It’s the time of the year when our team is asked about tips for making the 4th of July holiday more inclusive and fun for the whole family. While 4th of July festivities can be exciting for some, the large crowds, bright lights and loud fireworks can be overwhelming for some kids.
We’ve gathered up a few helpful tips from our therapists to ensure that your child is able to successfully engage in 4th of July activities.
- Prepare your child for the day’s events. Some children struggle with unexpected or unanticipated events. Discuss your plans for the day ahead of time. If possible, you may want to provide exposure to potential scenarios prior to the event. This can help ease anxiety about new or overwhelming environments. Some ideas might include, reading stories about the 4th of July, watching a video about fireworks, talking about parties your child has attended in the past, etc. In some cases, it can be helpful to create a visual picture schedule of events so that your child is able to anticipate order of events.
- Encourage your child to communicate their needs. Make a plan to check in regularly so that you can gauge your child’s tolerance for certain activities. If your child is unable to communicate their needs verbally, use visual picture cards.
- Be prepared to minimize sensory stimuli as needed. If you intend on going to a public event, it may be helpful to bring tools that aid your child in coping with sensory stimuli within the environment to prevent overstimulation. Items such as noise cancelling head phones or ear plugs, sensory fidgets (i.e., spinners, stress ball), or sunglasses for bright lights, are all great items to have on hand. It’s also helpful to create a safe space outside of a larger crowd with a familiar chair, blanket, or umbrella for your immediate family to gather.
- Have a backup plan. You may have to change up or modify plans to better accommodate your child and that is totally okay! It may be too overwhelming to attend firework shows, parades, or neighborhood parties. There are still many creative ways to make the 4th of July an enjoyable experience for your child while creating new traditions. Some ideas may include, hosting a small gathering with few familiar guests, have a camp out in your backyard, find some fun recipes and make 4th of July themed foods, or have a Fourth of July themed scavenger hunt or obstacle course.