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What To Do When Your Kid is THAT Kid

As I sit at the edge of the playground watching “other” children, I have an acute one-of-these-things-does-not-belong sensation. That’s my kid. He is THAT kid. You know what I mean.  “That kid..” The one at the playground who runs around screaming, shoves and bumps into other children, and melts down when he doesn’t get the swing he wants. I could go on. As a parent, it’s extremely difficult and usually quite embarrassing to deal with this behavior. The playground and birthday parties were sources of extreme stress for me. Eventually, I started trying to figure out what I could do to help my child in these situations. We got some great advice from our occupational therapist.
Say “No!”
We now decline events when we believe the environment to be too much for our child. This is okay and for us generally causes less stress than accepting an invitation which places us in an environment which assures stress. Be prepared.
Be sure little ones are fed and rested before an outing. Bring snacks you know they will eat. Know the weather and adapt your plan accordingly.  Preparation is paramount.
Anticipate and use movement proactively.
When I anticipate an event may trigger a stress response in my child, we move A LOT.  Crawling, jumping jacks, yoga, running, rolling around, spinning, they’re all in my arsenal.  These movements stimulate a child’s sensory systems. I’ve observed firsthand how they calm my children and enable them to handle added stress.
Arrive early.
Arriving early allows you to scope out the surroundings before the venue becomes too crowded. Locate sensory-friendly areas, restrooms, quiet areas where you can take a break if necessary. Give yourself grace.
If you need to leave because the surroundings are too much, don’t feel guilty. You are giving your child what he or she needs at the time. It’s okay to set a small goal, 15 to 20 minutes for example, and work up from there. Celebrate small successes. What kinds of guidelines have you implemented for your children with sensory processing challenges? Please share your experiences in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

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