Experienced Clinical Staff at Applied Behavioral Associates, LLC can help you plan for the Holidays! This time of year can be stressful for everyone. Whether you are traveling to visit others or hosting at your house, stress levels may run high, or even higher for families and children with special needs who may have greater incidence of challenging behaviors surrounding changes in routines. These proactive strategies may help increase chances of success for your child and the entire family:
1. Make a plan to help children react appropriately in unexpected situations. Ask your BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analyst) for suggestions as to how to handle difficult situations that may occur. A tantrum at a rest stop. A plan with your family members and guests for how to respond or communicate. A planned location for your child to take a break if overwhelmed.
2. Create a Visual/Written Schedule for each step of your trip. This may be helpful as pre-alerts to an upcoming expectation and prevent being overwhelmed. Details of the trip may provide certainty and comfort. Although creating a schedule does take some time, it may also prevent challenging behaviors surrounding unknown events.
3. Novel Activities: Consider investing in new games, books, apps, or toys. Their novelty may be enough to help engage your child for the Holidays.
4. Offer Choices during the holidays, since your child likely won’t have much control over your family plan. Offer choices whenever possible, and only if both options are really feasible (not — “we are going home if you don’t’ stop crying” on the way to Maine!). You may offer choices surrounding food, activities and timing for when you might do an activity. Giving some “choice and control” really helps children manage better overall.
5. Praise Good Behavior: Catch your child being good throughout the day and tell them how proud you are! Give your child attention for sitting quietly, engaging in activities, or playing with others.
Our Clinical Staff at Applied Behavioral Associates, LLC would love to help you plan for your Holiday events and help your child be successful! Please feel free to contact us!
Laura Dimmick, MEd