Welcome back to the second in guest blogger Amy Stout’s series about common triggers and coping strategies for kids who meltdown because of sensory issues. Yesterday, Amy defined sensory issues and addressed several misconceptions about them. In today’s post, she shares practical advice about what to do when a meltdown occurs.
Childhood Meltdowns: Triggers and Coping Strategies,
Evaluate the Physical Environment: The easiest way to remember this is to think through your senses.
- Eyes: Dim the lights (if it is daytime, turn them off altogether and use lighting from windows).
Strategy: Allow your child to use a flashlight vs. overhead lights. Allow your child to wear sunglasses indoors.
- Ears: Lower the volume of TV or radio. If you must talk, talk in your quiet ”library voice.”
Strategy: Invest in noise cancelling ear phones. Teach your child how to cover their ears and give them permission to do so, and don’t scold them for being rude when they do.
- Nose/Olfactory: Is there something cooking that has an odor? Does the refrigerator have some tenants that need to be evicted? Has there been air fresheners sprayed? Is someone wearing a strong perfume? Does the cat box need to be cleaned? Have you changed cleaning products or laundry softener scents?
Strategy: Allow your child to remove themselves from the environment that they cannot handle (Even if it is the dinner table).
- Mouth: Is the texture of food, toothpaste, or medicines too difficult for your child to handle? Does your child have issues with reflux (spitting up, clearing their throat, etc)?
Strategy: Determine in advance and, with your child, agree on food choices that they feel are “safe.” Keep in mind that if your child has a severe feeding issue, formula and multi vitamins are always an option. If your child has reflux, try using infant gas drops. (Look for the ingredient simethicone - this product is sold over the counter.) It also helps to know what foods trigger reflux.
- Touch: Is your child sensitive to the tags on their shirts; are the seams in socks bothersome? Does your child tell you that jeans/denim hurt them? Does your child break out in rashes often? Could your child’s clothing/shoes be too snug?
Strategy: Purchase tag less t-shirts and seamless socks, allow your child to wear softer fabrics than denim (many children prefer sweat pant type material), if your child breaks out often, you might consider and talk to your doctor about allergies, skin sensitivities and the possibility of administering Benadryl, an allergy medicine that is sold over the counter.
Evaluate the Emotional Environment
It could be that your child is responding to the emotional temperature in your home.
- Have you or other adults been talking in raised voices or hollering to each other from different floors? You may not even be angry, just loud.
- Has someone been upset or crying?
- Has someone been emotionally unregulated?
- Are other children being loud or noisy?
- Have voices on the television/radio been yelling or talking sternly/seriously?
- Is your child sensitive to a certain gender’s voice? (My daughter was terrified of deep male voices coming from our TV.)
- Turn your television/radio down or off.
- Speak in quiet and calming voices.
- Allow your child to have a safe place where they can go when other children become too noisy or active for their comfort level.
- If your child will allow it, hug them close and assure them that you are present for them. Secure a blanket around them (Our daughter loves to sit in the corner of our couch with a blanket tucked tightly around her). Many children enjoy being squeezed.
- Ensure your child’s comfort item is accessible.
- Allow your child to use headphones.
- Keep in mind, that body language and tone of voice are both equally important in maintaining an emotionally healthy home.
How About You?
Have you used some of these coping strategies? How have they worked for you? What other strategies do you use? Leave a comment to share your experiences! And check out Amy’s website at http://histreasuredprincess.blogspot.com to read more of her informative posts.
Come back for Part 3 tomorrow,