7 Sensory Games Dads Can Play With Their Children
7 Sensory Games Dads Can Play With Their Children
Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD) my daughter, Jaimie, and my son, Xander both live with this disorder. They each have specific needs in terms of the sort of sensory input their bodies crave but both of them need a tremendous amount of vestibular and proprioceptive input. I’m not strong enough to play the rough-and-tumble games to give them the high vestibular and proprioception input they each need, so we invented a few games they can play with their siblings and their daddy, Steve. The key is to give your child the sensory input he needs in the most comfortable environment possible. Here are a few of our games:
Daddy Crusher: In this game, Dad takes on a bit of a WWF persona (Steve chose some guy called The Claw). Put your best wrestler voice on, making sure that your tone is okay with your child. The loudness was too much for Jaimie at first, and still is on some of her ‘sensitive ear’ days. You could say something like, “Nobody can beat the Daddy Crusher. Grrr!” then run over to your child and ‘wrestle’ with her. Get her to push, pull, drag and hang on you. You could even (gently) squash her–WWF ‘pin-down’ style. The only other warning I have about this game, aside from the loudness aspect, is if you notice your child is getting too ‘up’, it’s time to stop and play something more calming.
Rice Krispie Treats recipe and written instructions.
Chair Tug-of-War: Get yourself a heavy rope or skipping rope. Position two chairs facing each other then have each of you take an end of the rope. The goal is to try pulling the other person off of his chair. A warning for this game is to be sure your child has a good grip on the rope. If he has a weaker handgrip, have him wrap the end around his hand. Be sure to do a few practice tugs so he’ll understand to grip harder when the rope is being tugged.
Giddy-up Daddy: If you have a strong back, dad, this is a fun game. Get down on your hands and knees and pretend to be a horse. Then take your ‘sensational’ kid for a ride around the house. Once he feels safe, you can always do a more ‘Bucking Buckeroo’ type of game. Again, be sure that your child has a strong enough grip to hold on, especially with bucking. If need be, put a belt or rope around your torso for him to hold onto and always do a few practice runs.
Scaling the Daddy Tower: This is Xander’s favorite game. You and your child stand facing each other, then have your child place her hands in yours–your palms facing down, hers up. Then have her walk up your front, flipping her over when she gets to the top. ALWAYS be careful that the arms don’t get twisted.
Sports My Way: Take out the basketball, kick the soccer ball, or play catch. Any of these are great for interaction, eye-hand coordination, muscle strengthening and so much more. They can be played inside or out (which is why we call it “Sports My Way.”)
Pool Noodle Soccer or Baseball: Pool noodles are super cheap and great fun. They are long, floppy and made of foam so they are fun to try maneuvering with and safe if you’re accidentally hit. Get a lighter, soft ball (like a beach ball, balloon or Nerf ball) then create a goal and try getting the ball into it (for soccer) or hitting it to run a base (for baseball).
Super-Duper-Daddy-Spin: Hold your child in an airplane position (your forearm should be under his torso, legs hanging over and other arm holding securely). Then start the engines of the plane (Brrrrrrrrrummmm), take off (whoosh) then SPIN! Jaimie and Xander both love this game. Just be careful that your child is a ‘seeker’ for such activities or she may be scared or, even worse, get sick!
These are just a few of the ‘sensational’ dad games from our vault. If your child is highly tactile you can adjust some of these games to respect a ‘no touch’ rule. For example, Jaimie likes putting her blanket or pillow on top of dad in the horse game before climbing on.
Just remember that many of these kids crave the muscle input so games where you’re jumping, squeezing, rolling, etc. are great. And don’t forget to have the calm down activities right after. Whether with you or with mum, ‘sensational’ kids need calm down time (eg: Hot Dog Game or Pizza Game. See description below.).
Good luck and have fun, Dads.
Tips for Father’s Day
- Father’s Perspective: Raising a Child with Special Needs
- Seven Ways to Celebrate Being a Special Needs Parent
- From One Father to Another, Happy Father’s Day
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As seen in our May/June 2011 issue