Child Care Australia
Use Sensory Resources to Regulate Emotions and Behaviour
Over the last year, children have been exposed to more than we could have imagined or expected. From lockdowns and isolation to wearing masks, and parents losing jobs and income. For many, the everyday normal has changed a lot in the last 18 months, and life has been incredibly stressful in one way or another.
Children on the Autism Spectrum that are experiencing disrupted routines could be left feeling anxious. The lack of contact with teachers, therapists, and other key people in their life will mean reduced access to essential therapy services and resources, leaving them stressed and confused at the sudden changes.
Maintaining emotional stability is essential, and ensuring children have access to the right tools and equipment will allow them to continue thriving, even during these times of uncertainty and change.
HOW DO EMOTIONS AFFECT US IN OUR ENVIRONMENT?
When we are worried, anxious, or feeling fearful, it can affect us in many ways. Emotions can affect physical health, mental health, memory and learning, creativity, the way we interact with peers, and how we engage and contribute to everyday activities.
By understanding how we feel and using tools and strategies to help us feel better, we provide children with lifelong skills that can be utilised in every aspect of life. Teaching emotional awareness and management allows children to feel in control. Being in control of emotions and reactions helps build confidence.
TIP FOR MANAGING EMOTIONS
Using visual tools, check-in with children regularly to identify how they are feeling. Use Emoji face printouts to create an emotion chart. Get children to check in, in the morning when arriving at the Centre, after lunch, and the afternoon. Identifying where the children are emotionally will allow you to manage behaviour before it gets out of control.
Once you have identified the off-balance children, you can implement strategies to bring them back to balance.
Provide options of activities that might help them feel better, such as stretching in a Body Sock, sitting with a Weighted Pet on their lap, having 5 minutes of quiet time in a PeaPod, playing with a Hand Fidget.
This will help children reset and find their happy place before engaging in the activities reducing meltdowns, angry outbursts, adverse reactions, and bad behaviour. Teaching children how to identify feelings and emotions will allow them to understand themselves better, creating confidence within them.
Understanding how to identify and manage our emotions is the same as tying shoelaces, holding a pencil, or learning to count until someone teaches you how; you cannot be expected to know?
SENSORY TOOLS, THE SMART OPTION FOR MANAGING EMOTIONS AND BEHAVIOUR IN THE CLASSROOM
When children feel connected, safe, and secure and have a sense of belonging, they will be ready to engage in the activities on offer. They will interact with their peers better, they will learn more, and their creativity will shine.
HOW CAN SENSORY RESOURCES HELP?
Pressure – Deep Pressure Stimulation (DPS) is firm, but gentle pressure applied that relaxes the nervous system. This pressure can be applied using tools such as the PeaPod Sensory Cushion, Pressure Vests or Rolling Pins; this triggers a reaction in the body, creating an overall sense of calm and peace. Other positive effects include decreasing anxiety, improves social interaction, increases happiness, and improves focus.
https://www.specialneedsaustralia.org/blogs/sensory-product-update/7-quick-and-easy-ways-to-help-your-child-calm-down-using-deep-pressure-therapy to read the full article on using how to use Deep Pressure Therapy.
Weighted Pets –Place the Weighted Pet Bulldog or Weighted Hound on the lap for sensory input and stability, providing calm feedback to aid in concentration.
Chewing –Chewing provides proprioceptive feedback to the jaw, which is very calming and organising. There are many studies out there that prove chewing reduces anxiety and increases concentration. Visit the Special Needs Australia Sensory Blog How and Why chewing works to learn more.
Routine Charts – creating confidence and allow children to own their day by providing visual routine charts in the Centre. Something like a class planner can display the activities for the day. Preparing for what comes next reduces stress and anxiety and increase independence. Complement the Visual Board with Time Timer to encourage time management and to help understand the concept of time.
Emotions are contagious. Helping children manage their emotions before getting out of control will help maintain a harmonious environment for everyone. Teaching emotion management early on will set children up for success, teaching life skills that will carry through to adulthood.