September means getting back to busy autumn routines for children and families.
How are your family and your child managing the onslaught of daily organized activities like school and sports again? Are the kids morning routine all messed up? What about the rest of their daily schedule? Are they ready for the much more structured school year routine?
If the daily routine is getting out of hand, the two most important questions to ask and answer about your child or teen, and to teach your child or teen to ask and answer about him/herself are:
“How do you feel?” followed by, “What do you need?”
The answers to these questions provide guidance on how to proceed.
Think about key events during the day. Examples of key events include:
Wake-up. Eat breakfast. Get ready for school (and you for work). Leave home. Travel to school. Arrive at school. Morning classroom time. Snack time. Recess. Gym. Lunch. Afternoon classroom time. Leave school. Traveling. Arrive at daycare. Arrive home. Snack. Sports. Homework. Supper. Get ready for bed. Sleep.
Now think back to the last three days and the key events in your child or teen's day. Or take a snap shot in your mind as they happen in the next few days.
Ask your child or teen: “How do you feel?”
You can simplify your answers to the “How do you feel?” question with three easy choices: too low, just right and too high.
Is your child or teen too low? That means just not awake enough or engaged in what is going on or what needs to happen at that time.
Maybe your child’s answer to the question, “How do you feel?” at a key event is that your child or teen is feeling just right and at his or her best. Bravo!
Noticing what daily activities go well is just as helpful as paying attention to what isn’t working in your child or teen's routine. Be a parent-detective. Teach your child or teen to be a self-aware detective. What is that makes a key event or activity just right and go well on a daily basis? Use what you observe to help your child or teen get to feeling just right.
What if your child or teen answers that they feel too high, anxious or out of control?
When you know how your child or teen is feeling, ask:
“What do you need?”
- What are your child or teen's go-to-strategies? Does your child or teen need to: Be alert? Get calm? Stay focused?
• If your child or teen is too low. Choose something that is alerting. What helps your child or teen wake up and attend?
• If your child or teen is too high. Choose something that is calming. What helps your child or teen calm down?
• Does your child or teen need to feel just right? Choose something that is focusing. What helps your child or teen get in their groove?
To recap, your child or teen’s answers to these two questions - How do you feel? and What do you need? will provide the guidance to help define what is needed for your child or teen to be alert, calm or focused.
Use these two questions “How do you feel?” followed by, “What do you need?” to start building a structured daily scheduled to help your child or teen and your family manage a busy autumn routine.
If your child needs help to establish a morning routine or daily schedule call Total Ability today at 506-847-0677 or toll-free 1-877-784-5353 (in New Brunswick).