Understanding Problems
Learning Social Rules
Establishing Relationships
FAR Ideas
Using FAR at Home
Getting Started & Intro
Find the Key
Clean the Room
Activity Sheets
Library of Activity Sheets
GoFAR Forms
Do2Learn Resources

Session 3 - Establishing Relationships

Establishing a Good Working Relationship with Your Child

Attention is your most powerful tool.  Children need adult attention. To keep a positive relationship with your child, spend at least 20 minutes a day interacting with your child in positive ways. This can be play, conversation, just doing something together without any stress.

While you are playing together:

  • You can describe and imitate (reflect) your child’s play.
  • Encourage and praise the child.
  • Ignore inappropriate behaviors.
  • Avoid commands, criticism or asking questions.
  • Set up a Positive play log.

Positive Play Log

Day of the Week

Time in Positive Play


20 minutes - walked around the block


15 minutes - made lunch together


60 minutes - went on a bike ride


25 minutes - hung out on front porch


30 minutes - played game


20 minutes - dinner time together


20 minutes - drove to park

Avoid Triggers

Another way to support more positive behaviors is to avoid triggers that lead to problems with arousal.

  • Problems with self-regulation occur when children don’t know how to do things right.  This is common for children who have cognitive impairment or brain damage.
  • It is important to think about your child’s developmental stage, not their actual age.  If children have delays, expect behavior that is similar to that of a younger child.
  • Children may not understand what is expected of them.  You need to be sure that they do. One way is to ask the child to repeat the instructions when you give them a task.
  • If it is something a child is just learning to do, put supports in place to help them succeed.  As they get better at doing things, you can gradually remove the supports. (This is called “fading.”)
  • Teach the child to ask for help when they are confused instead of getting upset.

Preparing for Problems

When approaching a problem or a hard task, there are some ways to make it easier for the child and teach them how to cope in the future.

  • Break complicated tasks down into smaller parts.  Praise the child after each step.
  • Provide structure as they are learning.  This might be visual or verbal cues. 
  • Screen out things that might distract the child from what you are doing.  (Turn off the TV or go to a quiet area away from others in the room).
  • If they cannot do it the first time, help them take a small step toward the goal and praise them for their efforts.  As they master the first step, gradually increase what you are asking for.         
  • Allow for “escapes” from the effort.
    • If the child is getting more distressed, stop and get a fresh start.
    • You can say, “Let’s rest for a minute and then try again.”
  • Plan a practice session.
    • Let the child try something for a short time and feel successful.
    • For example, if going to the store leads to problems and tantrums, set up a practice visit.  This means you go to the store, but you don’t care if you purchase anything.  The goal is only to have a successful walk through the store without negative behavior.  The time in the store may be very short.  You can gradually increase the time.

Supporting children who have neurodevelopmental problems

There are a number of ways to help. Here are some examples.

  • Telling time. Some children have not developed a clear feel for passage of time. As a result, an unwanted activity may feel to them as if it is going on forever. OR, the child may not understand when the time is up for a pleasant activity.
    • Sand Timer or Time-timer help the child see time passing.  These are tools to help the child understand time. By looking at the timer, they can relate how they feel to what they are seeing.
    • Control of time.  Using a sand timer, ask the child how many “flips” they want before they have a break. If you want the child to work for 10 minutes without interruption, and you have a 2-minute timer, ask “Do you want to flip the sand timer 5 or 6 times?”. If they choose 5, you have 10 minutes.  If they choose 6, you have a bonus.  Be sure not to ask them an open-ended question! They might say “0” or “100”.
  • Shifting from one thing to another. You can also use timers to warn the child that it is time to shift to another activity.
  • Improving organization with schedules. Many children struggle with organizing themselves and their actions. Schedules can help.
    • Visual schedules can help keep children on track when they have a multipart task.  They also can help children who have memory problems.
    • Schedules can be very simple lists or even pictures if the child can’t read. You can add a check box as well so that they can check things off when they are done.