Since it’s summertime and we get to be outside more, I thought I would talk about parks, playgrounds, outdoor pools, etc. In one of the original posts, I talked about utilizing the parks and playgrounds to your advantage. So I encouraged getting there, but I’ve had lots of parents tell me “getting there is easy, leaving is the problem”, “they will have a tantrum..scream”, etc. You know it’s tough, you remember being a kid having fun, mom or dad comes over and says “we’re leaving” (short and quick). I remember as a kid hearing that and I’m sure my parents had to manage a few of my blowouts...(cue emotional 🧠 brain!)
There is a lot going on for both of you at that moment. You might even be thinking in your head, "oh no, here we go again....?
Could be thinking: “oh gosh everyone will be watching me”, “should I ...”.
I’ve learned that to our childhood experiences can also shape how we respond to situations like this.
There are ways to leave a park and the two of you feel calm and collected.
Utilize verbal warnings (e.g. "k we have 5 more minutes before we go"). If it seems they are tuning you out 😒, you can get closer to them and aim for more eye contact/ attention so they can focus more on your words. This can usually work well on most days, however.....
if it seems at the end of 5 minutes we might still have a full-scale meltdown of some sort for whatever reason...it's time to start thinking about the next steps...
If you look back to my original post about outdoor parks, you’ll recall I talked about proprioceptive input (lots of input to the muscles and joints of the body) and this helps calm a little one’s body. Since they might be upset or about to be upset, engage them in those types of “heavy work” tasks so you know their body is feeling better as you transition to leave. Once they have participated in "heavier"type activities, you can goingreinstate the ‘we are going to leave".
There are a lot of layers to transitions and if you feel this can be a major issue, feel free to reach out and/or subscribe to the newsletter for additional resources.
Every child is unique and if you are having daily struggles that a general strategy isn’t cutting it anymore, you can benefit from a visit with an Occupational Therapist in your area.
Thanks for reading!
Jessica Earle, Occupational Therapist