Self-Calming Tools For The Excitable Or Anxious Child

Health & Medical Blog

Small children often have issues with sensory overload and anxiety, and it can be a frustrating task for parents as they try to find ways to help an oversensitive child cope. There are various products available, however, that can help children learn self-calming behaviors.   

How do you know if your child can benefit from self-calming products?

Self-calming products can help children who have certain disorders that include sensory issues, like autism or ADHD, where overstimulation in loud, crowded areas can be a problem. However, self-calming products can also help children who are simply excitable or easily upset. Self-calming products help a child feel comforted and reassured and can provide a sense of control over his or her own environment. The self-calming products act like a tool that helps your child focus his or her attention away from whatever is causing stress while he or she learns to take deep breaths and work through the emotions.

What types of self-calming products are available?

There are numerous self-calming products available today. Some can be purchased and some can even be made at home:

Self-calming tools often work to help desensitize a child through proprioceptive activities (ones that feel good on the muscles and joints), tactile activities (involving touch), and oral activities (chewing and sucking). 

The best ones for your particular child are whatever fits easily into your lifestyle and whatever you can take with you when you expect to be somewhere that could cause your child anxiety. Keep in mind that a product that's unobtrusive is best—it takes about 20 minutes for the human body to calm down and return to normal once a person becomes stressed. 

How do you use a self-calming product effectively?

Children don't automatically know how to use a self-calming product. Adults often have to model the behavior that the child needs to adopt a few times and encourage the use of self-calming tools before a child will begin to use the tool independently. 

The first step in the process is introducing the self-calming tool to your child and teaching him or her to focus on the object as a source of comfort. The self-calming tool, like a weighted blanket or a comfort vest, should be offered to the child quietly and calmly. Try to focus your child on the feel of the object on his or her body, under his or her hands, or in his or her mouth (depending on what it is). Encourage your child to focus on the object and take slow, deep breaths until he or she calms down.

Expect progress to be slow at the outset. However, once you find the right object, your child may quickly start to associate it with comfort and begin to actively look for the self-help item when he or she is stressed. If you're having trouble deciding if this a good idea for your child, consider discussing the issue with your pediatrician (find more information here). Your child's doctor may be able to make a specific recommendation, based on your child's unique needs.


11 April 2016