I have recognized during the time that I’ve been teleworking that my two-year-old goes through periods in which he turns into a wrecking ball. He will be playing appropriately, then the toys start crashing and flying as he is wrestling or bouncing off objects. I have had to step back to determine the need or intention of the behavior because it can be excessive and disruptive at times. I know his world has been flipped since staying home with me full-time. He has grieved the loss of friendships and caregivers in his own toddler way, causing behavioral changes. When the behavior arises, I also ask myself whether he is tired or is there an emotional need I have not been able to provide him because my time is split.
I have discovered that usually the lower his proprioceptive input is throughout the day, the more I see him seeking that input. The results are rough play, crashing into things, and an increase in defiance and dysregulation. My kid needs activity in which he is pulling, pushing, squeezing, stomping, running, and jumping throughout the day. We cannot be outside all the time because I am attempting to maintain my work schedule, so I have been experimenting with activities that can be done inside that is less likely to result in destruction or injury. I am still trying to find the right balance of alternating quality time with him, providing the sensory outlets he needs, and completing work throughout the day. Like adults, children’s social/emotional/sensory needs can vary day to day. Incorporating sensory activities throughout the day has made him calmer and overall, just a happier kid. He can do some activities independently, allowing me to get work done during that time. I also find that if I can give anywhere from 5-30 minutes of quality time with him periodically throughout the day, I see a decrease in him using negative behaviors to try to engage me. During those quality time moments, I usually incorporate an activity that is sensory related. On the days I am less available due to my schedule, I expect to see an increase in some challenging behaviors. I tend to try to provide more independent sensory input activities on those days.
Kinetic sand has been a miracle for my toddler. It often provides the sensory input he needs in the morning, resulting in a much calmer child throughout the day. He can squeeze, pound, and push it. He enjoys dinosaurs and trucks, so we have been using those in the sand as well. I have offered pipe cleaners and beads for him to put in the sand as well. He will string the beads on the pipe cleaner to make snakes and trees to put in his sand tray. We will label colors, shapes, and letters in the sand while we play If I want to add an educational component. Naturally, the activity also helps with fine motor skills. We have used shovels, spoons, cups, and tweezers to manipulate the sand or pick up objects. This activity can be done independently or with the caregiver. Everyone’s sensory needs are different, so sand may not be every kid’s cup of tea. Here is a link of other fillers that can be used if you don’t have kinetic sand or it’s not suitable for your child https://littlebinsforlittlehands.com/our-favorite-sensory-bin-fillers/