Sensory Seeking and Aversion Explained

Sensory Seeking and Aversion Explained

Where did that energy come from?? Can I please have some of the energy radiating from my child?

I noticed a number of restaurant staff watching me as our youngest was pushing me in my chair, arm wrestling with me and headbutting me (in a playful way). This is what happens when he is tired, overwhelmed, or excited.

Earlier in the day, I was getting very annoyed with this behaviour. Then I took the time to figure out what was going on…

He is the type of kiddo that seeks out contact. Deep pressure is his friend. Sometimes he has no idea that he is pushing me. I have to tell him that he is pushing me. I will give him a big hug and then he does not have to be attached.

There are some days that I feel like he is an added limb. This is usually when he is excited or worried about something. His big brother is moving out this weekend. I did suspect he would struggle with this big transition.

This type of behaviour is often labeled as Sensory Seeking.

One of his favourite activities to do when he is feeling a great deal of need to sensory seek is to build and climb into forts. Our basement is easily converted to Fort McSween!

The opposite of Sensory Seeking is Sensory Adverse. Children can easily go from one state to another very quickly.

Sensory Adverse behaviour can be refusing to go somewhere with loud noises, refusing hugs, not liking smells, picky eating and many other behaviours.

Our little man gets very sensory adverse in new situations. So he will cover his ears or plug his nose. We let him put up his hood or wear noise-canceling headphones when he wants.

If your child is displaying these behaviours it does not always mean that it is a problem. All humans will go through stages of being sensory seeking and sensory adverse.

 
What can you do if your child is constantly sensory seeking or needing help to calm as he/she seems like a wild child?

 

If your child is sensory seeking, lead him or her towards active activities. Lots of climbing, jumping, sensory play, pushing, pulling and being squeezed.

You can also get your child to carry heavy things. This input can be calming.

How can you get your toddler doing this type of activity? Ask them to help!! Our son loved to move the laundry from the washer to the dryer. He also loved (still loves) to wear a backpack with lots of items in it around the house so I would fill up his backpack and ask him to carry it upstairs or downstairs.

 
What can you do if your child seems adverse to everything?

 

If your child is sensory adverse understand that he/she may refuse to eat certain foods and want to do quiet activities like reading, colouring, and sit close to you but not snuggle. Provide your child with the space to get comfortable with a new place or sounds. Then understand that certain clothing or foods can be very irritating, don’t push it. You will discover the different things that your child enjoys.

One of our son’s favourite things to do when he is feeling averse to things is to wear a tight-fitting hoodie.

 

Now here is where things can get confusing! Your child can go from sensory seeking to being sensory adverse very quickly!! It can also depend on the individual sensory system. For example, our son often seeks outs things that involve jumping, pushing and pulling but is adverse to various touches and sounds.

For more specific information related to your child please feel free to send me a private message or e-mail so we can address your specific situation.

Parenting Styles: Conscious Parenting

Parenting Styles: Conscious Parenting

 

In recent years, there has been an overwhelming amount of information about how our parenting can impact our children. There are times when the information presented can make you feel like a failure as a parent. This feeling then affects your ability to parent.

I have had several families contact me to get clarity on all the different parenting styles. One style that is on the rise in the media and parenting networks is Conscious Parenting.

It is not uncommon for me to hear…”WTF is Conscious Parenting?”.

 

Conscious Parenting in a Nutshell

Conscious Parenting’s main focus is not the child. Say what??? You read that correctly. The main focus with this parenting style is the parent.

It took me a bit of time to wrap my head around the difference between positive parenting, mindful parenting and conscious parenting. The biggest takeaway I have had from my research and practice of the different methods is that they all focus on a positive approach to parenting.

Both positive parenting and mindful parenting focus on interacting with your child in a way that helps your child produce the positive behaviour because you are focused on molding your child’s behaviour using positive interaction or you are aware of (mindful) of your child’s needs.

Conscious parenting focuses on your feelings and the way you are dealing with certain behaviours. It takes the pressure off trying to fix your child and focuses on fixing your view or the way you handle a certain situation.

Tell Me More….

When you are parenting in a Conscious manner you are analyzing and reviewing how your feelings are gearing your reactions or the way you help your child with undesired behaviour.

You look for triggers. I am constantly asking myself..”is this my issue or his?”.

A great example of this is when he struggled with the beginning of grade 2. He would come home pretty upset and concerned that he was not going to be able to complete his work.

