Holidays such as Thanksgiving and Christmas can be overwhelming for adults and children alike, especially children with sensory processing disorders (SPD). Holidays entail being around a lot of family and friends, eating lots of different foods, and oftentimes getting off of a “typical” daily routine. Here are some great heavy work activities to help your child feel more regulated:
5 Activities For Children To Regulate Themselves:
1. Raking leaves: Have your child help you rake leaves in the yard or at a park nearby; once they create a sufficient pile of leaves, have your child take a big jump into the leaves to give them lots of proprioceptive input. Change up this activity a little bit by having your child log roll through the pile of leaves to provide them with vestibular input and helps to work on their motor planning skills.
2. Pulling wagon/stroller: After a long day full of eating and socializing, take your child outside for some fresh air by going for a walk around the neighborhood. Have your child push/pull a younger sibling in a wagon or a stroller to provide them with heavy work, and help improve trunk control and upper body strength. If there is not a younger sibling to push/pull, feel free to place household items into a wagon instead to increase the load (e.g. lots of blankets, dumbbells, balls etc).
3. Stirring recipes: Involve your child in preparing your feast by allowing them to stir the batter and/or roll out the dough for your favorite recipes (e.g. pie crust, potatoes, stuffing, cookies etc.) Stirring resistive batter provides your child with heavy work, and also helps to work on hand and upper body strength, motor planning, and following directions.
4. Building a scarecrow: Bring out your family’s creative side by building a scarecrow together. Have your child create a cardboard scarecrow for an inside project, decorating it with glitter and puffballs. Cardboard provides a resistive material for your child to cut through, making it more of a challenge, and helping to work on hand and upper body strength. A life-size scarecrow can also be made by using old clothes stuffed with straw or crumpled newspaper for an outside project. Stuffing old clothing works on motor planning, heavy work, and fasteners depending on the clothing used (e.g. buttons, ties, and zippers).
5. Football: Fall is the perfect time of year to get outside and work on ball skills and hand-eye coordination by tossing a football around. Teaching your child the rules of football and the goals of the game help to work on following directions and being okay with winning/losing. Add resistance by having your child wear wrist or ankle weights or carry a filled backpack (e.g. folded blanket, books, stuffed animals etc). Add an extra challenge by incorporating various ways to get across the football field, such as: single-leg hops, frog jumps, skipping, and galloping; this will help your child work on motor planning, body awareness, and trunk control.