Does your child struggle with a lack of flexibility and resist trying new things? These tips for encouraging and motivating a child who "just doesn't want to" may help!
Sometimes children with behavioral or developmental issues lack flexibility and dig their heels in when it's time to take part in unaccustomed endeavors, such as participating in a new extracurricular activity, eating a different dish, or going to a classmate's party. More often than not, once children begin to partake, they thoroughly enjoy the experience. But how can you get a child resistant to activities and new things to that point without a meltdown?
No matter how cross you become, display a composed face and unruffled behavior toward your child. If you react angrily to your child's resistance, you're fueling that conduct, losing control of the situation and eroding feelings of self-worth. If necessary, take some time out in your own space to calm down before interacting further with your child.
Encourage Participation in New Activities
Some kids are just shy, but reluctance to go to social occasions or to participate in new extracurricular activities may be due to a fear of unfamiliar situations or from a feeling of just not fitting in. For children with disorders like sensory processing disorder or Aspergers syndrome, there may be more to the story than just shyness. Social or behavioral issues and resistance to try new things can arise out of inability to read body language or extreme auditory sensitivities. Talk things through with your child to find out the the reasons for their resistance. Role play with your child to show the best ways of interacting with others at parties, or go together to watch the sport or hobby club.
To cope with lack of motivation in children, it's a good idea to customize your strategies for each child. For example, your picky eater refuses point-blank to eat the lasagne you've created because it contains a totally new ingredient: grated zucchini. For a child with sensory processing disorder, it could be a texture or color issue and you may need to take a slow and repetitive approach when introducing new foods.
Children with ADHD are often reluctant to undertake new experiences because they don't see the point of them. Instead of giving a lecture on the nutritional value of zucchini, perhaps say that once the meal is finished you can all watch a favorite movie or play a board game. If that doesn't work, go off to the den and start watching the movie or playing with the other kids. You'll probably find that the meal is eaten up within minutes.
When It's Time to Get Help
Some kids may exhibit extreme oppositional behavior, and if so, it's time to reach out for professional assistance. Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is a condition where irritable and angry moods, defiant and argumentative behavior, and spiteful and vindictive actions are exhibited on a regular basis. If these behaviors are shown outside the home, have occurred for over six months, and are causing problems at school, it's likely time for intervention.
Kids with social and behavioral issues do prefer routine, and cope better with a structured environment. But life isn't always predictable, and while it may be challenging at times, it's wise to encourage your child through new experiences instead of supporting complete avoidance of them.
If your child struggles with difficult behavioral issues or has been diagnosed with a neuro-behavioral disorder, contact us online or find a center near you to learn more about how the Brain Balance Program can help.