"Go upstairs, get yourself ready, and then we can go to the lake". Sounds easy doesn't it? Some kids (and adults too) struggle with these daily tasks and can quickly get overwhelmed and frustrated at the thought of completing a request like this. And lets not forget it can be frustrating to sound like a broken record on repeat as the person trying to get everything organized. But have you ever tried a visual schedule?
A visual schedule is a sequence of images and/or words that provide a child a clear expectation of what to do for a particular routine or task. It clearly lays out in an easy to follow format, the sequence things will happen as well as when the activity is over. This type of schedule is great for things like getting dressed, going to school, or using the washroom.
Visual schedules are helpful for a number of reasons such as helping with transitions, reducing anxiety, increasing independence, and increasing flexibility.
Creating a visual schedule
Remember that this is supposed to be easy and appealing, so creating the schedule with your child is a great idea. You are likely to get a much bigger buy in if they were part of the planning and creating stages, it may get messy but that's half the fun isn't it?
This is also a great opportunity to model how to be flexible when things don't go as planned. Create some spaces in your schedule to allow for the unpredictable moments, use a blank visual or a question mark because some days don't go quite to plan.
Using a visual schedule
There are a few key points to consider when you are using a visual schedule to make it as successful as possible.
The sun sets the night before we have to spring forward 1 hour on our clocks, 1 hour of sleep is instantly lost. Tomorrow is going to be a nightmare as you get used to a switch in time AND deal with the tired & grumpy kids.
But what are some ways we can help them cope with the change? We have some tips to minimize the impact of this annual ritual of skipping forward an hour when spring hits.
Plan the Lead Up
There are a couple of things we like to address here. Firstly, if your child is well rested prior to the change, then they will handle the change much better. With this in mind, try to ensure they are getting sleep in the lead up to the time change.
Secondly, and this may be the biggest suggestion, stage the time change. If it's not absolutely unavoidable, then don't try to have them adjust to a 1 hour change in one brutal hit. Move the clocks a little bit each day in the lead up. 15 mins per day or 30 mins per day is MUCH easier to handle and may even be almost unnoticeable to them. Once the 1st day of the actual change arrives, it will be a piece of cake.
Routine, Routine, Routine
Did we mention routine? It's more important than ever to stick to your regular routine of a bath, reading a book, or whatever you do in your house that sends the signal that bedtime is coming. This routine will help them so that the only thing that changes is the number on the clock.
Don't Be Too Hard on Them
Yes there may be more temper tantrums than normal, more backchat, or more attitude in general. It's important that you take care of your ability to handle the loss of an hour sleep too, grumpy meeting grumpier never ends well for anyone. Keeping the house calm, relaxed and even a little more forgiving than normal will benefit the kids and parents. Pick your battles, is this one even worth participating in? More than likely not
Like it or not, Christmas is fast approaching!
Yep December is here and the holiday celebrations are starting to step up and impact everywhere you go.
Let’s think about that for a minute.
Then think about the big guy in the red suit bellowing Ho Ho Ho and approaching children. Think about the drive home and all the flashing lights, think about the radio in the car playing Christmas music all of a sudden. And this is just from going to the mall, even just going to get your groceries becomes a sensory minefield.
Expectations are high, there are lots of events with family, friends and co workers. Your kids are expected to behave during all these times that don't usually happen throughout the year, and certainly not all in such a small space of time. Let that all sink in for a minute, it's a pretty big ask for a small child still finding their way through regular emotions.
Watch For Changes & Be Prepared.
Children are entering the time of sensory overkill, and it can be very disruptive to some of them. You may notice small things like sleep patterns changing, moods changing, or they may just be stimming more than usual.
So what can we do? Let’s face it, unless we stay and hide indoors with the curtains drawn for the next little while there is going to be exposure to all this extra activity. The best course of action is almost always good preparation and communication.
Helping Can Be Easy
Finally, please consider all these things when you see a child looking distressed, when there is a parent looking like they are having a rough time coping themselves, or if someone is huddling, flapping, shouting or making other noises to help regulate themselves.
Sometimes a reassuring smile from a stranger says "You've got this, you're doing amazing" and can turn someones day right around ... from just a simple show of compassion and support. Plus, a smile costs nothing.
