Sensory Smart Behavior Strategies
- Increase predictability with verbal and visual schedules so your child can better tolerate transitions throughout the day.
- “After school, we will go to the dry cleaner, then the supermarket, then the post office, and then we’ll go to the playground.” Rethink too many transitions and consider whether going to playground first would enable your child to better tolerate your agenda, ultimately saving you time, trouble, and headache.
- Provide fair warning: “We are leaving in 10 minutes” not “We are leaving right now!!!”
Use a visual timer like the Time Timer or a kitchen timer: “You have 15 minutes to get dressed.”
- Give your child an appropriate sense of control by providing acceptable choices. “Would you like broccoli or string beans?” not “You have to eat those vegetables!”
- Use concrete language and simple directions. Say “Do not hit your brother” not “Be a nice boy.”
- Break up large tasks into manageable units. Say “Put all of your clothing in the hamper” not “Clean your room.”
- Use movement to reorganize bodies and brains: for example, jump, run, march, bike, or climb stairs to change mood and attitude.
- Think about how and when you discipline your child. Ask yourself: “Were there signs of sensory overload before my child had a meltdown? Am I punishing a reaction to sensory input that my child cannot control?”
- Don’t threaten for all eternity. For example, say
“No TV after school today” not “No more TV ever again.”
- Never, ever spank your children if you do not want them to hit as a way to communicate.
- Avoid yelling if you do not want your child to shout. If you do yell, threaten, or have a parenting meltdown, disengage as quickly as possible and wait until you are both calm so you can talk about what happened.