Teaching your child that not everything can be fixed

Recently I posted the following questions on Facebook:  Do you have a child or student who has difficulties understanding that not everything that is broken can be fixed? For example, if an iPad breaks, he immediately wants you to fix it? Or, if the power is out because of an electrical problem he wants you to immediately put the lights back on? 

Needless to say, many parents responded with a resounding YES!
You can click here to read everyone’s responses.

Because this is such a common problem, today’s post will focus on solutions to help your child understand that not everything that is broken can be fixed.

Here are some activities and ideas you can try implementing:

1. Write a social story using pictures and words to address some of the most common challenges. If your child melts down when the iPad runs out of battery, review a story (that you have prepared ahead of time). Include text such as: Sometimes the iPad battery runs out of energy. No problem! When this happens, we need to plug it in so that it works again. We can set a timer for ___ hours, and when the timer goes off, the iPad will be fully charged.
2. Create a worksheet that has three sections. Include: 1. Things that are broken and can be immediately fixed, 2. Things that are broken and have to wait to be fixed, and 3. Things that are broken and can never be fixed. Make a list of items and situations that you want your child to learn about. Cut out images from magazines (or print images from the Internet) that depict these situations, so your child can glue them in one of the sections. Some ideas to include are: shattered glass, a pencil, ripped paper, power going out, broken sunglasses, a broken arm, etc. Some of these items can be fixed, but things like shattered glass cannot. Some things like a ripped paper can wait to be fixed, but a broken arm needs to be attended to as soon as possible.
3. Teach your child what he can do instead of melting down to cope with the stress. He can take a deep breath. Perhaps he can inhale some lavender or another essential oil that is calming. Maybe he can look at his story that you created in example #1, and/or maybe he can be redirected to focus on something else.
4. Role-play appropriate and inappropriate reactions to broken items. Have fun with this, and remember that the concept of things breaking is most likely highly stressful for your child. Be patient as you practice different scenarios, and help your child understand more appropriate ways that he can handle the situations.
5. Use video-modeling to help your child understand how to handle things breaking or not working. You can ask kids his age to act and model appropriate reactions; you can ask your child to act out a specific scene with a script, or you can do it yourself. Video record these scenes, and play them back for your child.

Whichever strategy you use, it’s important for you to remember that your child needs your guidance handling this very stressful situation. Understanding that not everything that is broken can be fixed, does not come naturally to everyone. But, with the strategies listed above, you are on your way to teaching your child a more socially appropriate way to handle a difficult challenge.


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