That title’s a mouthful! Try saying it seven times……It’s almost time to wish our country a Happy Birthday! This means new sights, smells, outside time, family events, and of course BIG loud booms. Add in the summer heat and your child may experience super sensory overload or meltdowns. As always, an ounce of preparation is worth a pound of cure and prepping for the event will help to decrease anxiety for both you and your child.
Here are seven ‘Out of the POCKET Tips‘ for you:
1) Make a plan. Discuss the events of the day beginning with getting up in the morning. Make a schedule with check-off boxes so that children know what to expect. Explain that you may be eating outside and with a group of people. Talk about where you will be watching the fireworks.
2) Visit the area where you’ll be viewing the fireworks. My children need to know the location ahead of time. We’ve even visited the area in at dusk and with a flashlight. If possible, allow your child to choose from a few areas you have pre-determined. Giving children a choice always helps them to feel more in control.
3) Make an escape plan. When a child moves into fight or flight mode, his reactions are CHEMICALLY driven. This means that his body releases stress hormones in response to something he perceives as dangerous. Often times, fleeing the area is the child’s response. Plan where to go if/when a meltdown occurs. Map it out ahead of time and make sure all family and friends are aware of the plan.
4) Use noise-cancelling headphones or earplugs. Another option is to allow kids to listen to calming music via earphones during fireworks. Sacred Earth Drums CDs can provide grounding rhythms. Other children may prefer soothing sounds of classical music. Mozart is a great option. (Links are provided to my Amazon store for your convenience.)
5) Listen to sounds and videos of fireworks prior to the event. Our Unique Sound-Eaze and School-Eaze CDs contain
home and community sounds that children commonly fear. The sounds are recorded professionally with vocals and rhythm to make listening to sounds a bit more comfortable and fun. Fireworks, parade, and carnival are all included! Allow your child to control the volume of the sound. While listening, use a weighted lap pad or blanket to provide calming sensory input. Do the same while watching the actual fireworks show. Repeating and rehearsing an activity brings familiarity and helps to build connections in the brain instead of causing panic or fight and flight reactions. The more you practice, the better the outcome will be.
6) During the family picnic give your child his own job. Remember that heavy work activities such as push, pull, lift, and carry are generally calming. Allow him to help arrange the chairs or picnic area. Don’t forget to complete sensory activities on the days prior to and on the holiday to ensure consistent regulation of the sensory system.
7) Allow her to take a break from the action. Our family uses ‘I NEED A BREAK’ cards. The cards are small, subtle, and can be handed to an adult inconspicuously. We all become overwhelmed in certain social settings. Taking a break in an area with hand fidgets, a tent, pillows, bean bags, and low lighting helps to calm kids down. Provide paper and a writing utensil so kids may draw or write about their emotions.
I hope your family has a safe and happy Independence Day! Let me know how the tips worked for you.