Social Story: Preparing your child for hard events in the future

There are many times in a child’s life that are overwhelming. And although, as parents and guardians, we can’t make the stress and big feelings go away, we can do everything possible to help prepare our child for what is to come. At Just Parent, we like to proactively utilize Social Stories to help kiddos understand what is coming up, how it might make them feel, and how they should act in the moment.

What are social stories?

The goal of a social story is to teach your child how to accept change and behave appropriately in new situations. Giving them a visual example of upcoming changes in a fun story helps them envision what those changes will look like when the time comes, and how they can expect to feel.

When do we use social stories?

Parents should use social stories for life events that bring disruption to everyday life and therefore elicit a lot of emotion. Social stories should be used when there is going to be a big change in their everyday routines. For example, school breaks around Thanksgiving and the holidays, changes in events at school like half days or days off, or changes in at-home routines like going to a family member’s house after school instead of going home. Any time there is a change in routine, it can help to have a social story to prepare them for the upcoming uncertainty that comes with a disruption in their regular schedule.

How should we implement social stories into our lives?

Start small with low-stress events. Instead of a trip on the plane to grandma’s house, start by going to the grocery store or something your child might be comfortable with. Slowly build up to bigger and bigger events like a holiday break or a vacation. This will assist in getting your child accustomed to social stories and understanding the purpose that social stories serve in creating a warning of upcoming changes in their routines. Your little one will also learn how to deal with those changes.

What happens if my children don’t respond to social stories?

If you find your child isn’t responding to your social stories, you might need to take a step back and break things down even more. Try making a social story about a short and positive event. Maybe it’s making an ice cream sundae. This will help them realize that social stories are “predicting” the future events and preparing them for the upcoming changes.

How can Just Parent help?

Signing up with Just Parent gives you direct access to a professional clinician who can help you with any upcoming changes in your child’s schedule. Through our teaching programs, you can better teach your child to adjust to disrupted routines, along with other challenges that come with changes in routine schedules, all in the comfort of your own home, on your own time. Sign up today for a free 7-day trial to meet with a Just Parent clinician to discuss how we can help your family.

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