Parents are not necessarily provided with specific tasks or instructions to carry outside of their child’s therapy session nor are they always present in their child’s session to see such ideas take place. However, even small changes in one’s interaction with a child at home can help to improve behavior. Here are just a few simple ideas….

  1. A Countdown

I have observed many meltdowns or temper tantrums by children across many settings. Unfortunately, a good number of these tantrums could have been avoided by the caregiver simply verbally warning an upcoming transition. For example, instead of snatching a toy out of a child’s hand while simultaneously verbally redirecting expectations, the new expectation could be announced, followed by a countdown from 10 or 5 before removing the toy in hand.   

2. A Timer

Our phones can assist in a myriad of impressive tasks, but did you know that they can also redirect your child’s frustration? When using the timer feature to complete a task or activity by placing the phone with the volume on in a visible spot, the child can independently redirect their anger or disappointment towards the object (being the phone) and away from you. Intervalic verbal cues are also helpful during countdowns (ie. “One more minute,” “30 more seconds,” “10 more seconds,” etc).

3. A Stuffed Animal

On one specific workday, I was reminded of the importance of stuffed animals. I found it particularly interesting that two of my clients seen on that day— different ages, settings, services, and genders, both independently invited a stuffed animal into our time. As I was modeling expectations and verbally cueing, my clients were following directions by way of manipulating stuffed animals to complete the task at hand before completing the task themselves. I have since initiated the incorporation of stuffed animals in sessions and in piano lessons, providing guidance as necessary, and have continued to see the positive impacts.

From providing a verbal countdown, to incorporating a timer, to using a stuffed animal, which of the above ideas could you try?