Families want the holidays to be a happy time for everyone, especially their children. It is important to take a few moments and recognize that what adults view as the “hustle and bustle” of the season can be overwhelming and over-stimulating sensory input for children, especially those with Sensory Processing Disorder or other neurological challenges. Here are a few suggestions to help children and adults stay healthy and happy over the holiday season.
Laughter is the best medicine! It’s the quickest way to change everyone’s mood from bad to good. Tell silly “knock-knock” jokes with your kids or watch funny movies together.
That’s right, take a deep breath in and let your belly gently expand out. This sends a signal to your brain that it’s okay to relax and unclench those tight shoulders and jaw. Just like a yawn, belly breathing is contagious and your kids will start to copy your deep breath.
Many routines are disrupted during the holidays and this can be very upsetting for children, causing them to be cranky and complaining. Try to keep naps and meals at the same time every day. It’s okay to say “no” to invitations when your kids (and you!) are on sensory overload. Offer to get together in the New Year, instead. Try using calendars or picture schedules to help your child know what to expect. Predictability helps everyone stay calm.
Enjoy your holiday traditions with your families!
Cindy Clark, MS, OTR/L, BCP, CIMI/L