Helping Your Child with New Activities: Part 1
Gregory Paquette, MS, BCBA, Vice President, Clinical Services
Your Life ABA
As a parent or caretaker of young children, the days can get long, and the weekends can sometimes drag on. Many families wish to break up the day with activities that the kids will enjoy. Some children jump at the opportunity to try new things and experience fun adventures. However, some children struggle with novel experiences, new activities, or transitioning from home to outings. And during times when a child might be experiencing a developmental delay, or periods of challenging behaviors, it can make new activities seem overwhelming and too much to bear.
You are not alone, and while nothing is full-proof, read on for some tried and true methods to help prepare your child for success in trying new activities!
- Exposure and prep work: No one likes surprises. Especially those any restricted interests. Find ways to expose your child to the planned activity beforehand. Images, videos and books can be great sources of information. Conversations paired with drive-bys and stories about the upcoming activity also work. Social stories work great for young learners. For older children, try relating it back to past successes. A good sign of readiness includes more excitement than frustration or negative talk about the event.
- Practice, practice, practice: Some may fear new places because of unknown activities. It is important to break down the tasks that will be present at the event, and practice at home. For example, if you are going to mini golf, a good exercise would be to practice holding the club at home, practice putting and trying out moving from one station to another. Pre-practice on the component skills will go a long way, both in skill and comfort while there.
- Outline rules and expectations: While exposure and practice go a long way, rules and expectations are critical for success. It is important to review rules before you go, when you are on the way to the activity, and frequently checking in during the outing. Depending on the level of your child, a rules board or a token board may be needed. A good idea is a “pocket board” that can be shown throughout the outing and used for quick checks throughout the event. If a child needs a token board during therapy, it’s a good idea to include it throughout the activity.
Check back soon for more tips to use with your child!
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