Tackling textures and smells – Healthier Eating For The Sensitive Child
by Neil Welsh Nutrition.
Feeding kids is difficult at the best of times and can have implications for the physical and mental health of everyone involved. It is stressful for kids who have sensitivities to food and can limit the range of food that are readily available to them from which they can meet their nutritional needs. As for parents and carers, it impacts us too. The greatest impact on adults tends to be psychological in the form stress and anxiety in feeding a sensitive child. But the impact can also be physical. Kids who have difficulties when it comes to feeding can have a huge impact on the adults in their lives. The narrowing down of a child’s food choices will often narrow down an adult’s food options too with many foods not being served as they are on the “do not like” list, and many of those foods being the healthier options which may be less palatable to a child. In addition to food options being narrowed time is a huge issue. Sensitive kids will often require more time to eat, or try to eat. Many parents find themselves cooking twice, one meal for their sensitive child and then another for the rest of the family. This additional time in the kitchen adds up to hundreds of hours that could be put to use in other ways.So what can parents do to help a child who is sensitive to textures and smells and improve everyone’s lives?
- Don’t ignore it. The head in the sand approach is not your best option here but many parents do this hoping that it will be a phase which a child will grow out of. It may well be a phase but kids have lots of phases; tantrums, hitting, getting out of bed in the middle of the night and we would not just let them carry on these phases without some intervention. Food aversion is no different. Even if it were just a phase, it may unnecessarily carry on for years. There are ways to approach the problem which can be stress free for all involved and drastically improve the situation.
- Talk about it. Many parents are concerned that talking about it with their kids may make it worse and reinforce it. It wont. As long as you are compassionate and empathetic then it should be fine. Let your child know that you understand and that you want to try and help. Tell them that you are on the same team and that you understand that things have been hard but you are going to try some new approaches. Now, let’s not be naïve here. There is a good chance that a child may be less than enthusiastic about this and that is fine. But warning them about a change and letting them feel part of the decision can be empowering and help improve the situation. This conversation is important.
- This sounds easy but in reality it is quite difficult. Feeding professionals state that it can take up to 20 exposures for new tastes and textures to be accepted. If you were to serve a child the same problem food once a week that would mean that you would need more than 4 months of serving a food that your child does not like to see a progression from resistance to just licking. It’s a long time but the speed of acceptance does increase over time. Start with tricky foods just on the plate. Encourage a child to taste, they don’t have to eat it. There is a huge difference between eating and tasting to a child. Start with a sniff, go on to a lick, then a chew (followed by a spit) and hope for a swallow.
- Get the environment right. Little details can add up to have big impacts. Getting a child ready to eat in plenty of time makes a big difference. Coming straight from playing to sitting down to eat can quickly result in “I don’t like it”, when what they really mean is “I want to go back and play”. Get kids in the kitchen. Get them helping to cook and lay the table… and clearing up afterwards. If they are old enough to operate an ipad then they are old enough to put plates in a dishwasher! Serve food in portions that are age appropriate, cut up tricky foods into bite size pieces, serve food family style so kids can help themselves and don’t always leave it until dinner to try to expose kids to difficult food (kids will be tired at the end of the day and it can make the job more difficult).
- Keep calm and carry on. Know that this is a slow process and accept this. Do not stress if you don’t see results this week, or next week but keep going. Keep exposing and keep talking.
Over time the situation should begin to improve. If there is no improvement then professional assessment may be required but at least you will know that you have taken steps to address the issue before moving on to this step.
For more information about getting kids to eat the healthy food that you want to eat go to www.neilwelshnutrition.com
NOISE Sensitivity – Why Noise Can Be A Child’s Biggest Stressor
Why Noise Sensitivity Could Be One Of Your Child’s Biggest Cause Of Stress, Anxiety And Depression
So What Is Noise Sensitivity?
Noise sensitivity is reduced tolerance to sound. It is exacberated by fatigue, infection, medications, medical conditions, stress and other stimuli. It causes different changes to brain function . In-fact it is shown that some noise sensitivity shows an increase in grey matter volume
There are different kinds of noise sensitivity.
Hyperascius is an intolerance or even pain to different types of sound, it often occurs with tinnitus. It is extremely common in children, though many children out grow it.
Hypersensitive hearing of specific frequencies is seen in many children with autism. Some frequencies such as those above 70 decibels can be unbearable.
Misophonia is a strong reaction to specific sounds, the individual is triggered by specific sounds. There is often a strong emotional correlation to the specific sounds.Misophonia is viewed as a neurological condition it can be a symptom seen in adhd, aspergers, autism
Phonophobia (also called ligyrophobia or sonophobia) is viewed as a sub-category of misophonia. It is an emotional or anxiety disorder which is triggered by a fear of particularly loud sounds. And is often triggered by the discomfort and environmental conditioning of living with hyperacusius
Recruitment is linked to sensorineural hearing loss, the individual often has extreme hearing loss. But when someone for example shouts they suddenly hear and it can be very uncomfortable.
Noise sensitivity is often a feature of sensory processing disorders
Confusion around noise sensitivity issues
Many assume noise sensitivity is a psychological condition but it is main causes are a neurological reaction.
Some children do get less sound sensitive, some adults or those with specific medical conditions like untreated chronic lymes can develop increased sound sensitivity.
Some children with autism are oversensitive others are undersensitive.
Causes of noise sensitivity
According to the Brain Injury Society those with noise sensitivity “may have a history of Lyme’s disease, Meniere’s disease, TMJ, serious head injury, frequent migraines, Bell’s Palsy, facial nerve dysfunction, excessive ear irrigation or surgery. Hyperacusis can later develop as a result of damage sustained to the hearing apparatus, or inner ear, or the condition may be acquired as a result of damage to the brain or the neurological system during a head trauma event.”