Wishing everyone a safe and successful holiday season from everyone here at Northwest Psychology Calgary.
As parents we always want to see our children succeed and be happy. As a result, we tend to push them to do their best and protect them from hurt and failure. When we intervene, we can inadvertently impact the lessons that nature and logic provide.
Natural Vs Logical
Natural and logical consequences are great teachers, they foster our growth and build our resiliency.
Keep the Consequence Relative
Consequences are most effective when they are closely associated to the behaviour. We don’t want to take away their favorite tv show because they threw water over their sibling as there is no easy association between the behavior and the consequence. Associated consequences give them a chance to learn what happens when they behave inappropriately. Additionally, it separates the child from what they did, and does not shame or punish the child.
Further, when done in a calm manner it provides children with the opportunity to learn to be responsible and accountable for their own behaviour.
Rules and Expectations
For the most effective impact, parents need to follow some simple guidelines –
Author - Leslie Sugden
Remember being Luke Skywalker in an epic battle against his father or being lost in your own imagination playing outside on long summer days with your favorite toys?
Author - Bernadene Weskin
Children use their imagination and natural tendency to play to explore and understand the world around them. The crashing of two objects can be to test cause and effect; learning that this movement with these objects will make this sound. It can also be a way to gain control and insight over their world. A sense of knowing that they can control what happens and when it will happen.
Testing the Limits
Childhood problems have a way of snowballing into larger problems if not addressed early. Play Therapy uses the natural instinct of children to explore their world through play to help children explore and manage presenting issues.
A child who is loud and destructive is given the opportunity to explore this in the safety of the play therapy room. Here, they can freely test their limits and learn the skills to gain control over their impulses. An anxious child is guided in exploring their world and developing strategies to overcome their limitations. A traumatized child is given space to explore their experience and understand their own strengths.
This constant repetition leads to mounting frustration and an unnecessary power struggle with your child. Our children need us to set limits so that they can feel safe. Testing those limits is an important developmental step toward gaining confidence in themselves and their world.
This power struggle is rarely about the desired object or activity, but often a struggle for control. Your child has a growing need to feel independent and in control of their world. This sense of control assists them to build their self-esteem. So how can we balance setting the limit while helping our children mature into healthy, respectful and law-abiding citizens. I suggest using the “A-C-T Limit Setting” technique developed by Dr. Garry Landreth (renowned Play Therapist).
Acknowledge the Feeling
Communicate the Limit
Target the Alternative
So, if little Sarah is demanding candy at the store, you could say:
“You are hungry (the feeling), but we are not buying any candy today (the limit), You CAN have an apple or a pear (the alternative).”
Or little Tommy is jumping on the sofa:
“You have a lot of energy (the feeling), but we do not jump on the sofa (the limit), You CAN jump on the mat or this pillow (the alternative).”
Already you can see that the child is being given the opportunity to control the outcome. They have the choice to continue with the behavior or choose your alternative. So why would they choose the alternative?
This is when it is important to do the 3 steps in order. Acknowledging your child’s feeling softens the blow of the limit. They will feel heard and understood. This provides security and protects their self-esteem as it validates that what they are feeling is right.
Remember that limits help a child feel safe. Limits should be set with a calm and firm tone. “We do not jump on the couch” should be simply stated like “One plus One equals Two”. It is a fact in your home. This limit should be consistent so that your child knows that every time they do the behavior there will be no exceptions. An exception this time on the rule can mean future limits may be flexible.
And finally, feeling the security of being heard and the safety of the limit, children can choose the behavior that they will most likely be rewarded for… your alternatives!
Limit setting does not need to be a battle every time
There will be times when you need to quickly set the limit. If little Marcus is about to run out into traffic you don’t have time to acknowledge his feelings. Reducing the amount of times you start with the limit will foster a sense of cooperation in your relationship with your child.
Help! My child is still not listening.
If this is a new approach in your home, then you and your child may take some time getting used to it. You might need to think up alternatives beforehand as they can be difficult to come up with on the spot. Practice the technique during less demanding situations until you feel comfortable. When setting the limits:
Author - Bernadene Weskin