As part of the series Decoding Everyday Kid Behaviours, and to celebrate Sensory Processing Awareness month, I am sharing today our “messy” story and give a few tips for those of you whom can relate to having a messy child.
I have a messy kid, and I am not a lover of mess myself! As you can imagine, this can result in some problems! Before I had my daughter our house was organized, everything had a place, I never felt embarressed about a messy house when visitors showed up unannounced and the list goes on! Sounds familiar? I had to make peace with the fact that my house is not just my own anymore, and just to let go…
Let me explain: my daughter(4 years), is a sensory seeker, with most of her senses, but specifically the tactile sense. Craving tactile input is an everyday story. (Read about Our Sensory Processing Disorder Story here). She will touch everything, even objects you repeatedly tell her not to touch. She will “mess” with items such as cream(found her smearing bum cream all over herself and the our bedding more than once), paint the toilet blue with her hands, throwing out the glitter at school, just to feel the texture: exploring with her hands.
This behaviour is NOT naughty(the first time, before I explained why it is not allowed, especially when messing with things that does not belong to you), I do not punish her for being curious, BUT, if after I explained the reason for it not being allowed, she still does the exact same thing, there will be consequences.
Children learn best when experiencing with their senses, all 7 senses:
1. Tactile or Somatosensory System– sense of touch
2. Visual System— sense of sight
3. Auditory System—sense of hearing
4. Gustatory System—sense of taste
5. Olfactory System—sense of smell
6. Vestibular System– sense of balance
7. Proprioception System– sense of body position
To develop the somatosensory sense, children need to explore textures, they need to use their hands, and whole bodies, to learn, and this sometimes do end up in a “mess”. BUT the educational value of the “mess” is priceless. We, as the adults, just need to allow them to explore, and why not join in? You never know how great of a stress reliever it can be…
A few tips from moms in regards to tactile seeking children(and good for all kids):
– Provide opportuniy for exploration, if there is opportunity to explore throughout their day, they will not go look for it in unwanted ways. You can find loads of ideas on my Sensory Pinterest Board.
– Do it on your terms, for instance: have a dedicated area where they can explore, say outside, or in the bath tub. This will help to contain the mess, and make clean up easier.
– Have a box with sensory toys handy that is not messy, for instance squishy balloons, gel baggies or sensory bottles. Even a sheet of bubble wrap can work. If you don’t have time for tidying up and need a quick sensory fix, these will be a life saver!
– “I buy multi packs of bleach wipes, use towels and washable shower curtains to contain the mess.”~ Naomi
Most kids are messy to a certain extend, if not with materials, then with leaving toys everywhere. My child is just a tad more “messy” in that sense. For her, it makes sense to pack all of the toys out on the floor(usually packing them in heaps for all the “kids” in her class, she loves to play school at the moment), or packing all of her clothes in her cupboard into a bag to go on a pretend holiday, but the problem comes in when she has to tidy up! Great motivation is needed for her to cooperate in packing away, and I guess this is just everyday kid behaviour.
A few tips to contain toy “messes”:
– One Room Rule: you mess up/play in one room at a time, clean it up before moving the mess/play somewhere else.
– “Store ALL toys in the garage in bins. Collect and sanitize all toys in the house once a week, put them in a bin, and bring in a fresh bin. Our special kiddos really benefit from having their toys curated. Toys get played with so much more, broken less, and they feel less overwhelmed with the choices.”~ Naomi
– “I switch the bins of toys every couple of weeks… Less toys and every couple of weeks its like a whole bunch of new toys that were forgotten about….”~ Ginette
– Declutter: toys not played with for a long time can be given away, less to just leave lying around!
I hope these tips are useful to you!
Do you have a child with Sensory Processing issues? How do you help your child to cope?
Do pop over to Project Sensory to order a sensory toolkit that will come in handy for your sensory kiddo to take anywhere!
I never thought of my daughter as a “sensory-seeker” before reading this series – I just thought she liked being messy! lol! But I understand her so much more now. Doing messy play in the bathtub is a great suggestions – it keeps everything contained and then you can just rinse it away!
Nadia van Zyl says
Yes exactly Emma! The easier clean-up, the better!
I am curious what you mean by “there will be consequences” what are your consequences for children?
Nadia van Zyl says
The way you discipline will differ, we take away privileges