4 Ways to Create Structure In Your Home
While we understand that life can be unpredictable and it isn’t always possible to structure every minute of every day, the more you can put at least some structure and routine into place, the happier you and your child will be. This can be extra important for children with autism, but even children without autism are going to be better behaved if they know what to expect from you and the environment.
1. Be consistent with words and actions.
If you say something, follow through with it. If you tell your child that he will get ___ reward for doing what you ask, be ready to give him that reward if he does it. If you say no TV before bed, do not allow your child to watch TV before bed. If you have a plan to put your child in time-out if he hits, he has to go to time-out every time he hits. If your child knows that you will follow through with what you say, he is more likely to do what you ask in the first place.
2. Everyone in the house should be on the same page.
Going along with #1, it is super important that everyone in the house has the same expectations. This include temporary visitors, such as if your mother-in-law moves in for a couple weeks. Not only will inconsistencies undo any of your hard work, the child will learn that she can act a certain way with certain adults to get what she wants.
3. Follow a similar routine each day.
While you may not do exactly the same thing every day, try to keep as much of the child’s routine the same as possible. For example, your child gets up, eats breakfast, brushes his teeth, and then has playtime until lunch. Sometimes you go to the store, sometimes you just play together. If your child has difficulty even with a regular routine, you may want to create a picture schedule so you can remind him of what is coming up next.
4. Be positive!
Praise and/or reward your child for following the rules and for doing what you ask. Some parents wonder why you need to reward a child for doing what you asked in the first place, but positively reinforcing good behavior will increase the behavior. If your child only gets in trouble for doing the wrong thing and never gets praised for doing the right thing, she may decide that it’s just not worth it.