Ways to Calm Kids Down Using Proprioceptive Input
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I’ve talked a lot about how stressful this past year has been for children and teens in Florida. Often, when kids are stressed, anxious, or overwhelmed it can partially be due to the fact that the sensory system is overwhelmed or overstimulated. As occupational therapists, we can help kids and teens calm down by organizing their sensory system.
As I’ve talked about in prior blogs, we have 8 different senses: tactile (touch), visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), gustatory (taste), olfactory (smell), proprioception (body awareness), vestibular (movement), and interoception (organs).
Just like the vestibular system, the proprioceptive system can be used to help calm an upset or overwhelmed child.
The proprioceptive system (sense) is the system that helps us determine where our bodies, limbs, and muscles are in space. Aka it is the sense that helps determine our body awareness. For a more in-depth description of the proprioception system, check out this article by the Star Institute.
Sometimes, offering proprioceptive input during times of stress or anxiety, or crying can help children and teens calm down. We receive this input via our muscles, joints, and inner ear.
Many people have actually used proprioceptive input for calming, without realizing, when they pat/tap the back of their upset baby to calm.
Here are some common ways that OTs recommend to increase proprioceptive input for older children and teens:
- Jumping on a trampoline
- Pushing and rolling play-doh
- Brushing Protocol (only if recommended by YOUR OT)
- Body weight activities (animal jumps, push-ups, etc)
- Helping with chores such as carrying the groceries or laundry
- Going for a bike ride
Some children may be under or over-responsive to proprioception information – check out the OT Toolbox for some common signs.
If you are concerned that your child may have difficulty processing certain sensory information, I recommend consulting with an occupational therapist before making any changes.
This is something we can do for you at OT 4 ME!
We offer a FREE first call with an occupational therapist to discuss your concerns and some possible ways that we can help! All you have to do is fill out this simple form, email Samantha@theot4me.com, or call/text 561-223-1620 to set up a time to chat.
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Let’s make healthy fun,
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OT 4 ME
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