#276 - "Why Does My 2 Y.O. Say Everything is Hot? Is This a Sensory Thing?"

by Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC October 04, 2023

#276 -

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"Why Does My 2 Y.O. Say Everything is Hot? Is This a Sensory Thing?"

Today’s episode answers a listener's question - “Why does my 2-year-old say everything is hot? Is this a sensory thing or a weird phase?”

We dive into the different phases toddlers can go through, gestalt language processing, fun activities that identify temperatures, and strategies for interoception.

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Links

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Ep. 266 Gestalt Language Processiing

Ep. 216 Activities to Support Interoceptive Processing

Wilbarger Therapy Brush (Amazon)

The Listening Program    

 

Why Does My 2-Y-O Say Everything Is Hot? Is This A Sensory Thing?

A mother of a two-year-old is concerned about her child's tendency to react to all objects as if they are hot. She wonders if this behavior is related to sensory issues or just a temporary phase.

It may be a blend of both. Two-year-olds are notorious for going through numerous idiosyncratic phases between the ages of one and four or five. It is genuinely captivating how these young ones exhibit such unpredictable behaviors during this stage of their development.

 

Potential Factors

It is crucial to remember that children constantly discover and explore their bodies during the toddler stage. They are acquiring novel means of communication, learning new words, and constructing new sentences. 

At the same time, children are constantly exploring new ways to interact with their environment and seek the attention of their caregivers. This phase often involves situations where the child may have touched something hot and is now associating everything with heat, even when it is not hot.

However, this child may function as a gestalt language processor, using this phrase to convey a specific message. If this is the case, your approach may need adjustment, considering it as a potential sensitivity to temperature or a result of trauma, which can vary in severity.

 

Sensory-Focused Activities

Experience water at different temperatures.

Immerse ice cubes in warm water and witness captivating transformations. Explore the interplay between hot and cold, creating delightful opportunities for children to play with ice cubes and pour them back and forth between cups.

Interoceptive processing

The interoceptive system, often referred to as our "eighth hidden sense," offers invaluable insights into the condition of our bodies. It serves as an alert system, notifying us of sensations such as cold or heat, pain or discomfort, the urge to use the restroom, and feelings of hunger and thirst.

Interoceptive processing enables us to gain insight into our internal state and develop emotional awareness and intelligence. Practicing mindfulness and paying attention to the temperature of objects around the house can help improve this ability. 

For instance, when we ignite the stove, we experience its intense heat, while opening the refrigerator brings a refreshing and cool sensation, particularly in the summer. These simple exercises enhance our comprehension of how our body responds to different temperatures. 

Moreover, we can enhance our connection with ourselves by actively acknowledging and focusing on our internal experiences. It is essential to note the intricate link between the vestibular and interoceptive systems, highlighting the mind-body connection's significance. 

Discussing the weather and its current conditions outside

A delightful little board adorned with pictures depicting the weather, days of the week, clothing, temperature, and weather conditions. Observing this visual representation proves immensely beneficial. 

Observing how the external weather connects with the internal sensations it evokes within our bodies is truly captivating. By engaging in activities that involve significant physical exertion, we fulfill our sensory needs and facilitate a better understanding of a toddler's body and its interaction with the surrounding environment.

Incorporating heavy work activities can effectively regulate the nervous system, benefiting children who experience anxiety related to perceived heat and potential harm. Integrating more heavy work activities helps them feel calm throughout the day. 

Dressing appropriately for the weather

Some children have a higher tendency to feel hot, while others tend to feel colder. It is important to help them recognize these sensations and respond accordingly. 

For instance, they can remove their sweatshirt or wear a cooler shirt if they feel hot. Conversely, they can wear a sweatshirt or socks if they feel cold. 

To make this learning experience interactive, you can involve stuffed animals and dolls. Encourage the child to dress their doll for different weather conditions, such as putting on a coat and boots for snowy weather. 

By connecting clothing choices to weather conditions and body sensations, we can help children develop their interoceptive systems. Ultimately, all these aspects are intricately interconnected.

Incorporate dry brushing

The Wilbarger Brushing Protocol can be a valuable tool for children who are highly sensitive or over-responsive to sensory input by applying gentle pressure while brushing up and down the arms, back, and legs using a dry brush. It's crucial to avoid tickling and overstimulation, so use enough pressure. 

Dry brushing serves the purpose of offering a soothing tactile sensation that many children find delightful. To enhance their engagement, you can even allow your child to hold the brush and gently stroke themselves wherever they find it most pleasing.

 

Addressing Hypersensitivity in Occupational Therapy

To meet the needs of a hypersensitive child, we will incorporate activities like brushing and heavy work. Furthermore, we may explore advanced brain technology programs, such as the listening program, to enhance sensory processing.

In addition, special attention is needed when dealing with hypersensitivity in relation to weather conditions. For example, if a child is particularly sensitive to heat, strategies such as seeking out cool areas or utilizing cooling products can be employed to ensure their comfort.

Alternatively, if children are sensitive to cold temperatures, we can address their needs by providing suitable clothing and implementing heating measures during colder months. By understanding and accommodating their hypersensitivity, we can assist children in effectively managing their comfort in different weather conditions.

In conclusion, a child's perception of temperature is influenced by various factors such as fear, gestalt language processor, interoception, and learning words for different sensations. By incorporating activities like weather discussions, heavy work tasks, dressing appropriately for the weather, and dry brushing, we can help children develop their interoceptive system and better understand their body's response.

 

 

 

 

BORING, BUT NECESSARY LEGAL DISCLAIMERS

While we make every effort to share correct information, we are still learning. We will double check all of our facts but realize that medicine is a constantly changing science and art. One doctor / therapist may have a different way of doing things from another. We are simply presenting our views and opinions on how to address common sensory challenges, health related difficulties and what we have found to be beneficial that will be as evidenced based as possible. By listening to this podcast, you agree not to use this podcast as medical advice to treat any medical condition in either yourself or your children. Consult your child’s pediatrician/ therapist for any medical issues that he or she may be having. This entire disclaimer also applies to any guests or contributors to the podcast. Under no circumstances shall Rachel Harrington, Harkla, Jessica Hill, or any guests or contributors to the podcast, as well as any employees, associates, or affiliates of Harkla, be responsible for damages arising from use of the podcast.

Keep in mind that we may receive commissions when you click our links and make purchases. However, this does not impact our reviews and comparisons. We try our best to keep things fair and balanced, in order to help you make the best choice for you.


This podcast should not be used in any legal capacity whatsoever, including but not limited to establishing “standard of care” in a legal sense or as a basis for expert witness testimony. No guarantee is given regarding the accuracy of any statements or opinions made on the podcast.

Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC
Jessica Hill, COTA/L & Rachel Harrington, COTA/L, AC

Rachel Harrington, COTA/l, AC, CPRCS, and Jessica Hill, COTA/L, CPRCS are Harkla's in-house Certified Occupational Therapy Assistants (COTA) and Certified Primitive Reflex Clinical Specialists. They have been working with children for over 6 years in outpatient settings. They specialize in creating easy-to-digest, actionable content that families can use to help their child's progress at home. Jessica and Rachel are the in-house experts, content creators, and podcast hosts at Harkla! To learn more about Jessica and Rachel, visit the Harkla About Us Page. Make sure to listen to their weekly podcast, All Things Sensory by Harkla for actionable, fun advice on child development.


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