a teacher, parent or practitioner how these stories should be used and why these techniques are suitable for supporting the development of emotional skills. It is worth noting here that the app, as indicated in the app's website, is intended to be used by children with the support of a caregiver or teacher or a practitioner (e.g., paediatrician). It would be very helpful if the app provided details to why these approaches are considered to help children calm down, make better decisions and pay attention, pointing to relevant research and actual testing of the app with children that demonstrates their effectiveness. Also, it would be useful to note examples of where and how these stories could be used such as before nap time, during circle time or to help anxious and noisy children relax. The adult support can help children imitate what the story heroes are doing in order to for example relax. The app should be used in a systematic manner and for long, as children need practice in order to master the breathing techniques and become effective in using them when they are emotionally upset.  

Screenshots

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From the Developer

DESCRIPTION
Are Time Outs not working for you? Time to move to Chill Outz®! Developed by pioneering child psychologist Jacqueline Vorpahl (a.k.a. Dr V.). Chill Outz® is a collection of fun animated stories teaching children proven techniques to stay mindful & relaxed anywhere, anytime.

FEATURES
• Buzzy Bee – teaches children how to calm down thru humming
• Panicky Penguin – teaches children how to overcome panic thru focused breathing
• Timid Turtle – teaches children to overcome anxiety thru shrugging
• Noisy Alien – teaches children how to be OK in unfamiliar situations thru body relaxation
• Sleepy Bear – gets children ready for bed thru breathing

The app is also available for Chrome.

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