Help Your Child Build Flexible Thinking Skill

Does your child lose all control when things don’t go as expected? Here are five ways to build flexible thinking skills and help your child more easily go with the flow when plans change.

Find Creative Substitutions

Sometimes giving your child a creative option can work wonders in keeping them from losing their mind. If they had been planning on playing basketball, and can’t because it is raining, try shooting balls into buckets instead. They might be expecting to have a homemade pizza for dinner but ran out of the ingredients to make the crust. A great creative improvisation would be to make individual bread pizzas. You can cut them into different shapes for a more creative approach.  


Model Flexible Thinking

You can model flexible thinking for your child with everyday decisions. Use these times to share your thought process with your child and set an example for them. You are getting dressed and planning to wear your blue shirt today, only to find that it is dirty. Share this experience with your child and tell them, “I really wanted to wear my blue shirt today, but it’s dirty. I guess I will wear this orange one instead and do the laundry later.” It is always good to model your ability to adapt to your child.


Create a Mantra

Creating a phrase or catchy tune with your children can make it fun for them. This can reduce their negative feelings about things not going as planned. You can be creative with it so that it will catch their attention. You can use something familiar like “that’s the way the cookie crumbles,” or sometimes things change that we cannot control, and that’s OK.” You can even have them help you decide on the mantra, so it will be something that speaks to them.


Plan Ahead with Back-up Plans

If you are anticipating the possibility of a difficult situation that your child may not respond well to, prepare your child. Talk to them about the different things that could happen and what they can do to push through. You are going for ice cream, and your child’s favorite is cookies and cream. Ask them to choose some other flavors ahead of time in case they have run out of cookies and cream. Setting the expectation for your child that things don’t always work out and discussing it ahead of time helps them to prepare for multiple outcomes and big emotions and plan a way to cope.


Celebrate Their Flexibility Out Loud

Every time your child succeeds in flexible thinking, make it a big deal. Celebrate the accomplishment of staying calm and choosing a different plan. When they see that you notice, they will want to continue to succeed to make you happy. You can say, “I love the way you paused, stayed calm, and went with the flow of things.” This will give them the motivation to continue adapting well to change.


Help Your Child Accept Change

Giving our children the tools to accept change is the first step. Showing them that it is ok if things don’t go as planned. Making last-minute plans can sometimes be fun. Encouraging them to prepare to be flexible will help them accept those changes that come out of nowhere. Don’t forget to praise them when they are successful in their adaptability to change.