change the environment, not the child…

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt

Sometimes children need a little help getting out of a mood or mode. We can’t make another person do something, but we can help by proving an optimal environment. Sometimes a simple change to the environment is all it takes for a person’s needs to be met.

Ways to change a child’s environment:

  1. Enrich the environment – An enriched environment has interesting things for children to explore and do. Just as adults need interesting and challenging things to keep them busy, so do children. If you find your children are getting into inappropriate things, try adding some new things for them to do.
  2. Impoverish the environment – Limit stimuli to provide a calming environment. This may be especially important at specific times, such as bedtime.
  3. Simplify the environment – Children have a need for autonomy, just like everyone else. By making things accessible and doable by them, we can foster this need.
  4. Restrict the environment – Restricting the environment can be a good compromise as long as it is reasonable and leaves the child freedom. Some activities may need a special area in order to meet a child’s needs to do them and a parent’s desire to limit messes.
  5. Childproof the environment – Don’t set kids up for failure. Keep limitations and abilities in mind; set up the environment accordingly.
  6. Substitute the environment – Give acceptable alternatives in place of unacceptable ones.
  7. Prepare children for changes in the environment – Children like to know what to expect. Be considerate and let them know what to expect about upcoming situations. Knowing what to expect allows them to prepare themselves.
  8. Plan ahead – Work together with older children to plan for things.

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