5 Strategies to try when your child has sound sensitivities

The first week of July in America is filled with celebrations around our Independence Day.  Family and friends gather for meals, parties, and usually, some sort of fireworks show in the sky.  Whether they’re backyard bottle rockets or a spectacular sky-filling professional show with grand musical accompaniment in a public setting, fireworks are a mainstay of this American holiday.

Even if you’re not in America, celebrations, parties, and get-togethers are often the hallmark of this time of year.  If you are in a part of the world where it is summer, you’re likely spending time with groups of family and/or friends, and possibly traveling as well.

Fireworks displays, large gatherings, and even travel have a few things in common — one of the most potentially scary ones for your children can be the loud sounds associated with all of these activities.  Whether it be the pops in the sky, the large group of revelers, or even the loud engines of a plane, your child may not find these summer sounds to be soothing, and even worse - he may be utterly terrified, confused and/or frustrated by them.

While we can make things quiet and predictable for our kids at home, we all quickly discover that there is no volume button for the world outside.  If your child hates loud noises, our Specialists have put together a list of ideas for you to help:

1. Try Mindfulness Apps

Help your child practice strategies and understand how to independently move into a peaceful place.  One great way to do this is by practicing mindfulness.  Here are great apps to help you with this.

One mindfulness app that helps kids really relax and take things slowly, while also identifying their feelings is the : Breathing Bubbles App.

Another Mindfulness app is: Mindfulness for Children

You can also try Headspace and SmileMind

If you have younger kiddos, try: 

Breathe, Think, Do with Sesame 

Daniel Tiger’s Grr-ific Feelings

2. Headphones / White Noise

Bring along headphones, ear plugs, ear muffs, or ear protectors.  Even muffling the sound, and giving your child control over when she wants to put them on and take them off depending on how bothersome the sound of the group or firework show is, will help your child immensely.

3. Prepare in Advance

Before arriving at a party, the nightly show, or any family gathering, be sure to talk to your child and let them know there will be a group of people, or loud fireworks.  Try to remain neutral (try not to let your anxiety about your child’s reaction show) and let them know what’s happening, and talk with them about what they can do if they’re feeling nervous or overwhelmed.  If they have been to the person’s house or the park before, remind them of some things they did or places they stayed during previous visits.  If they’re older, you can brainstorm with them some things to do - give your child an opportunity to think of things that might help. 

4. Take Breaks

Let your child know that he can take a break from the group anytime.  Talk about a safe space to do that either on the way to the location, or once you arrive and take a look around.  You could even tell your child to come to you, say a specific phrase so you know what is going on, and then go to their safe space.  If they want you or another caregiver to go with them, make a plan so they feel confident they will be supported.

5. Be Patient

The more you practice these situations, the better equipped your child will be at handling the stress and overwhelm in future years.  Keep trying to be consistent and supportive, and it will get better!

Katie HolloranComment