Our first visit to Navy Pier occurred when Trevor was quite young and still using a stroller. It was a warm summer evening and we spent our time leisurely making our way through the crowds and checking out all the cool attractions. Because Kelly is a big fan of fireworks, we stayed a bit late to watch the nightly show. From the first explosion we immediately noticed Trevor wincing. The booming sounds overhead were too much for his ears. It was perhaps the first time we realized that he was hypersensitive to sound, particularly loud, startling sounds.
Developmentally, all of us are born with physical (or biological) sensitivities that impact how we interpret and engage in the world. As parents, it’s so important that we attune ourselves to the individual sensitivities in our children (both over and under-reactive), and then adapt our parenting in ways that support their developmental growth. Kids can be sensitive to light, touch, taste, smell, and of course sound, in all combinations. By decoding individual profiles, we can play an important role in helping our children learn how to cope, adapt, and very often overcome sensitivities through developmentally-based interventions.
Unfortunately, all too often when kids act out in different ways, the parental response is to push kids into behaving and doing what we want. Many times this strong-arm approach leads to power struggles where everyone loses. The developmental approach suggests that kids may be acting out for legitimate reasons. Instead of taking a punitive approach, we facilitate growth in our kids when we take the time to dig deeper and understand the meaning behind what they are doing.