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Does it really matter if we are late?

Mar 30, 2023 | Children, Emotions, Parent Support

Everyone is so busy in today’s society. If your child has problems planning, has anxiety, or difficulty processing information this “never-ending rush” can be really impacting on how smooth your day runs.  

Have you ever sat down and broken down all the tasks that need to be done to get out of the house in the morning or before an activity?  

Its not as simple as just brushing your hair, getting dressed and packing your bag. Each of those tasks can be broken down again into smaller tasks. 

 Lets take getting dressed for example. 

  1. Open the drawer or cupboard 
  2. Choose some underwear 
  3. Orientate the underwear the right way so they aren’t backwards or inside out  
  4. Pick your leg up to put your foot in and then the next 
  5. Pull the underwear up and position it correctly  

Now repeat this step with every item of clothing, some which will be more complex involving buttons, zips, left or right feet, hot or cold weather clothing. Something that may now come naturally to all of us as adults is very daunting to a child whose brain is still developing, especially if they have anxiety, processing or planning issues. Putting a small time limit on something that is very hard for them can mean they are turning up to school, an activity or a party already heightened. This means they are not in the ideal emotional state to learn, make friends or have an appropriate emotional response to the fact mum or dad gave them a sandwich cut in the wrong shape in their lunch box.  

Here are some helpful tips:

  • Wake them up 10 minutes earlier for school, so that there isn’t a rush.  
  •  Instead of saying “hurry up”, or “we have to be there in 5 minutes” tell them how good they are at getting their clothes on, brushing their teeth, finding their shoes. Most children respond well to immediate positive feedback and perform even better, wanting to please.   
  •  Break the task down for them into those smaller, more simple steps.  
  •  Help them by making observations like “oh it’s a bit hot today” and give them the amount of time to process it using silence.   

At the end of the day sometimes it might be less stressful if you turn up 5 minutes late, because without the rush to get out the door the child might not be heightened on arrival. Or it might be better for your child to be there early so that they can look at and navigate the different environment before everyone arrives? Have a look at your day and see if you can make tweaks to take everyone off the edge of that next meltdown.

Author: Monique McKernan – Occupational Therapist