I just spoke with an individual who was volunteering in a church nursery to take care of children while parents were attending a meeting. She described several children who came into the nursery who were insistent their parents should not have left them. With pouting lips, tears and displays of strong will, no one (except their returning parents) could calm them, no matter what. This made attending the meeting difficult for the participants and for the nursery staff.
Sensory strategies like touch can engage an insistent child
After trying a considerable number of strategies including reasoning, consoling or diverting the children, the volunteer simply grabbed a book with a tactile covering and began reading.
As she read, the sad toddlers began to look at the book. When she suggested they could touch the soft covering, they did. She continued the process of inviting them to touch until they finished the book. Then one toddler chose another book for her to read. As they engaged in the story, everyone was happy.
I think this is a common situation among childcare programs almost everywhere.
All the coaxing and other strategies proved futile until the volunteer used kind words and a touch-book to regulate the children so they could become reasonable. The children literally transformed by the touch of this book. The tactile strategy helped these children refocus and become much calmer.
Every childcare center should be equipped with sensory items to help children regulate.
Sensory strategies could be as simple as handing a child a tactile toy. Or having him bounce on a little trampoline. Or have her discover some tactile items sitting in a box on a table. These easy sensory options could prevent the typical frustration accompanying all those strategies (like above) that do not work.
Lakeside Educational Network and Montgomery Early Learning Centers are co-sponsoring a conference this weekend.
Saturday, January 31st, at Montgomeryville County Community College, approximately 300 professionals who are caregivers for children will attend our Educate the Heart Conference. Our focus and goal is to equip caregivers with knowledge and skills to use more brain-based strategies in their classrooms, to help children self-regulate.
Hopefully, this will be an exciting time as we look forward to helping these wonderful professionals create positive environments with new tools, to foster touch moments with insistent children who are struggling to regulate, just like this volunteer I described above.
Don’t we want to help all caregivers to be aware, clear and confident in how they help children through difficult, dysregulated moments?
We anticipate equipping these professionals to help children calm, have peace and be able to relate to their teachers and peers so they can better learn and grow. We are looking forward to this opportunity to share with those in attendance.
Gerry Vassar, President/CEO, Lakeside Educational Network