Your child may have difficulties getting out the door for a number of reasons. For example, transitions from one activity to the next may be a problem. Other children may engage in problematic behaviors to avoid a non-preferred activity, acquire access to a preferred activity, or escape transitioning from a preferred activity to a non-preferred activity.
The following are some strategies that may help in getting your toddler out the door. However, identifying the reasons for difficulty is important in making a treatment decision and should not be overlooked.
STRATEGIES TO USE FOR GETTING YOUR CHILD OUT THE DOOR:
• Provide advance notice of an upcoming change in tasks (i.e. a two-minute warning). This could help in reducing “anxiety” related to transitions.
• Use visual schedules to communicate transitions between activities to decrease problem behavior.
• Deliver positive reinforcement if your toddler follows the schedule or completes the transition without any problem behaviors. Some examples of reinforcers (i.e. what increases the occurrence of a behavior) may be praise, food items, breaks and activities. Every child is different, so their reinforcers may be different as well. Figure out what your child prefers and use this to your advantage in increasing compliance with their and transitions.
• Use graduated prompting to help your toddler transition:
-Use a hand-over-hand prompting procedure to physically guide compliance to the transition, regardless of the problem behavior.
-Your toddler may resist this approach, and problem behaviors may increase temporarily before it decreases. However, if you stay consistent the problem behavior is expected to decrease.
• Visual schedules can be used in conjunction with hand over hand prompting and positive reinforcement.
THINGS TO AVOID WHEN TRYING TO GET YOUR CHILD TO LEAVE THE HOUSE:
• Removing the expectation to transition or follow the schedule.
-You may inadvertently reinforce noncompliance with transitions or following the schedule.
-The problem behavior will keep occurring.
Again, it is very important to understand why getting out the door is challenging for your toddler. This information is the basis of any recommendations and treatment.