After much reflecting I realized I was not helping. My school based anxieties were preventing me from listening to him. All he needed was a safe place to vent and then he was fine but I dragged it out. I was trying to help him learn to write properly and it was becoming a battle. I backed off and listened. Helped when he asked for it and in time things got much better. He felt confident and flourished at school.

As a Sleep Consultant I have a number of parents that I work with that take it personally if their child is not sleeping well. I help parents reduce the stress they put on themselves to improve their child’s sleep and the work on things in a slow progressive manner. Even infants feed off their parents emotions. 

So to parent in a more conscious manner, it is important to work through your issues, identify ways that you can empower your child, set your child up with the tools needed to accomplish the desired behaviours and remove your emotions from the equation.

I actually find this style of parenting to be freeing and less exhausting. I can let way more things go and get the bottom of things way sooner. There is a lot of deep breathing going on.

Please feel free to reach out for support on how you may be able to parent in a more conscious manner. 

 

“The Most Wonderful Time of Year”??

Not 100% sure I would call it the “Most Wonderful Time of Year”!!

The malls are full of people bustling about. Children are bouncing off the walls with excitement. Parents are trying their best to make this a happy time adding pressure to their already busy times. Some people have located far away from family and friends which can add to feelings of isolation. My chest is pounding just writing this post!

It is possible to take a great deal of stress out of the holidays but it will take time and a change of perspective.

How can we make this a Wonderful Time of Year?

1.  Lower your expectations! 

A number of people ( me included) put so much pressure on ourselves to make everything perfect! What is perfect? You are the one setting the bar so ….lower it! This year my goal is that we take in the holiday spirit as much as we can handle.

2.  Schedule Downtime

I am blocking out time that we have absolutely nothing planned. I will not fill it with an activity. Why? We all need time to decompress and do whatever we want. This reduces your stress level which makes it easier to cope with the high demands this time of year.

3.  Have Fun

Play and have fun! Do things that you enjoy.

I will be following my dad’s lead. My father made it very clear that Christmas day was all about the kids. We had time to play and have fun. I have a number of memories of us laughing and playing as a family.

4.  Be Prepared

I recommend having lots of extra batteries on hand! Remove a great deal of the packaging on your child’s gifts. Make it easy for your child to play with that toy.

Also, make sure you have all the food on hand that is needed. Hangry people makes for a bunch of cranky people. If your child is prone to be anxious in new or crowded places utilize the techniques that help your little one cope well. Here is a link to a member only article that may be helpful How to Help an Anxious Child

5.  Pack your Patience

The most important thing for you to pack is your patience!! The calmer you can be the better. I will be the strange woman taking deep breathes while I am in a lineup. I will do my best to be patient. This will help me as a parent. My little man is already showing signs of being excited. He is pointing out the lights or anything he finds interesting. I now take extra time to get places so he can explore and enjoy our time together.

 

I hope you have a wonderful holiday experience with reduced stressed and a great deal of fun!

From my family to yours, Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas/Happy Hanukkah/etc….!!

All the Best,

Brenda McSween

 

Add a Little Fun to Your Day with Rituals

We have all heard of the importance of routines and schedules. Routines and schedules provide children with the understanding of what is coming next and what is to be expected. These are both very important parts of a child’s day. Now let’s add a little fun to your day!! How do I expect to do that?? Add some fun rituals.

What is a Ritual and How is it Different from a Routine?

A ritual is an action we do to help with transitions or as a fun thing which increases the bond between child and adult. A routine is when you do things in a certain order like a bedtime routine or morning routine.

A number of athletes have rituals they perform before a competition. Some hockey players tap the goalie on their way out to the ice. It is common to see some football players pray before going on the field. These acts pump the person up and get them ready for the game.

Rituals can be very beneficial to children that have a hard time with transitions. Rituals do not have to be elaborate and can be quite cute and fun.

What are Some Examples of Rituals?

Special handshake.

A saying you repeat to each other.

Kiss on the cheek.

A song you sing.

Rubbing noses or foreheads.

 

Our youngest son and I have a number of rituals that we use often and I can take them out when he is feeling overwhelmed or worried. Every morning we have snuggles. He always wants to give me a morning kiss before his dad does so they “wrestle” to see who goes first. He goes first! We have a special walk (he walks on my feet). Hugs are a must. He started rubbing his forehead on mine when he was a toddler and it has stuck!

If your little one is struggling with a certain part of your daily life try adding in some rituals and see if that helps. Rituals are perfect before bed!!