- Ana Hernando, OTR, MOT
Stressed Out Kids? How to create an escape pod
You probably have a favorite spot in your home, one that is inviting to you and speaks to your soul. It beckons you to sit and be still for a few moments, maybe even read or better yet pray, and when you leave this spot you feel a little bit more “you”. Children also benefit from such a spot in our homes. This time of year is a wonderful opportunity to explore creating a space for your child to encourage their exploration and creative thought as well as escape from the stressors of everyday life. This space can also be used throughout the school year to increase your child’s attention and focus for doing homework. Observing your child will give you the clues to building your child’s optimal escape pod. Your investment is minimal and can be created with items you already own.
To create the actual space, find an unobtrusive area in the den, your child’s room or play room. A large plastic box, laundry basket, cardboard box, pop-up tent, or even the dining room table with a large quilt over it work well just keep in mind the size of your child. The idea is to create a cocoon like space, confining but not binding your child. She should be able to freely get in and out of the space as well as move around, curl into a ball and even lay on her tummy. Confined spaces increase a body’s self-awareness, spatial relations leading to the ability to organize and calm itself. These components help the sensory processing center of the brain to perform better which then helps your child to better focus and center themselves. Provide soft lighting and blankets, easy access to books, puzzles, paper, crayons, Legos, soft music choices like sounds of the rainforest or the ocean, and stuffed animals. Give permission for the space to meet your child’s needs. Believe it or not, once you give your child the permission with the boundaries clearly communicated, they will create a space that calls to their souls. This is your child’s sacred space and should never be used for timeouts or taken away as punishment. It is a place for your child to gather her thoughts and just BE. You may find it so effective that you create your own escape pod.
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