We all know children respond best to routine and schedules, but it is also very important to teach your child to be flexible with change. Throughout a child’s life they will be placed in new situations and they will frequently find themselves having to change their routine and schedules, there is no avoiding it! There are ways to make it easier for your child so they can adjust to change and learn to be flexible.
Tips to Help Your Child Adjust to a New Routine
The Earlier the Better:
Start introducing your child to change as soon as you can! The more exposure they have to it, the better equipped they will be at handling it appropriately and effectively. If your child is used to change, it won’t be a big deal when it occurs in everyday life.
Plan For Positive Changes:
Pair changes with good outcomes as frequently as you can! You want to make sure you don’t allow your child to think that change results in a negative outcome. Create changes from time to time so your child is used to it and make sure that the change results in something that may be more fun or exciting. As much as we wish this were always the case, there will be times you have no control and that is why it is important to create situations that allow change to be a good thing, rather than a bad. This way if there happens to be a situation that leads to a negative outcome your child won’t always correlate change with bad.
Always create a schedule with them that emphasizes exactly what their new routine or schedule will look like. This allows the child to know in advance what they will be doing and reduces some of the anxiety they may be feeling of not knowing.
Plan New Play-dates:
If your child is meeting new classmates, create a little get together in advance so your child has the chance to meet them in a comfortable, familiar setting such as their home or a familiar park. This again will reduce some anxiety of meeting new people in a new place. The idea is to familiarize your child with as much as you can in a comfortable setting to avoid overwhelming them too much.
Visit The School:
If your child is going to a new classroom, set up visits to the school so they can visit the classroom and teacher a few times before school starts. This will familiarize him with the school and classroom so they can focus on making new friends, rather than learning where they are.
Practice New Routines:
If you are changing a routine, walk through all of the steps involved in the routine ahead of time so your child is prepared. For example, if your child is going to start taking the school bus as their routine to go to school, set them on a schedule to be ready for the bus a week before school starts and practice with them what it will be like to take the bus. For example, review where the bus will pick your child up, drop them off, etc. This will create a sense of comfort for your child to know what the expectations are in the new routine. If necessary, create a little checklist for your child that consists of each step in the routine. This will increase their independence with the routine as well as their confidence in completing it.