We’re heading into late summer, but there are still plenty of unstructured days ahead before school starts. If your kids are anything like mine, they are bouncing off the walls, having trouble falling asleep and coming up with ways to get into mischief that I didn’t even know existed.
One strategy for harmonious days ahead is to adopt a sensory-rich lifestyle. Sensory strategies help everyone to prepare their bodies to meet the challenges of an activity, and likewise help us to find activities to meet the needs of the body. As parents, we can use these strategies to prepare our children mentally, emotionally and physically to attend to meals, prepare for bed, complete their chores, and maybe even stay out of trouble!
You may remember your mom saying “go outside and burn some energy;” same concept, but now we know that there are neurological reasons for needing a variety of input to the human body. By pushing, pulling, lifting, swinging, spinning and jumping we are getting the input our body needs. In turn, when the expectation is to sit, attend, listen or sleep, the body is prepared because we have already met the other needs.
As parents, we have two choices: Help our kids get the input they need, or deal with the consequences. For my kids this can mean running, screaming, crying, fighting and breaking things. It is important to acknowledge that all children need activity and movement. Without sufficient input the body will remain in a state of dysregulation, which will result in frustration, inattention and irritability.
So, how do we help our children (and ourselves) meet these needs? Good old fashioned PLAY! Get outside with your kids this summer and try out our activity list below. Your kids, their bodies, and your sanity will thank you!
Outside Activity List:
- Jumping rope
- Build sand castles
- Climb trees
- Head to the nearest playground
- Make mud pies
- Join a sport
- Water some flowers
- Play leapfrog
- Ride a bike
- Inside Activity List:
- Build a fort
- Have a dance party
- Make homemade Playdoh
- Kids’ yoga (check out You Tube)
- Finger painting (in the bath tub for easy clean up)
- Pillow fights
- Get creative with a large cardboard box (color it, cut it and let your kids imagination go wild)
- Bake cookies
- Help your kids record a toy review
- Do a puzzle or board game while lying on your stomach
If you notice that even after implementing a variety of sensory strategies it is difficult for your child to attend, or match his/her energy to meet the needs of an activity, an occupational therapist may be able to help. For more information or a free sensory screening, please call LifeScape at 444-9700.
-Melissa Pitz, MS, OTR/L, Occupational Therapist, LifeScape