Is it more valuable to have a quick win or long term success?
As a parent of a child with sensory, learning, or attention difficulties, sometimes it’s easy to go for the quick wins and immediate rewards. The marketing world tells us that is exactly what we need.
Post a cute picture and get 100 Likes on Facebook.
Play fun apps, earn points, get rewards.
Make games and TV programs visual – your child with ADHD will look attentive and focused. You know parents and kids love cute pics and videos, color, and emojis!
These things are considered “quick wins.” They are what keep us, and our children, playing online games, posting to social media, and doing things that we think are working – at least in the short term.
Let’s face it, both parents and kids have been pulled into a digital world of “quick wins”
But as parents, we also know that when a child is struggling in school, not able to maintain social relationships, having daily meltdowns, or can’t fall asleep at night – there isn’t a “quick win” in the world that immediately solves the problem.
When it comes to behavior, sometimes we try to go for the “quick win” with our children because we are trying to keep the peace for another day and minimize the stressors in our household.
Meltdown at the store? Put a reward system in place for getting a toy every time they make it through a shopping trip without the embarrassing kicking, screaming, and crying.
Picky eating at dinner? Go with mac and cheese or a daily dose of pancakes – your child will be happy (for that moment) but you still worry about their health and the sugar may even contribute to more behaviors in the long run.
Don’t get me wrong – immediate rewards CAN work in the short term. And let’s face it, sometimes as
Really creating lasting change and teaching the habits that make our child successful takes persistence, patience, and sometimes “putting your foot down” on your own behavior as well as theirs. Deep down you know that this is is a journey that you and your child have to go on as a team.
If you download the 6 Step Guide to Optimizing Your Sensory Diet, you can use it as a framework to tune into the sensory needs of your child and create a plan that will improve both your child’s behavior and ability to succeed in the long run. It is totally worth it!
What can you do starting today to begin this process?
#1 Support Calming and reduce stress via rhythm, pressure, and respiration
Aromatherapy, breathing/blow toys, weighted blankets, calming colors on the wall (soft blue, lavender, seafoam greens), rocking chairs
#2 Start morning and afternoon calming routines
Use rhythm, pressure, and respiration activities regularly to reduce stress hormones (cortisol) and enhance brain growth, creating more moments of calm.
#3 Do Energizing and Activating movement as a family
Spin, jump, do punches, twisties, and windmills to release BDNF – a powerful facilitator of brain growth. Combine the right movements to get the senses to create and strengthen brain connections so that neurons that fire together wire together. Get started by checking out one of our Body Activated Learning Energizing exercise sequences
#4 Use Regrouping activities throughout the day
Use stretching, breathing, and eye cupping/hiding in tents to reduce visual overload, recover from extended sitting, and reduce stressors triggered by the multisensory environment. More reduction in brain-killing cortisol (stress hormone) allows the BDNF to do its job. Better melatonin production helps improve sleep.
Take Away Message:
We are talking about balance. It’s not enough to just “de-stress” – (And there are so many products out there selling ways to de-stress, so we must need it both as parents and kids!) I can now buy sensory diet tools in Bed, Bath and Beyond! Squishy sensory balls have dropped in price from $7 to $3. This is proof positive that the need for supporting self-regulation is now the norm rather than the exception. We all struggle with wanting quick wins while also wanting life-changing results so our children are happy, successful, and fulfilled. We want our children to have feelings of empowerment, confidence to explore the world, and be able to grow without fear. Your patience and perseverance as a parent to make decisions that are not always easy but you know are best will make that possible.
Patience and Perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish – John Quincy Adams
Written by: Aubrey Schmalle, OTR/L
Speaker, Author, Sensory integrative occupational therapist, and parent