I have lived with noise sensitivity for at least 28 years. But over the last few years the hyperacusis became very extreme and was accompanied by serious light and sound vibration. It got worse after surviving sepsis and approx 30 years diagnosis of m.e. But I have to say according to a test in germany it may be chronic lymes ( I had strange bites at 14 years old) and I was mercury poisoned.
As somone who has taught stress management to parents and kids for 18 years. I have worked with many children who have hyper sound sensitivity issues. But until recently And I had no ideal how disabling, painful, uncomfortable and exhausting hyperascisus could be.
Many people say it can be torterous and I understand why they decribe it this way. I had to move from my previous home because of how the noise started to affect me. It was changed into a main through road for local traffic. And most people could never imagine how dramatically this impacted my daily life and health. On many occasions I nearly passed out, lost my balance and had violent non-epileptic type seizures all times triggered by noise. Now yes mine would appear to be caused by long-term bacterial and viral infection.
But I would urge you to try and comprehend how uncomfortable or painful noise may be for your child. Particularly if you have a very young child or a child who struggles to communicate what they are experiencing.
I am a stress management expert, with highly extensive and advanced techniques and tools to help me remain calm and relaxed in any situation. And although thank goodness I am lucky to have these tools this does not take away how much this disorder can impact your child’s mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
So How Can You Support your Sound Sensitive Child?
1.Understand your child’s type of sound sensitivity, their triggers and symptoms.
2. Educate your child’s school and teachers on your child’s specific noise sensitivity challenges, the level of sensitivity and key triggers.
3. Prior warning of alarming and noisey sounds can prepare your child’s central nervous system. So work together with teachers, family and friends to work out cues that prepare your child for noise isssues like alarms.
4. Plan and prepare ahead- when you can choose specific times of day, places and areas of a room where your child will be less exposed to too much or particular noises. I know of a situation where a child’s mental wellbeing became seriously distressed and depressed due to the noise of the internet router next to her in her classroom.
5. Minimise the impact when you can: although it may not be a good ideal to completely eliminate your child from all noises. Noises that are extremely uncomfortable, painful or disabling can be reduced by ear muffs, ear plugs and sound cancellation ear phones.
6. Teach your child how to set healthy boundaries– an important part of growing a strong resilient child is teaching them healthy boundaries. A noise sensitive child has usually a very sensitive central nervous system. Noise is one of modern day living’s biggest stressor. So to keep your child physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. It is vital your child can learn how to say NO to noises, games and situations that are di-stressing.
7. White Noise – Some children who are noise sensitive find white noise or fans can soften out the sharp shock of other loud noises.
8. Take Breaks & Rest – regular rest breaks from noisey environments, too many people, parties or events helps keep a child’s nervous system in check.
9. Calm And Patience: It is important that the child and parent learn hows to be calm and patient around sound sensitivity issues. Meditation is an extremely powerful tool that can help the individual cope more resiliently with the challenges. Anything that will calm the central nervous system and help reduce the stress response will help the sound sensitive child.
10. Holistic aids; Deficiencies are sometimes viewed as an issue in sound sensitivity. Many people reduce their sensitivity with supplements of magnesium. Magnesium helps inhibit glutamate which can be a major cause of tinnitus. Magnesium also protects the ears from damage to noise sensitivity. Artificial sweeteners such as aspartame often in many children’s foods, sweets, yoghurts and drinks are reputed to be neurotoxic. So elimination may be helpful.
Wandering Wednesday Link up party
How To Empower Your Child With Life Long Skills
There are many ways to help empower your child. We are so often told about all the things we shouldn’t do but what about the things we should do.
We all know how much a lack of self-esteem and self-confidence can seriously impact the way we approach and live our life. So how do we give our child who may be sensitive, sensory challenged, shy, disabled or ill their power? Here is a five simple but powerful ways you can begin to empower your child today!
5 Simple, Powerful Ways That Can Empower Your Child For Life
They Are Enough: We live in a society and culture that in many ways has everyone believing they are lacking, they need to have or be more to be loved, accepted, valued, respected, successful. When this is so not true. This is such a huge distortion. We can help a child open up and live their greatest potential. But helping them recognise they are enough right now, at this moment is the most powerful thing you can.
Celebrate Your Child’s Uniqueness: Helping your child celebrate those quirky, unique and challenging traits they may have is about helping them recognise they are so much more than enough. And that they are here with their own unique traits, for a particular purpose. There are somethings a child grows out of but it is so important to love and accept them just as they are.
Open Up Your Child’s Potential: Help your child see out of the box, look past limitations even your own. Open them up to the rich tapestry of life, other ideas, other skills, let them try things. Often parents unawaringly or well meaningly limit their child’s dreams, they can squash down their ” Joie de vivre” Joy of Living. Or they do the opposite and fill in all sorts of activities into their child’s schedule without enough downtime. Sadly over 18 years as a Stress Therapist I have seen many children with depression and anxiety. And some children who developed suicidal tendencies exacberated by this sort of pressure from parents.
Empower Yourself: When you empower yourself, you empower your child, children are energetic sponges, so they can easily take on other’s anxiety, stress and depression. Especially children who are extremely sensitive who find it difficult to identify what is their energy and emotions and others.
Teach Your Child How To Meditate: When you teach your child the right type of meditation, your child can access calm and peace whenever they want. Now I am not talking about guided meditations, they can help your child to relax and help build self-worth, confidence … I am talking about meditation skills that with daily practise will eventually let them access instant stillness. So whatever life challenges or stress come along, your child will have the tools to deal with them more effectively. The right meditation and mindful skills can also help your child become more accepting, compassionate about themself and those around them. Their less likley to have chronic anxiety, depression or chronic stress because they are not as lost in negative thinking.
Would your child love to learn how to meditate?