Getting started can be difficult for anyone, especially for younger children. Task initiation involves two components: transitioning and engagement. Transitioning happens when you move from one activity to another. Engaging is the act of beginning and subsequently becoming involved in another task. Take a look at the following transitioning and engaging tips to help you and your child with task initiation.
Transitioning is the process of stopping the current activity so you can begin a new one. If you or your child struggle with transitions from one task to another, the following tips may be helpful:
- Discuss the transition ahead of time
- Consider using a visual schedule. Many people find visual schedules help them understand and prepare for a sequence of events. You can customize the schedule to your family’s needs and your child’s interests to encourage use
- Give a verbal cue when the transition time is approaching, like a three minute warning
- Provide a cue at the time of transition. For example, to help your child transition from one activity to another you could use the phrase “3, 2, 1 – go!”
- Make it a routine. Using the same strategy for the same activity on a regular basis can help make the transition much easier
Engaging happens when you begin and become involved in another task or activity. Those who struggle with continued engagement may benefit from the following suggestions:
- Make use of a body double, someone who sits near you or your child while they become engaged in the task. This individual isn’t there to help with the task, but instead acts as a grounding physical presence. This particular strategy is best for those who have a hard time focusing
- Consider using a modified version of the Pomodoro Technique. Set a timer for a brief period, such as 10 to 20 minutes, and encourage your child to focus during that time. After the timer goes off, they have earned a short break before returning to work
- Break tasks down into smaller tasks, and be sure that the first step is simple enough that you or your child will feel successful upon completion. This can encourage motivation. Examples include picking up a pencil or walking to your desk.
- Consider the proximity of your or your child’s workspace to other people. Some individuals work best when separated from distractions.
Improving Task Initiation – Tips And Tricks
Are you still finding it challenging for you or your child to transition and become engaged? There are a few modifications on the tips above you can try to make transitioning and engaging seem more appealing:
- Look for a visual schedule in appealing colours and using appealing images. Don’t be afraid to switch things up or look for new pictures if you need something better. Consider investing in custom artwork if having unique or personalized images are helpful.
- If your child is older, ask them about a helpful verbal cue. Some children may have negative feelings connected to one phrase, but are receptive to others.
- When using a body double, pick someone who is close to you or your child but who won’t distract with conversation or unrelated tasks. It is helpful to ask a peer.
- Try selecting a timer that you or your child like. For example, if your child’s favourite animal are cows, look for a cow shaped timer.
- When breaking tasks down into smaller ones, always start with an easy, confidence-building step to encourage motivation. Where possible, end with a fun step or a reward.