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Completing a therapy session with a toddler should come with an award or something, right? They are learning how to be independent and want to do things their way (AKA not do therapy), and you have to find a way to coax them into doing it. So, you pull out every trick in the book and you still have to convince them to even TRY to do it today. Does this sound like you? If so, stick around because we’re gonna cover some tips and tricks to help you survive therapy with a toddler with your sanity intact. Yep, ya heard me right, with your sanity. LOL!
Here are the 13 tips and tricks to help you survive therapy with a toddler:
You need to know what to do first right? You need to figure out what your goals are. If you are unclear or just need clarification, check with each of your child’s therapists. Ask them you need to do and the point of it the exercise. For example, we want to work on upper body strength so she can transfer in and out of her wheelchair. With that in mind, we will do upper body exercises to strengthen her triceps (her weakest upper body muscle). It always helps to know why you’re doing something. Who knows, you might even think of an exercise to help your child with their goal the therapist didn’t tell you about.
2. Use the Therapy Checklist
Use the free Therapy Checklist (sign up below) to organize all of your therapy goals, keep track of when you did them, and what you did. Keeping everything on one piece of paper in one place is a game-changer! When you get ready to go to therapy, just grab your Therapy Checklist. If you or the therapist has a question, you can answer it by looking at the Therapy Checklist.
3. Get help
Get help with therapy. You don’t have to do it all by yourself. Other people can help too. Give your husband (or babysitters) some of the tasks to work with your child on. Just play to their strengths. For example, my husband likes joking and running around with the kids. I give him things to do that work with him joking and running around. That way it doesn't feel like work as much for either of them. He makes a game out of everything and my daughter laughs at everything he does. It's a win-win.
4. Make it fun
Make it fun. You can make it fun by creating a game or competition out of the therapy goal. Your child gets one sticker for each strawberry they eat, or your child gets one puzzle piece for every cut they make with the scissors. Just figure out what motivates them and use it during therapy.
Normally, I discourage multitasking, but during therapy it’s okay. You can work on a couple of goals at one time. For example, you can learn colors while working on standing up at the coffee table. You can work on counting as you work on your food therapy. This helps you kill two birds with one stone. You work on 2 things at the same time doubling your efforts without a lot more effort.
6. Work smarter, not harder
Working smarter means working on identifying colors while driving down the road. Letting them help you stir something in a bowl for dinner. Letting them tie their own shoes in the mornings. Work the therapy into your day to day activities. Just look at your Therapy Checklist and ask yourself what you can do from the list while doing something else? Do a little bit of therapy while you’re waiting in the waiting room. Do therapy while you’re driving down the road. You can optimize your time when doing therapy and get the biggest bang for your buck.
7. Take cues from the child
Look at the child and take cues from them. If they look like they are bored to tears, change it up to something more energetic. If they look legitimately tired, let them rest.
8. Smaller sessions
If you don’t have time for a huge session, no big deal. Just break it up into smaller sections and work on them. You don’t have to do everything at once. Just focus on the bite-sized pieces and work them one at a time. You will be surprised by what you can do in a 15-minute chunk of time.
9. Let go of perfection
There is no room for perfection in therapy. You don’t need to perfect. Progress over perfection, my friend.
10. Be realistic
Be realistic with your expectations. Your child is just a child. They aren’t training for the Paralympics. You don’t need to expect them to go from zero to a hundred in 2 days flat. Therapy goals take time, and that’s okay.
11. Realize your child doesn’t need fixing
Your child is perfect just as they are right now. They don’t need fixing. The point of therapy is to help your child learn how to adapt and do things typical people do in sometimes a different way. They don’t need fixing because they aren’t broke. They just need a little bit more one on one training to help them meet their developmental goals.
12. There is no such thing as behind
The first time I heard this, I didn’t really get it. But when it really sunk in, my head nearly exploded. Your child is right is exactly where they need to be right now. They aren't behind. They don't need to “catch up”. They are perfect right where they are at at this moment. If they don't start walking until age 4, they are meant to start walking at age 4. They were always supposed to start walking at age 4. They are never behind.
13. Use certain toys or rewards during therapy time only
If your child is really into a certain toy or reward, save them for therapy. If you only save them for therapy, they won’t get burnt out on them. They will still love them and want to do tricks for them. This will help you in therapy, so you don’t have to reward with food. You can instead reward them with an activity, sticker, or their favorite toy.
If you want to make your child’s therapy easier for you and them, go on and grab our Therapy Checklist. It will help you simplify therapy time and make it so much easier! Grab your free copy HERE. You will also be subscribed to our weekly email newsletter where I share tips and tricks to help you simplify your home so you can spend more time doing what you love like hanging out with your family or perusing your goals. See ya in your inbox!