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Create Contingency Plans


Social-Emotional Learning ^Extra-curricular/At-Home All Ages Strategy


Anxiety Flexible Thinking Self-regulation

Create Contingency Plans

If your child is anxious about new experiences, easily disappointed or over-reacts when things don't go as anticipated

How To Apply It!

  1. Work with your child to develop a contingency plan so you know they are prepared if things don't go exactly as they hope.
  2. Be sure your child knows what to do if things do not go as hoped. For example, "If it rains today, your game will be cancelled and you will need to go to After Care instead of playing and I will pick you up at 5pm."
  3. Expect that your child might react negatively to the thought of things not going well, but it enables them to release some of those emotions in the planning so they are less emotional if the contingency happens.
  4. Be specific about the contingency plan and then follow-through as necessary. In the example above, it will be important for the parent to arrive promptly by 5pm so the child is not further disappointed.
  5. For younger students, displaying unexpected possibilities in pictures or drawings is helpful and comforting and ensures understanding.
  6. For all children, parents also will need to strike a fine but important balance between managing expectations so children are not surprised, stuck, frustrated or confused yet not displaying a lack of confidence in a child or being unnecessarily pessimistic.
  7. By middle school, children should be contingency planning by themselves. However, parents can help by simply asking, "What will you do if..." to be sure your child has thought ahead. If the child hasn't, try suggesting, "You could do...if..."

Why It Works (the Science Of Learning)!

Improved flexibility comes with maturity and practice. When children's flexibility is positively reinforced, they will feel good about themselves and begin to come up with their own contingency plans. While parents may need their own trial-and-error to find the right tone and approach for a child, they can progressively teach children to handle difficult situations for long-term success.