Let's make sure your child has everything they need to get started.
Let’s face it, most of us like to be prepared for change — especially children. And as parents, we’ve all experienced the tantrums that occur when a change happens that’s rapid and unexpected.
The thing is, change is part of life and we now live in a world that’s constantly changing. As adults, we understand that future expectations of our children require them to deal with multiple demands. And we can help them prepare for this by introducing small expected changes and giving them strategies to manage their emotional responses.
With this in mind, we recommend talking through the changes you’ll be introducing through the program with your child. Explain the reason for these changes and ask for their input. Change can be overwhelming for many children, inducing feelings of helplessness and powerlessness. By preparing your child, you’re giving them a degree of control and demonstrating you’re aware of how the change might affect them. This also gives them the chance to prepare an appropriate and measured emotional response.
Using a visual schedule
Structure and schedules help children feel secure because they can see what’s expected of them and what’s happening next. They also allow your child to explore and develop a degree of independence and emotional preparedness.
Introducing a child-friendly visual schedule is a great start. Visual schedules help children cope with switching from one activity to another. You can include a set of pictures to show your child’s activities across each week like the example provided below:
Your first visual schedule should be simple so that people can quickly see how it operates. If your child goes to school, your schedule may just include the morning routine. For example:
|8:00am||Get up. Get dressed.||Picture of activity.|
|8:15am||Eat breakfast.||Picture of activity.|
|8:30am||Brush teeth.||Picture of activity.|
|8:40am||Go to school.||Picture of activity.|
Cut and paste images you find across the web to fill in the visual part of your schedule such as symbols, clip arts or cartoons. You can even ask your child to create their own pictures or add photos of them doing activities. This aids their memory as to what to do and boosts their confidence by showing they can do it. Each image or drawing should represent a specific activity within your child’s week.
As everyone involved becomes comfortable with your visual schedule, you can include more elements keeping it clear and simple. We’ve put together some tips and examples to further guide you through this process.
Introducing games and activities
It’s also extremely effective playing attention-based games and activities with your child before they begin the program. This will help them feel more prepared and ready when it comes to the actual training sessions.
Attention-based games can include word games, number games, puzzles and crosswords. There are also plenty of activities you can do while you’re out and about with your child, such as counting and organisational games. For more ideas, feel free to read through our Measuring Improvements in Real Life document.