How To Increase Children’s Initiation In Daily Life: Preschoolers

Continuing the previous article about increasing initiation in toddlers with Autism in daily life, we now look into how to create opportunities for children between the age of 3 to 6.

  1. Developing full independence in self-help routines. At the age of 6, children should have already acquired the skills of bathing self independently, using restroom (including cleaning-up), dressing self, and brushing teeth, and carry out all the steps in each routine without difficulties. To achieve accuracy and fluency, they must possess the required fine motor skills, and practice the steps repeatedly. We should also pay attention to the ability of maintaining privacy during the routines. For example, they should make sure the door is locked every time they use the restroom, and they should fix their clothes after dressing and using restroom.

  2. Assigning household chores. Starting from the age of 3, parents can already assign chores to children to increase their attention and effort at home. Simpler tasks can be putting toys away after play time, putting clothes away after shower, and watering plants. For older children, chores are more elaborate which require children to focus for a prolonged period and to attend to details. Some ideas are setting up table for the right number of people, packing school bag in which he has to look for the right items around the house, and refilling water and food for pets only when necessary. From time to time, we can create disruption and obstacles in these chores to create opportunities for them to try out different ways to solve problems.

  3. Collaborating with parents in complex household chores. Beside completing chores independently, children can also cooperate with their parents in complex routines, like washing car, baking, doing laundry, etc. Initially, we need to instruct them what to do in the process, but when they are familiar with the process, we should fade our instructions and require them to observe us and help us when needed.

  4. Allowing children to actively follow and observe us in the community. We are very used to holding their hands tightly all the time when we walk with our children, but it does not encourage them to pay attention to us as well as the environment as they are led and protected by us. In a safe setting, we can allow children to walk next to us without holding our hands, so they have to keep paying attention to us to follow us. When holding hands is necessary, instead of us holding their hands, children should be the one who hold our hands persistently. To further encourage children to observe and learn from us, after we stop and interact with others, like lining up, paying at the counter or ordering food, we can ask them about what we have just done, like what we have ordered, what the cashier has said, etc.

Overall, when we realize ourselves keep telling our children what to do, it is time to identify what they can do themselves, teach more necessary skills required in daily tasks, and create opportunities for them to take initiation to complete a task independently or collaboratively with us.

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