Transitions for children can oftentimes be a struggle. Even more so for kids with sensitivities to the world that surrounds them. Back to school is a prime example of where we see a variety of difficult behaviors arise due to these sensitivities. For example in the month of August just before school starts some children may stop sleeping through the night or even start crawling back into the bed with their parents.
These difficulties with transitions for children does not make them “bad” kids.
Rather it is simply that they just process their environment different than that of a typical child. Sometimes their stress can be exhibited through anxious behaviors, such as meltdowns, challenges with schoolwork and even as food allergies or texture sensitivities.
This really goes back to the birth process. We have these primitive reflexes that help us be born and survive our first year of life. After that point, those reflexes are supposed to integrate with the rest of the nervous system, which is not the case with these sensitive children. Instead what we end up with is a sensory overlay. When babies are not hitting all of their necessary milestones in sequence it can lead to this sensory overlay. This can lead to sensitivities when it comes to changes in daily life.
– Introduce More Textures Early On –
I believe we are seeing more of this type of overlay due to the fact that our world and the way we do things has changed. Babies are put in chairs, swings and jolly jumpers rather than being allowed to crawl around on the floor and getting into the dirt. We need to introduce more textures early on so that their sensory systems develop further within their first year of life.
In the preschool years, we can support their nervous systems by taking them to the playground. With all the layers and varying heights of the equipment their synchronicity development grows. Being at the playground opens doors to tactile sensory input, interactions with other kids. They touch wood and grass which connect them to the earth and ground their inner core into a more peaceful state.
Transitions for children with this sensory overlay can lead those around them to believe that there is a behavioral problem only with a child. What most of us don’t understand is these issues go so much deeper. Children in this category need to have the whole picture looked at. We need to address their nutrition, their gut, their digestion, joint development and exercise habits. Balancing their nervous system will help them to interpret the information that is coming in differently.
– Not Only Difficult For The Child –
At home, difficult transitions for children can be very wearing on the adults. Having to constantly get after a child, repeat your words over and over leads to frustration and exhaustion on the part of the parent. As well as shut down or acting out on the part of this child. There are some tactics that can be put in place to help alleviate this cycle of frustrations on both sides.
Lists are beneficial for kids at any stage but even more so here. Often in the morning when getting ready for school kids tend to go into what we like to call “molasses mode”. Where they are moving so slowly when getting dressed, eating and brushing their teeth. Giving them a list of things to check off as they go allows them a place to refer back to when they start getting distracted by other activities.
#2 WARNINGS –
Warnings are also great for helping transitions for children run smoother. If you can pre-plan and prep them for what they are going to be doing in a day then they can be more prepared for the change. This could entail speaking with them about what is going to be happening the next day as part of their bedtime routine. It could also mean starting the discussion about an upcoming change as early as a week before. This will allow time for questions and more detailed information every couple of days leading up to the big day.
I think the sooner you can start a routine the easier the transitions for the child will be.
For example when it comes to the return of school in September –
- Making sure that bedtimes are getting earlier in mid-August.
- Starting the morning routine with getting up at the same time every day
- Going to bed at the same time every night.
- Ensuring that they are eating well.
Routines do not only apply to back to school. It just simply means doing the everyday activities in the same fashion each day of the week. This allows for a certain amount of calm in a child with sensitivities. They can be calmer because they know what to expect.
– CHILDREN ARE ALL DIFFERENT –
Just because it worked well for one child does not always guarantee it will be a winner with every child. The best thing a parent can be is understanding. When that child is moving really slow, realize that most times they are not doing it on purpose. They are not always trying to irritate us. There could actually be some avoidance mechanism kicking in. Maybe there is some stress and anxiety going on underneath because of what they are moving into. Anytime there is unexplained behavior, the biggest reason seems to be the inability for these sensitive kids to cope with their day. If that is the case we need to look at the underlying patterns and try to figure out the whys of what is happening.
Awareness that something is going on within your child is the starting point. Next, we need to dig deeper and seek solutions to the struggles we are noticing our child is having. If you are not getting the answers from traditional areas then you need to look deeper. Think back to the situations that have arisen and ask what is it that could be setting them off. Talk to your child and really listen to what they say they are feeling. Perhaps then look into a massage therapist, nutritionist, naturopath, and chiropractor so that you can diagnose the whole picture instead of just one small window.
No child means to behave badly.
There is always an underlying cause that we as parents need to figure out. Then work to find ways that best support them in their journey.
1 in 6 children today are diagnosed or labeled with some kind of neurodevelopmental condition. As a society, we need to make some changes and start supporting our kid’s neurodevelopment before they’re even born.
Strawberries and Sunshine is a clinic in Port Coquitlam that can help families do just that. This clinic is built around the philosophy of supporting the difficulties in transitions for children. As well as their entire family as a whole.
Transitions for children are not only difficult for them. Rather their intense nature can also be very draining for those that live with and love them. At Strawberries and Sunshine, the child can be supported. While at the same time Mom and or Dad can get a massage to relieve their stress. They also have options for the other children in the family to talk to someone about how their intense sibling makes them feel. The staff at Strawberries and Sunshine work to help find the answers that will best support the child and in turn the whole family.
This is not about laying blame as the issues arise from varying of aspects of our current ways of living. Our cleaning supplies, products we use in the home, our outside environment are all contributing factors in the neurological breakdown of children.