Sensory tools for emotions

Sensory glitter bottle

Sensory tools for emotions

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you are familiar with my approach to ADHD for “Little Bit”. She is my youngest 5 daughter, who at the moment is 5 years old.  Although she is not officially diagnosed with ADHD, there is strong genetic tendency on my husband’s side, plus many little behavioral traits.  I am open to medication if needed at some point, but for the moment, I am pursuing many natural remedies. This includes lots of great sensory tools, behavioral techniques, and essential oils.  I am passionate about making sure she has a solid toolbox of strategies to help her cope and function to her potential well into adulthood.  Today, my focus is on some of the sensory tools we have used for emotions.

Calm down bottles in place of time out

When Little Bit was younger, I kept a variety of sensory bottles everywhere that I made using these VOSS water bottles""” rel=”nofollow”>.  I love the big pack, because of course I had to make 2 of every style. Older sister, Biggs, thought they were cool too, plus kids love being able to make choices! 

Sensory bottle with glitter fully mixed

Our most commonly used sensory bottle was a simple mixture of about 3/4 of the bottle filled with warm water, an entire bottle of glitter glue , and extra fine glitter. I added a little more clear glue to adjust the viscosity to my liking.  The goal was for the glitter to take about 5 minutes to mostly settle to the bottom.

Bottle once glitter is settled

Once everything was mixed, I used super glue to secure the lids to prevent a giant mess!!!  When Little Bit would get wound up and was having a hard time calming down, I would ask if she wanted her “calm down bottle”.  She even started to ask for it on her own.  I ended up making several colors so we could have them handy in the car too for on the go.

The glitter/glue combination created a mesmerizing swirl of color to watch settle. It served as a point of positive focus rather than being “in trouble” in a time out situation. Once she was calm, it was much easier to have age appropriate conversations about why things had escalated to the point that they did. We started instilling thoughts about how she could use her words, or choose different actions to avoid getting to the out of control state that she had been in. 

Why the meltdown and what to do about it

Emotions are hard!  And even as a parent, I loved having something I could physically do to redirect the situation.  It gave me something to do and offer. When Little Bit is to the point of irrational screaming, she has lost the control to regulate her emotions. Sometimes there is a root cause of being hungry or tired. In addition to avoiding these triggers, it’s my job to teach her the tools, and model self regulation. Check out some self care here to help.

Common culprits for these crazy meltdowns would be typical ADHD difficulties with executive function. It can be difficult to stop an enjoyable activity to change tasks to what she was being asked to do. Then when the adult (me) would get tired of asking, I would go ahead and complete the task. As soon as she realized she missed out, she would be inconsolable that she did not get to “help”.   Anyone else?

In addition to the calm down bottles, check out my post on essential oils here. This visual timer can be a good tool to set up when a known difficult transition is approaching. Follow me on Facebook or Pinterest to see future posts about other techniques and tools we utilize.

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The content in this post is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  It is merely opinion based on personal research and experience.

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