Top Tips: New Adventures
(My train loving girl)
Arizona has a high level of interest in transportation of all kinds. She spends countless hours reading about and watching videos of trains, especially. In Los Angeles, she’s excited to ride on the Metro whenever she can.
Every time she takes a ride though, she chooses the same exact route to get to the same exact destination (Expo line to the California Science Center). And although this is a fun activity, it’s also important for children on the spectrum to get “unstuck” on the same routine.
A few weeks ago, I came up with a plan to try something new with Arizona. I chose an adventure around riding the Metro, since it’s something she likes and is comfortable with. But then I talked about my wish to take the train WEST this time, to downtown Santa Monica. I also talked about walking to the nearest station to / from our home instead of driving to the other one she was comfortable departing from. Needless to say, she was NOT happy about trying something new. Fortunately, I am used to this (!!). So I let her process it through and practiced some of my “GO TO” tips along the way:
- Listen to the Worry: Sometimes it’s just a matter of letting your child express themselves (note: this can be verbally, physically, scribbling, drawing, or making art). Let them feel their feelings and most importantly, express them / get them out.
- Create a Schedule: Talk / write or draw about a schedule for what the new adventure will look like. Arizona loves when we work on visual schedules together. In this particular case, we also went online to pull up the map of our route. We engaged in conversation about the different stations and looked at the timing of our route as well.
- Be Flexible: Even when we want our children to try something new, we find ourselves getting rigid about the way it needs to happen. Isn’t it amazing how much we can learn from our children: to be flexible and learn to go with the flow, as needed? Listen to your child’s needs and make changes, accordingly.
- Getting on Board: Allow the time and space for your child to get through their worries, understand the new plan, participate in the planning and come up with the decision from the inside out. In this particular case (and after all of these steps), Arizona finally said to me, “Okay Mommy, I’ll try it but JUST this once.”
And guess what? We had such a fun adventure! Arizona had a great time and is already talking about our next Metro ride somewhere new. I was able to be present in the moment of spending quality time with my daughter. I am so grateful for these moments.
(A successful outing!)
What are your tips for helping your child try something new? I would love for you to share!