Occupational Therapy tips: making home life easier
At Cooee Speech Pathology, our brisbane north Occupational Therapists work with kids and their families to help daily routines and events flow more smoothly.
At University, our Occupational Therapists study Occupation – but what does this mean for families?
Occupation is defined as engagement in meaningful activities.
What is ‘meaningful’ changes from family to family, and child to child. Our OTs assist each child and family to more readily engage in their meaningful activities in harmony with each other.
Some Occupations found at home for children may include:
- Following Daily Routines
- Activities of Daily Life
- Self Care Tasks
- Helping around the home
What are Cooee’s top tips for making life at home easier?
Routine is one of the key principles to making anything easier. When in a routine, children and adults can predict how their day is going to go and flow through it with ease. When a bump in the road occurs, we know we can focus energy on sorting it rather than needing to focus both on the problem and also how our day runs.
Keeping a set routine, allows predictability and comfort for everyone in the family.
Routine can be shown to children in multiple ways:
- Verbally – telling your child each day what they routine is
- Visually – showing the child on a chart or calendar what is going to happen
Assisting children to move into a routine allows them to move into a comfortable rhythm so they can focus on more meaningful activities to them like homework, play, and spending time with friends and family.
Keeping routine predictably is always helpful. It allows your child to anticipate what is coming and what they will be expected to do. This allows parents to introduce a change in routine without eliciting a large behavioural response in the child because the child isn’t trying to predict what happens around the event as well as the event itself.
Predictability not only refers to routine as spoken about above, but also to the way in which parents respond.
If a different response is given to a behaviour or event every time, the child cannot be sure which response is going to be given, therefore they may remain on high alert more often than not, making it hard for them to relax and regulate their emotions.
To increase predictability in the home:
- Respond to your child’s emotional upset in the same manner – calm, comforting, and with the same consequences for similar behaviours
- Keep a familiar routine in the morning and evening e.g. get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, read a book, school.
- Draw out a plan for your day and pop it on the fridge so your child can follow along with what is next
- Before ending an activity abruptly for your child (who likes to finish what they’re doing when you’re in the middle e.g. watching a TV show) allow them an appropriate amount of time to finish the activity before packing up or switching off
- Use timers for short activities or reward time to assist your child know when they will have to finish
To make your home life easier, helping everyone to remain regulated always makes for a smoother ride.
As a parent, ‘keeping your cool’ (aka remaining regulated) can be your biggest asset, even if it is only in front of the kids.
When you, as parents, can regulate your behaviour and emotions, your children can watch you to form a blueprint for how they can regulate themselves.
Following these steps can help your child remain regulated as well:
- Talking through your emotions and what is happening in your body: I can feel my body getting hot and wanting to yell
- Think out loud what options you have: I could yell and scream but that probably isn’t helpful OR I could take a big breathe, let it all out, do a wiggle and figure out what next, that will be helpful
- Make a plan out loud: Yes, I will take a few big breaths to help me through this then get the broom and sweep up this broken cup
- Carry out the plan
- Make a statement of completion after if you want: Ah, those breaths really helped me and now the mess is tidied and we can go on with our day
Being playful with your child helps them to trust you and move through big emotions more comfortably.
Playing with your child for a few minutes a day, fills their emotional tank.
When your child’s emotional tank is full they are more able to use helpful strategies to regulate, and more likely to do something you would like them to do.
In a world where we fill our lives with technology and things we just have to do, we need to take a step back and just play with our children.
Play is essential for learning, developing literacy skills, developing social skills and problem solving. All of these will help make your home life easier by building capacity in your little one.
For more – check out our Geebung Occupational Therapist blogs on play here.