Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Make a picture schedule.

What you can do

Make a fun-looking chart that lists your child’s daily activities in sequential order. Include pictures on the chart to help remind your child what she’s expected to be doing throughout the day. Use these visual reminders to help establish simple and predictable routines for household chores, mealtime, playtime, homework, afterschool activities and bedtime.

Pair each of the pictures with the time on a digital clock when your child is expected to start or stop the activity. For example, a schedule of your child’s morning routine could include a sun at 6:15 for wake-up, a toothbrush at 6:30 for morning hygiene and a bowl of cereal at 6:45 for breakfast. Let your child help draw the pictures or take digital ones to put on the chart. Post it on the bathroom mirror.

What you can say

“Sofia, I’ve got a new way to help you keep track of your day. Let’s make a colorful chart that lists all the big things you need to do from waking up until bedtime. I’ll write down each step, one by one—and you can draw a picture to go along with each step.”

“So what’s the first thing you do in the morning? Yes! Wake up! So the first thing I’m going to write on the chart is WAKE UP. What picture makes you thing of waking up, Sofia? Good choice! So now you can draw a picture of the sun right next to WAKE UP. Do you know what time you get up every day? Yup, 6:15. Can you write that under your sun? Looks good.”

“What’s the next thing you do after you get out of bed, Sofia? Yup, you go to the bathroom and get yourself cleaned up. So I’ll write USE THE BATHROOM and maybe you can draw a picture of a toothbrush next to it? Now you can write 6:30 under the toothbrush. Do you think that time is about right?”

“What happens next? Breakfast. Yes, a bowl of cereal is a great idea for your picture. I think we're getting the hang of this, aren’t we? I bet this chart is going to work really well. I can’t wait for you try it out tomorrow!”

Why this will help

Picture schedules help children remember daily routines and stick to them. Giving children a clear sense of what they are expected to do throughout the day will also ease their anxiety and frustration about upcoming transitions.

Predictability is especially important for kids with attention issues, who are often distractible and lose focus easily. Picture schedules can help them get back on track and help learn to move through the day more effectively.

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