Before your child has a new experience, tell her a social story about the upcoming activity. Explain to your child what is about to happen.
There are many benefits of telling a child what to expect beforehand. The child is not confused about what will be happening. The child feels empowered and better about himself. Finally, there are fewer problems at the event and, therefore, there is less stress on all sides.
So, if you are going to Target for the first time with your child, here is an example of a story to share with her.
Today we are going to the store so Daddy can buy some toothpaste and pet food. We will walk into a BIG, GIGANTIC store called Target. I will give you a cart to push and I will have a cart to push. We will use our walking feet as we push our carts. We will try not to bump into anything or anyone while walking around the store.
We will see lots of interesting things. Some of things you might want to have and that’s OK to feel like you want them. You can say “Shucks, it would be fun to have that but we aren’t going to get it”. We are only going to get a few things Daddy needs like toothpaste and pet food and I might see something else we need to get. You will get to place some of the items into your shopping cart to push around.
When we get home, you can play with the things you have at home.
If you are going into a restaurant for the first time after normally going to McDonald’s, you can tell a story about eating at a restaurant.
Today we are going to eat food at a restaurant. In the past, we have gone up to a counter, told the lady what food we wanted, paid her and she has handed us our food in a bag.
This restaurant is different. We go in and sit at a table. We look at a menu and decide what food we want. Then we wait till a person called a waiter comes and asks us what we want. We tell him and then he goes to get our food and brings it to the table.
Remember your child has never been on this planet before. We forget that he doesn’t know some very basic things about how to function in life. Social stories are a positive way to help your child transition into this world with his self-esteem intact.
Gray, Carol. (2010). The new social story book. Arlington: Future Horizons.