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. 

 

Parenting: Clear the Way!

There are so many different ways that people choose to parent. There are two different styles that have made the news in the past few years that I want to discuss.

Most likely you have heard the term “Helicopter Parent”. This is one style I would like to discuss..

Helicopter Parenting??

A Helicopter Parent is a parent that hangs around and tries to do most things for their child. When their child is facing any sort of adversity they are they trying to fix it.

I have seen a number of examples of Helicopter parenting in my professional and personal life. I had to give my head a shake when Simon first started school to prevent myself from becoming a Helicopter parent.

When I was working in schools I would see the parents that were coming and talking to teachers or the principal about their child’s grades or unfinished assignment. When on the playground, I still see the parents that are right there and their child is 6 or 7. That is a Helicopter Parent!! The person that is constantly hovering around and fixing things for their child.

What happens with the children of Helicopter Parents?

Children that have helicopter parents are often looking for their parent to clear up any issues they have to deal with. They are not even sure how to deal with situations without their parent there.

These children are often looking for their parent to guide them or do it for them. They often do not feel like they can handle things on their own.

How can you prevent yourself from becoming a Helicopter Parent?

To prevent your child from looking to you to protect and fix things for them it is important to step back and let your child know that they can handle the situation.

Discussing possible solutions and empowering your child to problem solve will set your child up for success and prevent you from being a Helicopter.

The next type of Parenting I want to discuss is “Lawnmower Parenting”.

Lawnmower Parenting??

A Lawnmower parent is a parent that is trying to clear the way for their child to make sure their child does not have to deal with any issues. Adversity is moved out of the way and the child can breeze through without issue.

A good example of a Lawnmower parent is a parent that would pay to have their child be given a back door way into a school or sporting programming. (Trust me it happens more than you think…)

Another example is the parent who drops what they are doing to bring their child an item that forgot home. This child would not have to deal with the natural consequence of forgetting things at home.

What happens with the children of Lawnmower Parents?

These children are also very dependent on their parents. They can expect their parents to drop everything they are doing and focus solely on them.

“What do you mean you will not bring my homework to school?” This was something I actually heard a child saying on the phone to their parent. This particular parent was always bringing things to the school and realized she needed to stop as her child came to expect her mom to “rescue her”. 

Often these children then expect that all adults will solve their issues. It become obvious very fast which of our older boys friends had lawnmower parents in university. These students were on their own and afraid to make decisions or completely reckless and unaware of the possible repercussions of their behaviour.

How can you prevent yourself from becoming a Lawnmower Parent?

Just like preventing yourself from being a helicopter parent, you can prevent yourself from being a lawnmower by standing back and allowing your child to try new things. Let them know they can try things and let them feel what happens when things do not go according to plan.

Let your child make a mistake and teach them how to learn from them. Mistakes are great!!

 

 

If you have any further questions about this, please send me a private message or post in the Facebook group.

 

Natural and Logical Consequences

I am often asked.. “what is an appropriate way to handle my child’s (undesired) behaviour?”

There are going to be many times in your child’s life that their behaviour is less than desired. As discussed previously, there are 2 basic ways to handle the behaviours. You can are in a proactive or reactive manner. There is time and a place for both of these ways of handling a behaviour.

Consequences given to your child for a behaviour is an example of a reactive manner. The most productive consequences are the ones that are Natural and Logical.

 

What is a Natural Consequence?

 

A natural consequence is something that happens naturally when your child chooses to do something. The consequence is not given by an adult but results form an action a child does.

The following are examples of behaviours that happen and the natural consequence that occur.

Will not put on coat

Your child will feel the effects of the cold air or wet weather.

Refuse to eat

If you offer your child a snack and he refuses it he will be hungry.

No Homework Done

Your child will have to deal with the consequences at school.

Bedtime Stalling

Your child will be tired the next day and will need a nap.

The key with natural consequences is that you allow your child to feel the natural consequence as long as it is not a safety issue. There have been many times that our son has decided he did not want to wear a coat when it was cold outside. Refusing to wear a coat could be a safety issue so I would ask him to carry a coat or I would grab one on the way out the door. After a few minutes of being cold, the jacket was excepted without issue.

It can be hard to refrain from saying “I told you it would be cold”. These types of statements are not super productive. 

 

What is a Logical Consequence?

 

A logical consequence is something that an adult imposes on a child due to a behaviour. The consequence given is best if related to the behaviour that is occurred.

The following are examples of logical consequences that occur after a behaviour.

"Hit you sit"

Your child is asked to sit down after hitting someone. This gives the person hit a chance to regroup.

Toy Timeout

If your child is not playing with a toy appropriately, the toy is removed for a set period of time.

No Electonics

If your child’s behaviour is off after electronics then the use of electronics is removed.

The key to a logical consequence is that it has to relate to the behaviour. If the consequence does not relate to the bahaviour then it is not longer a consequence and it is a punishment. Effective logical consequences are given right after the behaviour occurs and are followed through with.

Please feel free to send me a message if you are wondering what a natural or logical response can be for a particular behaviour.

I look forward to helping you be the parent you want to be!

My new BFF..

 

Time!!!

 

Throughout the past few years as a parent, I have learned to embrace time and all that it can help me with. Do not get me wrong there have many days where I feel that time is against me; however, for the most part, Time and I are BFFs.

How do I use the time to my advantage as a parent?

1. I am constantly keeping in mind the amount of time my child (or your child 🙂 ) is awake for. By adjusting your child’s wake time it can assist with night wakings, difficulties with your child going to sleep, and short naps. Here is a link to a Wake Times Chart.

2. Setting a timer as a reminder for me or our little man. I felt like I was a broken record at times when our young man was a Toddler or Preschool Aged Child. “It’s time to….” I began setting a timer and stating “when the timer goes off please go to the bathroom”. He would not fight with the timer.

3. Making cleaning up fun! I would set a stopwatch on my phone and time how fast our young man could pick up his toys. He loved this game so much that now he sets his own watch to try to beat the clock!

4. Give me extra time to get out the door. I will start the process of leaving the house 10 minutes before I have to as it seems to be a law that someone will have to use the bathroom on the way out the door. It is not always the youngest member of the family!

5. I keep in mind that it can take 3 to 4 weeks for a behavior to really change and often I will not see the complete change until the 6 to the 8-week mark. This allows me to cut myself some slack.

6. Our young man has specific times a day that he gets to watch a television show. He watches 2 to 3 shows a day at 8:00 am, 11:00 am and 4:00 pm. Why did I do this? Simple, to stop the “I want to watch a show”!! My answer now is “you certainly can at (insert proper time)”. When I do not have to say No as often the whining reduces.

7. Using a clock to assist with our young man knowing what time he can get up. He had a Gro-Clock for a long time. I put the brightness on zero and then the clock only came on when it was time to get up. Now that he understands time, he has an alarm clock. The alarm clock has red lights for the numbers (Red light does not interrupt the production of melatonin).

Do you have any additional way you use the time to your advantage? I would love to hear about them. Please place your answers in the comment section below this post.