Pediatric OT Tips For The Holiday Season

Kids making cookies

It is known as a time for family and friends gathering, shopping, car trips to see the relatives, the list goes on and on. The holiday season is upon us! Many children and families find this time to be a struggle. For some, it is due to the excitement of the holiday, for others the holidays are overstimulating, and others are stressed by the unknown of the events to come. As we enter this season, Washington University Occupational Therapy Pediatric Services would like to help support pediatric families by offering some tips:

Implement an AM and PM routine during holiday break. Keep bedtimes and wake up times close to the same time as their school day schedule. Structuring the start and end of a child’s day is a way to normalize their day. Children are accustom to structure during their days from attending school. The structure will provide self-regulation and normalcy to their day

Create a visual schedule. Visual schedules help identify what is happening during the day. Children often are not the ones planning the day’s events. The unknown of what is going to happen often dysregulates them as they are used to the structure of their school day. Using a visual list of the day’s events can help the child be aware of what to expect. Lists could be written on a dry erase board, calendar, or index card. If your day’s events are not pre-known, start with just what you’re doing for the next three hours. Then update the plan at that time for the next three hours.

Pack a Travel Bag. Prepare a travel bag to entertain your child during long lines, long dinner meals and visiting with friends and family. Choose activities that promote self-regulation such as small Lego projects, coloring books, beading activities, activity books, reading books, small games, figurines, and snacks.

Bring Sensory Solution Bag. Prepare a bag with things to help your child manage environmental stimuli. Some children are more sensitive to noise and lights, and the business of the holiday season tests their limits. Being aware of what their sensitivities are will help you to prepare for outings, during this time. Children who are auditory sensitive may benefit from earplugs, headphones with calming music, or noise cancellation headphones. Visually sensitive children may benefit from hooded sweatshirts, ball caps, or shopping during times when it’s not so busy. If your child needs a break from the environment, find a quiet space with controlled lighting like a dressing room, bathroom, or car.

We wish you and your family a happy and joyous holiday season.

Washington University Occupational Therapy Pediatric Services offer services daily to children 0-18 yrs of age within our Oakland clinic, home setting (0-3 yrs), and school environments. Contact us today at (314) 286 – 1669 to set up an appointment.

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Categories: OT Clinical Services