Tips for Helping Your Child Adapt to Change
Adapting to change requires that the brain is able to slow down and think logically. Children and teens with ADHD, Anxiety, or weakened Executive Functioning skills may find this challenging. With all of the unknowns in our world right now there is a need to adapt to change all of the time. We always should expect changes in routines but we have all been experiencing a lot more than anticipated over the past two years.
Try out some of our favorite strategies:
- Encourage Positive Self Talk. Worries are largely negative and sometimes catastrophic in nature. Encourage your child to repeat a positive statement either out loud or in her head as soon as the negative worry thought pops up. Tell her to “Fight the bad with the good.” Positive self talk takes some practice and your child may need frequent reminders but learning positive self talk can truly change the path of a worry and stop it in its tracks.
- Be Careful Not to Create their Anxiety. It’s important that kids are encouraged to talk about their feelings, but try to avoid questions that will introduce anxiety. For example, if you know they have something coming up that might trigger their anxiety, avoid asking leading questions such as, ‘Are you worried about what’s going to happen on the first day of camp?’ As an alternative, give them room to explore their own feelings, ‘What are your thoughts about camp this summer?’
- Prepare your child for changes with consistent reminders and visuals. When changes to schedule are inevitable during the summer season, prepare your child in advance. We like to find consistency in how the changes are communicated, as well. State the changes at the same time everyday. Perhaps this is a review of the daily calendar during breakfast. It is also helpful to come up with a cue word that will alert your child to a change that may be occurring to give their brains a moment to process that there will be a change and they are being prepared for it.
- “Teach the Unknown”. With all of the changes your child has experienced in the past two years, children with ADHD are bound to be thinking about “What’s next.” They get stuck on future events and have difficulty focusing on the task at hand while they sit and wonder what is to come in the afternoon. Help your child “stay present” and focus on the task at hand by Teaching the Unknown. Teaching the unknown means giving them all the possible information they could have about an upcoming change. Include, where it will be, how he/she will get there, who will be there, what he/she will do while they are there and how long it will last. Try to answer all questions they may have and fill in as many blanks as possible. If you don’t have an answer to the particular question, tell your child how you will find out that answer. Will you call a neighbor to see if their child is attending?
- Schedule “Talking Time” with your child each and every day. Talking time is important everyday and can be very helpful to gauge how your child is managing all of the ups and downs and changes that life can bring.
Do you have a favorite to add to the list? Comment here 🙂