During this time of year there are many wonderful things that we all get to partake in; family get togethers, opening presents, seeing all of the beautiful lights, etc. Though we might become excited and love these experiences, for our kids who have sensory processing concerns or become dysregulated because of change within their routines, this time of year can present with increased challenges. Here are a few tips and tricks that you and your family can utilize to help increase your child’s success during this holiday season.
Decrease Expectations – We all want the perfect holiday card picture to send to our loved ones, the perfect day of celebration, or to be able to go to our family’s house without anyone experiencing a meltdown. If there is anything that 2020 has taught us, it is that nothing is perfect. We need to give everyone some grace, including ourselves and our children. Lowering expectations and allowing things to not be exactly as we hoped or pictured will go a long way. This allows us the opportunity to experience things in a more relaxed, calm manner. Who knows, this may become your preferred way of completing the holidays moving forward.
Plan Ahead – With the holiday season comes change within routine; school is out for the holiday, going and social distance visiting family and friends that we may not see regularly, engaging in activities that are new, etc. Planning ahead will help to increase your child’s awareness of what is going to happen and will hopefully allow for increased participation and success. Some tools that are helpful include:
- Creating a visual schedule
- Talk to your child about what will be taking place
- Utilizing social stories when doing something new
Down Time – During this wonderful, hectic time don’t forget to schedule time to relax, both for you and your kids. Scheduling planned sensory breaks throughout your daily routines will help to increase sensory processing and modulation skills which will help the child be able to participate at a higher level of success. Some sensory breaks that you may consider are:
- Quiet time – create a place that has decreased stimuli (no decorations) and that is familiar for your child to relax and potentially engage in other calming activities.
- Music – Listen to familiar music; not all Christmas carols all of the time. Let your child choose what they want to listen to. Maybe get up and dance with them too!
- Story time – Reading to your child or allowing them to read independently can be calming.
- Arts and crafts – Let your child be creative! Drawing, painting, baking cookies, and so many more will allow both for a sensory experience and for them to participate in a potentially calming activity.
- Movement breaks – Organized movement breaks provides your child with deep pressure, proprioceptive, and vestibular input, which will increase your child’s overall regulation. Some ideas can include yoga, dancing, Simon Says, obstacle courses, jumping on a trampoline, or going to the park.
For more ideas of how to increase your child’s success during this holiday season, please reach out to your child’s therapist.