Sometimes being outside isn’t always an option, so kids get pent up energy – resulting in them finding ways to burn off the energy that are often frowned upon or unsafe. While some parents resort to tv, it only temporarily suspends the energy but doesn’t solve the problem itself – that children’s muscles are seeking stimulation for both sensory and growth purposes.
What’s called “maximum effort activities”. See below for a list of easy, at-home activities that will burn off some steam.
Children are simple yet complex human beings. They may be able to talk, ask for food, or ask to go outside, but they still lack the ability to communicate things and feelings they don’t understand. Heck even some adults have this problem!
When kids (babies, toddlers, preschoolers) can’t communicate what they don’t understand, their body dictates for them on their behalf.
Problem is, they can never understand if we don’t understand either. And then what happens? They grow up to be adults who struggle when their body signals to them urging for “more of this” and “less of that”.
Regardless, all parents should learn about sensory processing so they can better understand their children’s behaviours – or as some would call, misbehaviors. And of course, all parents should contact their doctor if they have any concerns about their child rather than diagnosing them theirselves as they could be missing something bigger.
So let’s talk about SPD.
Anyone can have Sensory Processing Disorder. The name can sound scary as many fear a title that ends with “disorder”. But SPD can be very deceiving, as parents typically see the symptoms as an issue with the child’s behaviour and discipline – and not as symptoms of sensory input and output struggles.
Any child, any human being actually, processes sensory input and output. Kids and babies are especially sensitive to this because, well, everything is developing still. They don’t necessarily have to have a disorder, per se, to be reacting to their sensory input and output. However, any child that’s more sensitive than others and are more active than others will show signs of under or over stimulation more easily than the rest.
The reality is that any child will start getting restless or irritated from under or over stimulation in one or all of the 8 (not 5) areas of their sensory inputs. Any child can have sensory processing struggles without it being a disorder. Its the degree and frequency of the struggles that determines that its an actual disorder.
For more information about identifying sensory under and over stimulation, I highly recommend the book, “Understanding Your Child’s Sensory Signals” and “Understanding Your Baby’s Sensory Signals”, both by Angie Voss, OTR.
Today I asked the parents what they wished others would ask them about
These were some of the answers.
• The birth story • How Dad is coping • How they can be supported • Learning about transgender children • If they’re okay/mental well-being • Permission before they promise a child something or set a limit with a child • How their kids are and how they can help or spend time with them. • If they need help cleaning • Do you need a break? • What their kids are learning or what they’re working on at home and how they can support that. • What their parenting approach is – to respect it and reinforce it
Sometimes people forget about respect, permission, boundaries, sleep, self-care… the list goes on. Sometimes parents get forgotten about, simply because they’re the parent.
Sometimes, all we need is some acknowledgement and validation 💝
I’m looking for a gentle advice for my almost 18 months old who will only fall asleep nursing. A little history: he is my second baby; and I had a birth injury and needed a long time to heal so we both got used to cosleeping and nursing to sleep, which worked out great at first, but there was a point when I realized what I created 😔. I’ve tried to gently break that habit earlier but it didn’t work and I gave up. I’m considering to just wean at this point because I’m tired of getting up several times at night 🥴😔. He just wants the breast to fall back asleep with (in his mouth). He sleeps in a floor bed in same room as his sister. I don’t believe in cry it out and looking for more of a gentle approach, if there are any. Thank you!
The Judgemental Mom’s Response:
Have you tried just giving him an actual cup of milk at bedtime? Thats how I weened my son off of nursing to sleep at this age. A 360 cup of milk and just rocking him. Which after turned into he was him laying in bed with his milk while I rubbed his tummy or back. Then it was he drinks his milk at, or around, bedtime, then he lays in bed and I rub his tummy. Then it turned into some nights he wouldn’t fall asleep so I would say “okay im going to let you settle down now I love you baby” and he would roll around for 5 minutes and pass out. Or I would sing a song to him over the monitor and he would pass out.
