5 Ways to Change a Bad Sensory Day

Every parent understands the mysteriously frustrating “bad day” that pops up from time to time. With F and his sensory processing struggles, sometimes we get thrown for a major loop when he wakes up sensitive to EVERYTHING.

Yogurt touches his hand, meltdown. His brother bothers him, meltdown. It takes a few extra seconds to get his socks on, meltdown.

It’s even more fun when he comes home from school with news of one of these days and we’re left picking up some broken pieces trying to put him back together.

We’ve learned a few things about these days and how to make sense of them all.

#1 just. add. water.

The most universal truth to parenting a child of any age. If their mood is off the charts, put that child in some water. F loves bath time and asks for it several times a day. I have to redirect him most of the time because we can’t realistically take baths that often. But on the tough days, I add some water.

#2 add something NEW.

For example, last week the kids were driving me bonkers. There was plenty of whining and snack fetching with no fix. I pulled out some glow sticks and let them take a glow stick bath (just. add. water.) and it turned our afternoon around.

#3 get outside

Turn off the tv (I’m totally not above tv parenting, but this helps on the rough days), put on a jacket, and go outside. If your child likes sensory play, let them cover themselves in mud. If that makes them squeamish, play chase or swing or just explore without touching. Whatever your child can handle at that moment. Some days I find my toddler blissfully sorting gravel, and well, that’s great independent play.

#4 give them ten minutes

Every child needs connection. Some days I’m touched out and want any excuse to just sit down by myself in quiet. These are usually the days when my children are aching for connection and the behaviors skyrocket. Put on your big girl pants (yes this is what I have to tell myself) and go play, one on one, with each child. Give them ten full minutes doing what they love with them, no distractions. I find that my kiddos do much better playing independently after this time.

#5 move your bodies

If your child can handle noise, put on some music and silly dance together. If they are sensitive to noise, do some children’s yoga or go for a walk. Meet them where they are at and get some wiggles out.

Lastly, give yourself some grace. These are the days when I’m more likely to lose my mind. If you feel yourself getting worked up, just. add. water. Yes, for yourself. Drink some ice water, take a shower (if you can), dip your toes into the kids glow stick bath, whatever helps, and take care of yourself too.

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