Getting it ‘Just Right’ – The Goldilocks Dilemma

Charlotte JenkinsBeacon Community Services, Beacon Education Services, Beacon Family Services, Beacon Training Services, Family Relationships, News

It only takes a little trip down memory lane and through the pages of fairytales to see that getting something ‘just right‘ is a re-occuring theme.

Take, for instance, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. In the fairytale version of the story, Goldilocks enters a seemingly abandoned cottage. In it she finds three chairs, three bowls of porridge and three beds. She tries all of the chairs; one is too hard, one is too soft and one is just right. Next, she tries all the bowls of porridge and again one of them is just right. Likewise, when Goldilocks tries the beds, there is one which is just right.

Getting things ‘just right’ is important, just think about how you prefer your coffee or your tea. As children and adults, we need to understand the way our bodies and brains respond to the sensations, smells, taste, sounds, places and people in our lives.  Learning about what our bodies need in terms of movement and sensation can help our ability to manage the often competing physical and emotional demands of daily life.

Sensory sensitivities can be overwhelming, feeling ‘just right’ allows children to feel safe and connected. When parents and other trusted adults take the time to learn about what makes children feel ‘just right’ and support their sensory needs, it helps them feel safe and understood.

The Scared Gang by Éadaoin Bhreathnach

As a parent, you may be experiencing a range of behaviour which can be difficult to know how to respond to without a deeper understanding of their sensory needs or preferences. Common sensory sensitivities include finding the sensation of seams and tags against their skin distressing, or finding it challenging to sit still in school. Parenting a child with sensory sensitivities can seem difficult and overwhelming and working out what to do can feel impossible.

As a Theraplay®​ practitioner, and as a parent myself, when I delivered sensory activities I could see the calming and soothing benefits with the families I work with. As a result, I decided to train further in the Just Right State Programme. In the books written and devised by Occupational Therapist, Eadoin Bhreathnach, The Scared Gang stories help children and their parents learn about the sensory activities that, like Goldilocks, make them feel ‘just right’.

Since delivering The Just Right State Programme I have seen sensory approaches significantly help parents and children.  For example, the introduction of a foot massage just before putting socks on really helped a child manage the uncomfortable feeling of the seams within the socks. It helped the child to know that their parent was able to help them to make their clothes feel ‘just right’.

Finding ways to agree on what works for you and your child/ren is unique to you as a family. The Just Right State Programme allows you the time and space to work this out with the support of experienced practitioners.

It’s so crucial for children to grow up listening to what their bodies and brains need. This has a positive impact on their long term mental health and sense of being understood in relationship with others. The Just Right State Programme is an opportunity to learn ways of integrating sensory experiences into family life for the benefit of all in the family.

Catherine Eveness, is a certified Theraplay®​ Practitioner and Founder of Theraplay®​ South West. She works in partnership with Beacon Family Services to deliver the Just Right State Programme. 

You can find out more about the Just Right State programme here. To find out more about Catherine’s sensory processing webinars, contact her via email at catherine@beaconservices.org.uk.