The beach: sensory haven or nightmare?
Posted: 20 May, 2016
By: Annemarie Lombard
Section: Education, Parenting, Wellness
The blowing wind and sea sand… stimulate the touch sensors
The sound of the sea, waves and people… stimulate the hearing sensors
The smells of the sea, suntan lotion, kelp… stimulate the smell sensors
Put this all together for a sensory root (the super-sensitive souls in our lives)…
The result… sensory overload, crying, whining, tantrums… you know the rest
Remember the following, it might just save you from wanting to pack up and go home:
* Go to the beach early in the morning, it is quieter, your child is rested, can cope with more and it is usually less windy.
* Dress your child in a tight hat and tight-fitting swimming gear, the deep pressure is often calming. It will also reduce the feeling of the wind blowing on the child’s skin.
* When using suntan lotion, don’t put it directly on your child’s skin! First, put it in your hand, rub between your palms and smear it on your child’s body using firm strokes.
* The use of a beach mat to sit on if your child is too aversive to the sand is OK.
* Playing in wet sand will potentially be better than dry sand: wet sand will be “harder” to move and let the child use more muscle work versus dry sand which is light and ticklish. Heavy, muscle work is calming; therefore take out the spades, buckets and sand toys.
* Chewing gum is a huge relief…I know what some of you are thinking now…but give it a try. It has less potential to get full of sand (hopefully it stays within the mouth) and the chewing of the mouth muscles will calm your child and reduce feelings of overload.
* Using earphones with music can be magical in filtering out all the background noise. Although it has potential for anti-social behavior, use it as a last resort when things just get too overloaded and out-of-control.
* A quiet time mid-day will help the child to feel calmer for the rest of the afternoon and early evening. If they don’t want to sleep, put a calming playlist on, and add the headphones… coming from the Number 1 anti-TV supporter…I know, we all have to break the rules sometimes… just CONTROL the time spent on these activities.
* Pre-warn your child about what is going to happen! It ALWAYS makes it easier for them to anticipate the next step.
* Above all: have fun, laugh, don’t fret the small stuff and relax!
PS. Sensory stuff is useful for both children and adults…