Have you ever had your child go from 0-60 in 2 seconds flat?
Maybe you’ve been stuck inside all day due to bad weather or you have limited space and use screens a lot, and all of a sudden your little sweetheart goes from calm to crazy!
The worst part is, sometimes you don’t even know what has caused it.
Well here is one of the most common reasons your child gets out of control:
Their sensory needs aren’t being met!
My son is 3 1/2 with autism and sensory processing disorder and my daughter is 20 months and very spirited. And I think she has some sensory needs too (we all do in our own way, actually!).
And 9 times out of 10, when they start going psycho, it is because they have certain sensory needs that just aren’t being met. Meaning they are either under or overstimulated with whatever activity they are engaged in.
So how to help?
Well for starters, look at the behaviors your child is exhibiting to help you figure out if they are under or overstimulated.
When you are stuck in a hotel room while traveling or happen to be inside due to bad weather, often a lot of screen time happens.
No judgment from me, but it happens.
Have you ever noticed though that your child may appear to “zone out” while watching tv and then when you turn it off, they go nuts?
It is actually due to overstimulation!
A tv show or movie moves wayyyy faster than activity in real life. So their little brains are working extra hard to keep up. That’s why they “zone.” Their brains honestly can’t take in anything else and instead get hyper-focused on the screen.
So when you finally take the screen away, their brains are going at hyperspeed, and real life just isn’t stimulating enough anymore. A bit of a problem, right?
And when those screens are gone and their brain is still going too fast, their bodies don’t know what to do! I know that my son tends to get really aggressive after screen time.
Another example is maybe they have been reading books and doing puzzles all day, and then start bouncing off of the walls.
They’re under stimulated!
So the key is to help them get their senses back in order.
But how do you do that?
You need to activate the proprioceptive and vestibular senses!
I go into further detail about the proprioceptive and vestibular senses in my post about sensory processing disorders, but here is the basic idea:
Your body has more than just 5 senses. It also has the vestibular (which has to do with balance and your “place” in space) and the proprioceptive (which deals with stimuli that are received through pressure and your joints, i.e. chewing, jumping, etc.).
So if you want to calm your child after screen time, or just help them burn some energy while stuck inside, you need to do activities that activate these senses. You’ll be shocked to see how quickly your child goes “back to normal.”
Vestibular Sense Activities
- Hang upside down
Proprioceptive Sense Activities
- Blow through straws
- Press hands together
- Weighted blankets
- Tight hugs
- Chewing on a toy (like THESE) or eating crunchy snacks
- Using a pacifier
Other calming activities
- Deep breaths
- Distractions (games like, what sound does this animal make? Or what is your favorite song?)
- Noise reducing headphones
- Water bin (any water activity can be very calming)
Now, depending on your child, some of these activities will work better than others.
When my son is out of control, he likes to jump, press his hands together, or take deep breaths. He doesn’t like to be touched when he is out of control.
My daughter on the other hand loves to be held, dance, or do a fun distracting game.
There is a bit of a learning curve, but after some trial and error, you will find out what works best for YOUR child!
For even more information about sensory needs, The Out-of-Sync Child is a FANTASTIC resource. It is my go-to book to help my kids!
And be prepared for if your child has a meltdown while out of control by downloading my free guide to handling meltdowns!
Stop a Meltdown In Its Tracks with These Tricks!
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