It’s Fourth of July. Dogs and Sensitive Kids Beware!
My neighborhood happens to be one of the few in Southern California that allows people to shoot off their own fireworks. With Fourth of July right around the corner, our evenings are now punctuated with unexpected explosions as people try out their fireworks.
We love Fourth of July in our neighborhood. It’s such fun to walk around and see everyone out in their front yards enjoying the festivities and fireworks. But, as many dog owners and parents of sensitive kids know, the noise and suddenness of fireworks can be terrifying.
Why are Some Kids so Sensitive?
Why is it that something that can be so much fun can be so frightening for some people? Believe it or not, the same underlying processing skills that support efficient learning are also the skills that allow us to adapt to change and perceive and understand what’s happening in our environment.
Survival is basic to human nature. When we accurately perceive and understand information that we hear, see, and feel with our bodies, we are able to quickly determine if we are safe, even when the input is sudden and unexpected. We may briefly go into a Fight or Flight state, but quickly adjust as we locate and understand the input.
Kids (or adults) who are not easily and accurately perceiving and understanding the information coming in through their sensory systems may operate in Fight or Flight mode much of the time. The unexpected noise and light of fireworks can escalate their anxiety and send them into a tailspin.
Preparing for Fourth of July
On of the best ways to reduce or prevent overload and meltdowns on Fourth of July is to be prepared.
- Talk about this special, exciting day several days in a row leading up to it
- Draw pictures of fireworks and talk about the bright lights and colors
- Talk about the exciting sound fireworks make and together mimic the sound with claps and loud noises
- Look at videos of fireworks on You-Tube
- Make it seem special and fun, not ominous
Stop the Meltdown Madness
Many children with learning challenges are more sensitive to change, confusion, and overload. By identifying and developing the underlying processing/learning skills that are weak or inefficient, children and adults can become more settled, flexible, and “comfortable in their own skin.” They can become more efficient and successful learners.
For more information:
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(Image sources: http://www.friendshipcircle.org; http://www.wildinsights.com.au/Calm-Scared-Pets)
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