Helping Children Cope with CelebrationsPosted Jul 04, 2017
By: Violet Soliz
The month of July begins and the anticipation of celebrating Independence Day increases with every passing day. The warm heat from the summer sun, delicious food, being surrounded by family and friends, and of course, fireworks, to look forward to. Fireworks are loved by many, but if you are a parent to an adopted child, your child may have a different experience. Some adopted children have a condition known as Sensory Processing Disorder or similar condition that affects how sensitive the child’s senses are. For many children, this time of celebration and festivities might be a bit too much for them to handle. But there are several precaution you can take as a parent to make sure this holiday is a fun, relaxing time for you and your child.
Fireworks are one of the main sensory stimulating activities for Fourth of July. Prepare your child for fireworks beforehand by showing them a video of the display so that your child knows what to expect and so that you can have an idea of how they might react in person. Keep the volume low the first time you watch the video. You can gradually increase the volume during subsequent viewings, and be sure to notice how your child reacts to the louder sound. To be safe for the actual display, give your child noise reduction headphones or earplugs. Do not forget to practice with your child putting in earplugs as they can be a little tricky. Let your child know beforehand there may be a crowd also viewing the fireworks so that they can expect many people around them. Watch the display in a less crowded area if crowds make your child uncomfortable so your child can fully enjoy the display instead of being focused on their surroundings. If your child experiences sensory discomfort from bright lights, bring a hat or pair of sunglasses they can wear during the show.
The time spent before the fireworks is also important to prepare for. While waiting for the fireworks to begin, or any other activity your child may participate in during the day, bring comforting toys and snacks your child enjoys as a distraction from the wait. Fidget toys will prove handy throughout the day to prevent over-stimulation of your child’s senses and be sure to give your child plenty of water so that they can stay hydrated beneath the hot sun.
Is your celebration going to involve more than just fireworks? Here are a few more helpful suggestions for the day:
- Be an advocate for your child. Educate your family and friends that your child is sensitive to senses so that they can understand your child’s needs and how they interact.
- It is important to make sure your child knows that you will be available to help them whenever they need it during the day. So take breaks from crowds, activities, and the sun. Do what works best for your child to prevent them from being overwhelmed. That might mean a break at the beginning of every hour for ten minutes, or it might mean you and your child creating a safe word for them to tell you when they are ready for a break. Pick a shady area you and your child can spend time calmly together in with a book, puzzle, or play figurines.
- Pay attention to how your child is experiencing the day and how they are interacting with others. If you notice your child beginning to get anxious or overwhelmed, attempt to calmly talk to them before a meltdown occurs. Let them know how you noticed they were starting to feel a certain way so that they can learn their own cues. This will help them prepare themselves in future scenarios for when they are older so that they can have more control over their situations.
- Participating in at least one activity allows your child to feel like they are involved in a meaningful American tradition. Do not be disheartened if at some point during the day you decide it is best for you and your child to go home. Many firework displays are filmed for TV viewing or can be watched on youtube, so you and your child can enjoy the display in the comforting environment of your living room.
- Other helpful items for your child include bug spray to detract those pesky mosquitos, sunscreen to avoid painful sunburns, goggles for a pool party, and a cool portable fan.
Focus on enjoying the time you and your child experience the fun holiday of Fourth of July! That may be spent at a BBQ, parade, fireworks display, or having a calm evening at home. Create traditions that your child will look forward to next summer. Have fun celebrating the fun no matter what way is best for your family!