A full disclaimer, I’m not a clinical expert of any kinda. I’m a mum on a constant mission to keeping my 4-year comfortable in her own skin. To keep her calm, relaxed and prevent irrational reactions to all unknowns. Mission impossible more like.
It’s most likely the cause of my quietness online in recent times. We needed family time to gather our thoughts, make plans and identify how best to help Missy.
You see Missy is one of a kind. I know, so unique right! But Missy has a mind that I cannot understand no matter how hard I try. It’s almost like she’s is trying her best to see into the future. To predict every eventuality. Asking a million questions. Always perceiving the danger, even when there is none.
Missy will stress when her colouring “is wrong”, she will be extremely nervous when meeting new kids. Going to the doctor, visiting the nurse, getting her haircut, all bring her to heightened levels of anxiety. The list goes on and on.
I’m sure there are books upon books filled with advice, all tried and tested by the best in their respective fields. But here‘s one thing that none of them are an expert on, Missy (well and Junior). The Dad and I are the best Missy experts that there can be. We are discovering all of her triggers and one by one we are figuring out how to address them.
So here are some of our tips that helped Missy, hopefully, you might find some useful.
A light projector
Each night after stories and just before Miss nops off we convert her room into a little light show. It’s so soothing, even for us. We bought ours on Amazon (not an ad). It has some inbuilt sounds, which we didn’t find brilliant so we just turn the sound down.
Oh, how relaxed we all are leaving Missy’s room each evening. We use lavender and orange. We rub some on her pillow and more on her favorite teddy. Between the lights and oils, Missy rooms is like a relaxation spa.
They come in so many spaces and sizes. But if anyone has discovered one that lasts longer than a week let me know :-) My handbag routinely consists of a multitude of things which Missy can squeeze. Stress balls, teddys, balls anything. Missy has sensed herself how squeezing something helps relax her and will frequently reach for something when she feels herself getting overwhelmed.
Missy attends an occupational therapy session once a month a the moment in Sensational Kids in Kildare. At her last session, her OT hide some marbles in some theraputty and Missy had to pull and pull to find them. She then popped them into a monster‘s mouth (a tennis ball with a hole cut on it). Missy loved it so much I’ve ordered some to have at home.
We picked up ours from sensational kids online and can’t wait for it to arrive.
Explaining what’s going to happen
We‘ve started to explain, within reason of course, any upcoming events/outings/appointments which we know Missy might struggle with. Last week it was a hospital appointment to get an x-ray. We told her a few days beforehand, practiced what we would do and reassured her. We slightly altered the language we use with her. Instead of saying “It’s just an x-ray, don’t be crying” we‘re trying to acknowledge her fear and comfort her. “I know it’s scary but Mum is here“. Granted on the inside I’m screaming, “get over it and just do it“. Not very child-friendly.
But we‘re getting there.
When we determine that Missy needed some help with sensory issues, we found some excellent animal exercises online. Initially, she was great completing these every morning, and they made an enormous difference to her mood each day. Not we try and get her to do any of them whenever we can. Below are the ones we tried and you can read more over at Raising an Extraorndinary Person.