Give Your Adoptive Child a Portable Sensory Bag this Christmas


tangle figet toy_ credit requiredWe all struggle with self-regulation throughout different periods in our lives. Our ability to self-regulate can depend on what we are going through, how much stress we are dealing with, sickness, etc. We each self-regulate differently. For some, self-regulation can be a constant struggle that is difficult to understand.

Self-regulation is the ability to adjust or regulate the level of alertness. Adapting to the environment, and constantly changing needs and demands on the nervous system requires complex processing in the brain, which is often taken for granted. When children have a difficult time with self-regulation, we often see bad behaviors which can be perceived as negative aspect of the child personality. Instead, it is important to realize that the child is trying to deal with their lack of self-regulating abilities the best way they know how. It is very important to identify these signals of self-regulation before jumping to conclusions that it is behaviorally driven. Depending on the state of the brain at the time, the child may need an increased amount of sensory input or a decreased amount of sensory input.

Adopted children may not have had a constant caregiver to teach them how to self-regulate. When integrated into their new home, it becomes their parent’s job to start to show them and teach them self-regulation skills to improve their ability to learn new and positive behaviors that will help them tolerate uncomfortable situations, which will make their life easier in the long run. A great resource is the Trust Based Relational Intervention process. More about this can be found at TBRI.

It is important to teach children self-regulation skills when they are calm, open to listening and through play. Here is an idea for a holiday gift that can help with this aspect of a child’s life:

A Portable Sensory Bag, like a small back pack or tote filled with:

  • Sunglasses, ear plugs, hat to avoid sensory overload
  • Small fidget toys to be manipulated and touched during times of stress
  • Oral sensory toys/items like water bottle, chewy and crunchy snacks, jewelry
  • Play dough or flexible bands
  • Compression vest or body sock to provide deep pressure touch
  • Visual soothing toys that have bubbles or that spin
  • Essential oils can help children relax
  • Fine and visual motor gadgets such as a small Etch a Sketch

Follow our Pinterest board for additional ideas for Sensory Play.

Photo Credit:

Adriana Tebbe is the Latin America Program Coordinator for MLJ Adoptions. With nearly a decade in social work experience, Adriana enjoys watching children from hard places, both domestically and internationally, thrive when they are given the opportunity to develop relationships with adults and families.