We're Going to Disney!

We're Going to Disney!

Parents often want to give their children the landmark childhood experience of a visit to Disney World or Disneyland.

There is lots of information available about taking children to Disney: specific to infants, toddlers, elementary age, and teens; going with grandparents; going by car, air, or train; visiting in winter or summer; and more. This blog post is a reminder that pleasure can be enhanced and problems hopefully minimized by remembering the building blocks of the developmental and relational model mentioned throughout this year’s blog posts.

In essence, the first six levels of the model are self-regulation, shared attention, back and forth communication, joint problem solving, symbolic thought/pretend play, and logical and emotional thinking. The model is described more fully on my website under the heading DIR/Floortime. There are also many wonderful books on the subject, searchable under DIR, Floortime, Stanley Greenspan, and Serena Wieder.

Briefly, we are all at our best when we are well-regulated, attentive, engaged, and available to problem solve and be creative, symbolic, and logical in our thoughts. These skills build on each other, so if an earlier skill is compromised, then the higher skills will not be robust either.

Picture these skills as rungs on a ladder. If you are on the 4th and 5th steps, trying to creatively  problem solve, and your child is on the bottom rung, trying to regulate, it is heavy work to try to pull them up to your rung. It works much better to go down to their rung and help them climb! This means taking time to help them achieve a sense of self-regulation as your first supportive task. Then each step much be addressed in order, achieving attention, engaging, and then joining together in problem solving.                                                                      

6        Logical and emotional thinking         

5        Symbolic thought and pretending      

4        Shared social problem solving           

3        Back and forth communication                                  

2        Shared attention                                            

1        Self-regulation                                                           

When tensions build, remember that someone who is not well-regulated (frustrated, over excited, tired, hungry) cannot successfully engage with you or participate in problem solving.

If you already have ideas to help your child stay regulated in certain circumstances, have these ideas ready and use them proactively. This might mean having tasty snacks readily available to combat dysregulation from being hungry, sticking to your child’s preferred sleep schedule, wearing layers to allow for regulation of temperature, and using quiet time for regulating arousal level. When you are well prepared and alert to the need to deal with somewhat predictable challenges to regulation, you will have more energy and patience to deal with the less predictable ones.

So to help yourself stay balanced on the higher levels of the ladder, make it a priority to help everyone in your party stay regulated during your vacation. Then, have a wonderful time on your Disney adventure!

PS: You may also want to read the post from June 12th: Planning a Vacation with Children.

Blog Disclaimer:  Please be aware that this blog contains general information. It is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended as treatment or a recommendation or prescription for a particular child. If you have questions about your child, please talk to your pediatrician or seek other professional services.