The Fourth of July is a fun holiday. It’s a time when friends, family and neighbors celebrate together regardless of religious or political beliefs and often involves wonderful parades, picnics, barbecues and fireworks displays. Help your child enjoy it even more by catering to his or her dominant sense and create long-lasting family memories.
The extra walking needed to get a good spot to watch the Fourth of July parade or fireworks won’t bother your tactile child. They will be up bright and early, in anticipation of the day’s events. In their usual tactile way, these children will tend to go overboard with excitement, so start the day with a healthy breakfast and limit their intake of sugar and junk foods so they will be able to last until the nighttime fireworks. Being helpful by nature, they tend to get underfoot and into awkward situations if not managed properly; with fireworks and barbecues around, it’s best to keep them busy doing other things. Give them easy jobs to do such as fetching things, helping pack up plates and mugs for the picnic, and carrying blankets and such to the car. This not only will help them to feel involved, but it will also keep them busy doing a safe job rather than running around.
The crowds at the parade may be frustrating for your visual child, as being small makes it hard for them to see anything but a sea of legs. Try to find a spot that allows them a clear view of the parade, even if it is a little further away. Take with you a variety of things for them to do, such as waving pom poms, blowing on pinwheels and waving flags, to keep them entertained for the times it is not possible for them to see the parade clearly. There will be no surprise that the visual child will love all the colors in the sky from the fireworks display. Expect a couple of weeks of drawing brilliant displays of fireworks, and chatter about how pretty they were and asking when you can go again. Bring some crayons and patriotic printouts for them to color when things get overwhelming or boring, and don’t forget to dress in the good old red, white and blue.
Auditory children will love the various games and activities that occur on the Fourth of July, and happily will help prepare as many items to wave as possible. Their ability to clap in time, blow on noisemakers and wave flags will impress. Print out the words to some of the popular marching band songs so you and your auditory child can sing along. In the evening, take along some earplugs or headphones to help protect your child’s ears as the noise from the fireworks can be upsetting to your auditory child. Alternatively, letting your auditory child listen to some of their favorite music can make the fireworks display even more vibrant. Classical music from composers like Beethoven and Paganini are really fun to listen to when watching the light display.
Allowing your taste and smell child to bring along their favorite security item like a doll, bear or blanket can help enormously when dealing with the crowds surrounding Fourth of July activities. They will love the food aspect of the day so have some fun making treats that have a patriotic theme such as red and blue popsicles, rectangular cakes decorated with blueberries and strawberries, cupcakes with the American flag, or sandwiches cut into stars. The taste and smell child will love the inclusion of family and friends and will have fun passing out snacks and items to make everyone comfortable. Be aware that being outside with a bunch of strangers in the dark can cause anxiety — relieve this fear of the dark by giving them a special flashlight they can turn on if need be and of course a good cuddle from Mom and Dad never hurts.
Happy Fourth of July!
Priscilla Dunstan is a behavioral researcher, creator of the Dunstan Baby Language and author of “Child Sense” and “Calm the Crying.” She works in New York as a behavioral consultant. Learn more about Dunstan at www.calmthecrying.com.