As the festive season approaches, the air is filled with excitement, joy, and the promise of memorable gatherings. Sensational Kids understands the importance of making the holidays enjoyable for every child. In this blog post, we’ll share some practical tips from Dana Katz Murphy, Clinical Manager and Occupational Therapist, to help parents create a sensory-friendly experience for their children during the festive season. From managing bright lights to advocating for your child’s needs, these insights aim to make the holidays a time of celebration for everyone in the family. Let’s dive into strategies that foster a harmonious and joyous atmosphere, ensuring that every child can fully participate in the magic of the season.
- Be mindful of bright, flashing lights and busy visual environments. Opt for Christmas lights set to a steady glow. Consider allowing your child to wear a hoodie, a peaked cap, or have sunglasses on hand for busy, brightly-lit spaces. Limit time in such environments, especially if bright lights bother your child.
- Select a few events that your child will enjoy, and don’t feel pressured to attend every single one.
- Identify sensory-friendly events or choose to attend activities during off-peak times. Prepare your child by showing them pictures of the event or creating a short social story if possible.
- Maintain as much consistency in routines as possible during this bustling time. Prepare your child in advance for any changes or new activities.
- Carry tools that help regulate your child on outings, such as ear defenders, a weighted teddy or blanket, fidgets, chew toys, chewy snacks, a water bottle with a straw, and a favourite book or activity. Your child can carry these in a small backpack, which also aids in regulation.
- Have a plan in place to leave an event if your child becomes overwhelmed or distressed.
- Inform visitors or the people you are visiting about your child’s needs and preferences, such as not enjoying hugs or kisses, needing a quiet space, or preferring their own food. Don’t hesitate to advocate for your child.
- If your child struggles with food or oral sensitivities, bring snacks or meals that your child is comfortable eating. Avoid expecting them to try new or unfamiliar foods in new environments.
- Continue to use regulation strategies that work for your child during this busy and often overwhelming festive period. Adjust the frequency if needed.