Picture this: it’s 30 degrees outside, but with the windchill it’s probably closer to 20 degrees. It’s 7:45AM and you have to have the kids at school and therapy by 8:30. Your children are NOT cooperating … and why should they? Who really wants to put on that huge uncomfortable coat and hat just to take it off 20 minutes later? But, you have to get them in the car and on the road NOW if you want to make it on time. So what do you do? Johnny is throwing a fit about his coat and Sarah just poured milk everywhere. We can’t help with the milk (but maybe get a paper towel?) but we do have some tips to help when little Johnny is having some sensory issues with his winter clothing.
Motivators: This is huge for us in ABA Therapy. If you want your child to do something they don’t want to do it typically helps to give them something to work for. Tell them that if they put on their coat you will let them play with their iPad on the way to therapy. If your child is motivated by food or drinks, offer them apple juice or animal crackers. You know your child best, so be sure to pick something they will actually like that also is fitting for the task at hand. Another idea is to let them pick out their brand new winter coat. If they like it, they are more inclined to want to wear it. Let them try it on at the store and find something that won’t irritate them if they are uncomfortable with different textures.
Social Stories & Visual Schedules: At PediaPlex, we use these a lot! But that’s because they are so helpful. You can create a story for anything- even for something like putting on your winter clothes. It really helps your child to prepare when they know what to expect next in their routine. You can even try doing these stories a few weeks/months in advance before the crazy cold weather hits. This way they have practice with their winter clothes and aren’t in for as much of a shock when the cold weather shows up.
This or That: We love this one because no matter what, they will do something you want them to do! Provide your child with two options that you are OK with and then let them pick. Your child still feels like they had a say in the matter, but you also got what you wanted as well. An example of this is: “You can either wear your big coat or you can add on an additional sweater with a lighter jacket over it.” This can work for just about anything – so hold on to this idea for later!
So while we don’t have a ton of snow and freezing temperatures in Texas, we do still have the cold temperatures that require our winter coats. Keep these tips in mind when those cold days hit you by surprise. These tips can also work great on many other day-to-day activities around the house! Be sure to ask your therapist for advice if you need additional help during the winter months transitions.
-The PediaPlex Family