Your child may not always feel motivated or be interested in doing their therapy exercises at home. No matter the age, it can be difficult to find the energy or time to do therapy in a busy schedule. The best way to combat this bad habit is by making therapy more engaging. Focusing the activities around your child’s interests builds motivation. However, building accountability and accomplishment associated with therapy has to be encouraged for a child to really feel a sense of connection and success. There are multiple ways to build these personal goals. The best part is these strategies can be used with any child for any task, therapy related or not!
These activities work by creating a goal. The goal must be considered a reward and something that will motivate your child. These goals can be changed and rotated. The most effective strategy is to have your child pick their own goal, such as a toy, snack, or change in environment. It needs to be made clear to the child that they have to work to earn these rewards; these rewards aren’t given. That’s where challenges might arise. However, the activities below make this concept easier for younger children to understand, and definitely a lot more fun!
Token boards are one great aid to help your child being accountability. Token boards are a way to visually track the reinforcement for a given task, and it’s also a type of delayed reinforcement. In the real world, we tend to be motivated by intrinsic reinforcement, and the reinforcement we contact through our environment is usually intermittent. Using a token board system provides children with visual information about “how and when” to earn their reinforcer (reward) and allows them to see the consequence of low-effort, disruptive behaviors. This system helps motivate a child to want to do therapy, while also teaching important lessons about accountability and self-motivation. These tools are easy to make and can be a great at home craft to do with your child while explaining the purpose of the board.
A visual schedule is another great way to help your child focus on therapy and take responsibility for their routine. Visual schedules are great for younger children, such as two to four, and for children with more severe developmental challenges. A visual schedule is meant to show your child what is coming next to help them prepare and cope with the transition. Helping your child to move through activities throughout the day makes changing activity and build an understanding of day to day obligations. This tool can help with managing a lot of behaviors and reach many developmental goals. However, by incorporating therapy time into your child’s schedule helps them to be more motivated and ready for therapeutic activities daily and takes some of the challenges out of transitioning.
First, Then Strips
“First, then” booklets and strips can be another great idea for rewards and transitions. While these are typically shorter and smaller than visual schedules, they work similarly. Place the activity in the “first” location. This can be represented by a picture, word, or combination of both. In the “then” location, place the reward for following activity that will occur after the task is accomplished. For example, you could create the follow “first, then” stripe stating, first therapy, then snack. This gives the child something to look forward to and motivate them to successful complete therapy.