November 1, 2015
How can I teach my child to be less rigid about the schedule?
He completely loses it when there is an unexpected change.
A: Good question. The first step is to understand
that your child might not understand why the world works
how it does, why people make the decisions they do, and
why routines are sometimes disrupted by necessary changes.
He might depend on some sense of predictability to be
relaxed and unexpected change might cause him significant
using a calendar or a "change board" as concrete,
highly systematic methods of teaching tolerance for change.
Make sure your calendar has room to write information
on each day. Make note of birthdays and family or community
events on the calendar and then teach your child to "check"
the calendar every morning to see what is happening and
to check for any changes. If a parent travels, you can
mark out of town trips so that your child clearly sees
when someone is leaving and returning. If your child asks
perseverative questions about when a particular event
will happen (Halloween, vacation, trip to Disney, etc.)
refer him to the calendar to find his answer.
"change board" can be used alone or in conjunction
with a calendar. The classic change board is a white wipe
off board hung in the kitchen. The board is always blank
unless something is different about the daily schedule
(a Dr. appointment, a visitor, or something like the monthly
disaster signal). You will need to teach your child to
look at the change board every day to check for changes.
These changes can be simple ones or you might reserve
the change board for the really upsetting changes.
or twice a week, try creating a simple change (not too
drastic or emotionally upsetting - something like shopping
on a different day or going to visit someone) so that
your child gradually becomes used to seeing a change on
the calendar or the change board. If your family has a
last minute crisis that leads to unexpected changes minute,
you can write the change on the change board and then
prompt your child to check it.
might still be unpleasant but by using a system to introduce
change, you can take "the edge off" and make
the change easier to tolerate.
excellent examples of how to use visuals to teach flexibility,
check out the work of Linda Hodgdon (http://usevisualstrategies.com)
whose books are comprehensive and very easy to understand.
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