BY ALISON BICEK, OT
Don’t underestimate the impact that the chaos and stress of our world has on our children. Kids pick up on what you’re watching on the news, what you’re worried about, and are more affected by the “busyness” of life than we realize.
What I’m describing are high sensory experiences that can elevate a child’s arousal level, putting them in a state of fight or flight. If a child doesn’t have opportunities to calm, they can remain in this state for too long, and it can interfere with their ability to optimally perform daily life skills. This is why it is so important to have a calming space for your child.
Consider trying one or more of these ideas to promote a calming environment for your child:
• Create a calming home environment by dimming the lights, playing soothing music, diffusing essential oils that are calming, de-cluttering, and building routines within the day that provide structure and predictability.
• Have a basket of “calming” activities that are out and available in your home. This may include a stress ball, hide and find books, a puzzle, gum, playdough, or silly putty.
• Consider making a special calming space for your child by converting a closet into a “secret hideaway” with glow in the dark stars, a flashlight or little lantern, lots of pillows, a sleeping bag, and some books.
• Bring out a tent and put it in a quieter room of the house and encourage your child to participate in a quiet activity (Legos, playdough, reading, or just hugging a stuffed animal).
• Under the bed can be a great hide-away for a child.
When we provide these calming spaces for our kids, we teach them a valuable coping strategy to use when life gets a little crazy, which it surely will from time to time.