The Power of Naming It
Geared up and ready to swim in her bright pink Costco cute swimming skirt and rash guard Isis and I walked into the woman’s locker room toward the pool. Halfway in Isis froze – Deer in Headlights terrified. I’m puzzled for a split second until I register that there is a mother blow drying her daughter’s hair in a tiled, echoing locker room. I kneel down and look Isis in the eye.
“Oh, Is that too loud for you?” I ask Isis. She nods her head with her hands pressed hard over her ears. The sweet mother watching this happen, and seeing Isis frozen with her hands over her ears, so kindly immediately turns off the blow dryer and smiles at me.
“It’s okay honey, she turned it off, so we can walk by. Thank you so much!” I pick Isis up, and we walk through safely – and spend the next hour having a blast in the pool. Isis singing to herself “Swimmy swim swim swim. Swimmy, swim swim. Swimmy swim.”
Once your child has calmed enough to be able to hear you speak – help them give their experience a name. A sensory child views much of the world as unpredictable, overwhelming, and possibly painful or assaulting. Control is so important for a child that feels constantly assaulted by their environment, and giving something a name, a context, acknowledging it as real, gives your child power.
Some Examples of supportive language to give your child power:
It looks like you were feeling overwhelmed. There were too many moving people in that room. Would you like to ride on my shoulders? Or go somewhere else?
Oh, I see you were feeling scared. That noise was too loud for you. You can cover your ears. We can go get your ear protection. Do you want to ask them to turn it down, go outside or go somewhere else?
You didn’t like the water that hot or cold. Would you like to pick the temperature? Here is the cold, and here is the hot. Is that better?