Does my child struggle with sensory regulation? Are the behaviors I am seeing related to an underlying sensory need? These are questions many parents are starting to explore, especially with all the continuing research demonstrating the varying sensory needs children have. “Sensory Regulation” is our ability to make sense of the various sensory input that we receive from the environment at any given time. Some children have more sensitive sensory systems than others, while others require stronger, more intense sensory input to make sense of the world. These differences can make certain environments difficult for children to navigate, resulting in challenges like meltdowns, overwhelm, or shutdowns. Every child’s sensory profile is different, and an occupational therapist can help you determine how to meet your child’s specific sensory needs. In the meantime, below are 3 types of activities you can include in your child’s daily schedule at home (the more, the better!) that may have a positive effect on their overall sensory regulation and happiness.
Jumping on a mini or full sized trampoline
Jumping over items placed on the floor
These are ways to incorporate jumping into daily play with your child. Not only do these activities provide proprioceptive sensory input which can be calming for some children, but they also increase a child’s gross motor strength, balance and coordination.
Make a trip to the local playground and push your child on the swingset or teach them how to independently swing
Buy a playset for your backyard
Install a swing in your house (make sure to follow safety requirements for this)
Make a blanket swing by attaching ends of the swing to each side of a table or having two adults hold either end of a blanket and swing a small child
Rocking in a rocking chair
Swaying in a hammock
3. Deep Pressure
Do a burrito roll with your child where they lay on one side of the blanket and then you roll them up in the blanket from one side of the blanket to the other and repeat
Have your child lay on their belly on the couch or bed and use your hands to push down directly on your child’s upper back a few times. Make sure to assess your child’s comfort with this and only apply as much pressure as is safe for your child.
Give a tight hug to your child and hold for a few seconds
The information listed above is not all inclusive and may not benefit every child depending on their individual sensory needs and challenges. If you think your child may have sensory processing challenges and benefit from an assessment and treatment plan to help improve your child’s daily functioning, please contact us to schedule a free occupational therapy consultation today! You may also visit our occupational therapy page for more information on pediatric occupational therapy and how it may help your child.