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I’d like to introduce you to my little caveman!

I find him tucked in cabinets:


Beneath beds:


Inside of toilets:


Taking over the dog’s crate:


and the dog’s bed:


Climbing onto toys:


And into toy boxes:


Sometimes choosing a bucket over a swimming pool:


and a dresser drawer instead of a bed:


Charlie is just….well, he’s just being Charlie:


Charlie is thirty pounds of pure sensory overload, and children who have sensory issues sometimes like to escape to obscure cramped spaces.  It’s a fact of life. Anything, really, can trigger Charlie to plan his next getaway.  The house could be too loud or too soft….too light or too dark….too hot or too cool….maybe he’s been touched too much or perhaps not enough.  You get the point.  There is no rhyme or reason for his caving.  It is purely spontaneous, which makes him a constant conundrum.

With cavemen cave-kids like Charlie, parents have to be hyper diligent, because we know our kiddos often lack the ability to comprehend danger and can get themselves into squirrely predicaments in a snap.  Aren’t they very much like miniature David Copperfields?  One minute they are in our line of sight, happily playing, and the next, they’ve completely disappeared.  Poof!  They’re gone!  As a result, I have often wondered why it’s not mandatory that we all take Terry Grant’s Mantracker Course.  Yes, there really is such a course.  What?  You don’t believe me?  Just click here for proof: The Man Tracker But then again, who would keep an eagle eye and bionic ear out for our cagey cave-kids while we are busy taking the course?  (insert heavy sigh)

Since there is no handbook on how to raise cave-kids, and since we don’t have enough time for good old Terry Grant, here are some simple tips to consider:

1.  Create a space to “cave”.  Charlie favors laundry baskets and large plastic bins, so I keep them strategically strewn about the house filled with throw pillows and small toys.  I also occasionally cover tables with big blankets, sliding toys that light up underneath, to tempt him to explore.  And since he likes to be near me when I cook, I try to keep a lower kitchen cabinet empty enough for him to hang out.  The key is being in tune to see what works for your kiddo, and then making it easy for him/her to find.

2.  Accept the “cave” in your kid.  I don’t have sensory issues, yet there are honestly times I would like to find a dark quiet space to hide, so obviously, the behavior is necessary for our cave-kids.  If Charlie crawls into the dog kennel, it isn’t hurting anything (except the dog who hates when he does it), so I let him.  If he climbs into the toilet or behind a chest of drawers, however, that is something that COULD hurt him, so I re-direct him to another “safe” place to cave.  The behavior itself is always accepted, though, no matter what.

3.  Acknowledge the “cave” behavior.  When Charlie disappears, I always seek him out.  And when I find him, I affirm him by saying something like:  “Hey, I see you’ve found a safe spot, so I’m going to leave you alone and let you have your space.”  This is completely intentional on my part, because while I may not know the reason why he’s caving at any given moment of the day, I do want him to know that it’s ok with me. That I get him.  That I love him just the way he is.

I hope this has helped.  Leave a comment and let me know what works for you and your cave-kid!