Super Sensory Senses- Helping Kids Regulate
Since it is summer many places I thought we would start with Sensory activities. With all the changing schedules this may help you get a bit of peace.
Is your child always jumping around, spinning and going wild? Do you wonder why? I’m sure the first thing that comes to mind is STOP that! But, if you encourage these activities you may find yourself with fewer behavior problems! Our kid’s vestibular systems (I know, I didn’t name it. If I had it would have been called something much cooler!) is shorting out and doesn’t have a good handle on input.
Some kids don’t feel the input as much and are considered sensory seeking and others feel it too much and are considered sensory avoiding. This is a generalization, but you get the point. The vestibular system regulates body functions like balance and spatial awareness (being aware of where their body is in relation to everything around them), muscle tone etc.
Our Kids NEED These Activities
They are craving input! This input can be jumping, twirling, spinning on a merry go round or an astronaut board and swinging for example.
When your child is in this mode if they aren’t hurting themselves let them get the input they need. If they are trying to jump off the house you might need to stop that! Just sayin’. The more things like this your child can do the more regulated he/she will be and the more they will learn and better they will feel in the period after those activities. Hey, schools- give our kids more recesses and bring back merry-go-rounds! Read our article on schools here.
There are many ways to find out if your child tends to be sensory seeking or avoiding in general by watching their daily activities. Many kids who are sensory avoiding in other ways are sensory seeking in physical activities like jumping, swinging, spinning. These things give them a way to block out other stimuli that bugs them and at the same time get a large amount of one sensory input that their body understands and can focus on. A big plus is it is good for them!
Try a few of these out and see how your child likes them, they are inexpensive and wonderful sensory input!
If you can let your child do several of these activities for this challenge that would be great. Take a note of which activities are your child’s favorite and offer it and as many other activities as you can on a regular basis. Also note their behavior afterward. You may find that these activities make them more peaceful, more wound up- but better mood or just plain tired. Tracking the progress over time will give you an idea of how their body is learning to regulate itself and which activities are helpful for mood, sleep, etc.
Things to Try First
Does your child like to swing? Swinging is great for helping with sensory integration it works to stabilize the vestibular system. Swinging gives your child input in a rhythmic manner which is calming. It is also helping to reprogram the vestibular system. It is the most intensive vestibular exercise there is.
Here are a couple of good options to help them get going…
Jumping provides your child with information their body craves. It works by telling the vestibular system where they are physically, and it helps kids bodies learn to regulate their senses by telling their bodies this information.
If your child is not used to swinging or doesn’t like swinging sitting on their butt, don’t worry. They can swing on their stomach, straddling the swing or however makes them comfortable. They will move from one type of swinging to another. It may take weeks or months of swinging on their belly to move to straddling the swing and that is OK!
It may take even longer to then move to climbing over the swing to sit on it. Then move to sitting on the seat without climbing over. This has to do with finding their place in space- that whole spatial awareness thing. They may go back and forth from one to the other depending on the day and how their sensory system is processing. Let them make progress the way they feel comfortable. It’s important to build their confidence. It all gets the job done!
Other Sensory Options
Other sensory options- merry go round- if you are there to control it in case other kids get out of hand.
A Bosu Ball or Balance Trainer is wonderful for children and adults. My daughter loves it and uses it many ways! It is a bit pricey but is very heavy duty and should hold up a long time.
An astronaut board is a great inside tool that you can use and we will do a quick video demonstration of it and how it is made- send in follow up email hopefully this evening.
Mini Trampoline- great for indoor jumping when the weather is bad or if you have limited outdoor space.
Regular trampoline-I’d highly suggest one with the netting since many of our kiddo’s either have no fear or are more limited in spatial awareness.
Swimming and running in the sprinkler- Swimming/bathing is popular because of the sensory deprivation that is caused by putting the head ears and all under the water. This is why your child has probably scared you more than once by putting their head back in the water to the point they almost have water in their nose!
Like jumping or spinning it takes away all outside noise and vibrations and gives them an experience they can mostly control until we tell them to quit they are getting water in their mouth! I have been especially careful of this since the dry drowning in Texas last spring so just a word of caution. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t meet their need just that supervision in a bath is necessary until an older age for children to be safe. Here’s another article about why our kids miss out here.
Benefits they Need
By making sure your child gets as much time jumping, swinging, spinning and other similar activities you can help them to regulate their behavior. Just like when your foot itches in your sock and you can’t stand it – when a child has a sensory need this is how it feels!
By providing them with the opportunity to get enough input you can reduce many behavior issues.
How much is enough? That varies by child, by day and by other sensory needs. A 5-year old that is sensory seeking may want several hours a day. A sensory avoiding child may want a couple of 15 minutes or 30 minutes a day. Be open-minded and see what works for your child and remember it even varies by the child by a lot.
Oh, and an added bonus- when you catch your child starting to have a meltdown- get them started on one of these activities asap! Total game changer!
So which activities did they love? Which if any do they hate?
I’m waiting on pins and needles (well with Diet Coke and Funyuns) here to find out if your child enjoyed these activities and if you have seen the benefit of using them! Did they try something that I didn’t include and it worked great? Please hit reply and send me an email or shout out in the group! I am always taking feedback and updating to help other parents! Plus, I want to share your success with other parents so they can be encouraged that they CAN help their child too!
We are in this together!
That’s all for now,
Have a Beautiful Day!