Growths spurts/sleep regressions are still hard on his sleep tho, hes 2.5 now. I dont see anything wrong with rocking him to being sleepy now. Any kiddo needs some extra connection from time to time. Keep in mind at/around 18 months its another big growth spurt so it might be even harder for you.
Take it slow and be easy on yourself and your expectations and remember that theres nothing wrong with co sleeping, nursing, or both!
What do you do about frequent stealing? (Almost 13yrs old – Food, money, objects from other’s homes and stores)
The Judgemental Mom’s Response:
Stealing at this age has more to it than meets the eye. If you dont have the type of relationship that will let him feel comfortable opening up about whats really going, maybe consider a behavioural therapist. At 13, the act of stealing is usually satisfying a feeling or emotional need they are lacking in another area in their life. Whether its miniscule items that just make them feel invincible and “better” than others (because someone or something is actually making them feel like they are lesser than) Or if its larger, more serious items that are fueling adrenaline and the naturally produced “reward hormone”. At 13, hes old enough to understand things are not just his for the taking, or an “oops oh well”. This isn’t just “sneaking”. Hes a young teenager. Maybe its actually a cry for help and to get noticed because hes lacking communication skills to talk about whatever else is going on.
When parents let their emotions get to them during situations with their kids (when they are not doing what the parents want), it begins to wear away at the relationship between the parent and child.
It can be frustrating when your child is refusing to get their shoes on, or get out the door or follow your plans for the day. You tell them once, you told them twice, and by the third time you’re screaming through tight lips, and they are returning the disposition because their agendas are different than yours. When parents allow the frustration and heightened emotions to take over them, they end up taking a step back from their relationship because they are trying to control the situation by controlling the child. Often with parents it comes down to putting threats or manipulation on the table, such as, “if you don’t put your shoes on right now, no more TV for the rest of the day!” Or, “if you put your shoes on and get in the car, you can have some juice”.
Oftentimes there’s no acknowledgement of the child’s agenda or feelings. Which in turn heightens the child’s want to push them away, especially in the moment, and disregard the parent’s wishes to do as they wish.
Until children are afraid of their parents, they will match the attitude and responses presented.
It’s not about obedience, its about kids’ feeling respected and heard, and not understanding why their parent’s agenda is more important than their own.
At the end of it, both parent and child are worn down from the intense emotions and situation; feeling emotionally bruised and battered as well as distanced from each other.
Have you ever wondered whether parents who always seem to stay calm, have a secret?
They do. It’s how they view their child.
So how do you change these outcomes in the situations? You have to enter them and exit them with your energy being calm. With your body and mind being peaceful. With calm energy you are focussed on each other; able to listen and enjoy each other’s presence. You can ask your daughter to get in the car and she simply does it. Or if she resists it,
you are able to think quickly enough to squat down on her eye level and commiserate with her about how frustrating it is to discontinue her activity, and then help her find a stopping point.
The two of you remain calm, listen to one another, and work together. The power struggle never occurs. There never has to be a power struggle.
Remember to pay attention to your interpretation of your child’s reactions.
As Author and Doctor Mary Sheedy Kurcinka writes, parents are quick to assume that: she’s manipulating me, he’s testing me, he’s being defiant, he doesn’t like me, she’s being out of control, she’s trying to get away with everything, he intentionally makes me late for work.
We need to realize that children lack the ability to communicate what their heart and mind truly desires. So their body shows it in their actions. They don’t have the reasoning of an adult. We all know an adult would think to themselves, “well I don’t want to be passive aggressive, or even outright aggressive, I should just tell them how I’m feeling” right? Your job as parents to teach them how to do that
I’ve learned that sometimes all a person needs is a hand to hold and a heart to understand.”
Dr. Kurcinka is an award-winning lecturer and parent educator. She provides private consultations and workshops nationally and internationally for parents and professionals serving Children.