Melissa Schlemmer’s son Christopher has a disability. She shares some tips she has learned to keep Christopher motivated during his therapy sessions.
“Whether your child is doing an intensive therapy session or just weekly appointments, we all know that sometimes they need an extra boost of motivation!”
The first piece of advice Melissa gives for other parents is to bring activities to keep your child interested in therapy. “Your child can add a piece to a puzzle or take a turn at a game in between exercises. Not only does this add a little more fun to therapy, it can also be used as a way for them to take their mind off of what they are really doing,” she says. Melissa shares that Christopher really enjoys reading books. Make sure the activity peaks your child’s interest.
Melissa says much like adults enjoy listening to music while exercising at the gym, music is key for keeping children motivated during therapy. She states,“Much like how adults use music at the gym, you can use songs as a way to help your child understand expectations. For example, let your child know they need to perform the expected exercise throughout one entire song, or tell them they’ll be finished with the exercise when you are done singing."
Melissa suggests using your child’s favorite snack as an incentive during therapy. Increase incentive even more by only allowing a certain snack during therapy sessions such as M&Ms.
Time is on your side. “Some children may be more motivated if they know just how long they are expected to work. Whether you break it down by exercise or the entire hour, timers on the iPad or phone may be helpful so the child does see an end in sight,” says Melissa.
Social stories may help your child understand what exactly is going on during the therapy session. “In the social story you can add who is involved, what is going to happen, and make clear expectations. Some children are more motivated when things are not sprung on them or they are surprised by what’s next,” says Melissa.
Melissa’s last suggestion is to make your child a treasure box filled with things they enjoy that they get to dig through at the end of their sessions. “ Small dollar store trinkets or treats are an easy way to keep your child motivated while not spending an arm and a leg. You can pick out their favorite things yourself or involve them and let them know that these items are only rewards for doing a great job at therapy,” she says.
Remember what works for one child may be a disaster for another. So, parents keep trying and be creative!
Share this post with a parent whose child attends therapy sessions!