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Modifying the Environment

Modifying the environment can be a very useful tool in helping children develop self-control. It is precautionary in that it attempts to prevent difficulties from arising. It is reactive in that it can be done in response to a problem.

The following list includes techniques for building success into the child's environment. Think of some concrete examples or ideas for every category that you may use. You can be creative in how you wish to modify the environment to help promote the child's self-control.

  • ORGANIZING helps children learn how to sort, pick up and find their own things. Organizing increases the child's ability to accomplish self-care tasks.
  • ENHANCING the environment involves those activities that make the child's world full of age-appropriate and interesting items. Posters, books, wall hangings and toys enhance the child's environment. This helps children learn how to spend time alone, occupy themselves, develop hobbies, focus and concentrate.
  • SOOTHING is a technique used most often with babies, particularly babies who are born cocaine-affected. Essentially sources of stimulation are removed from the environment. These may include light, noise, activity, bright colors, etc.
  • REDIRECTING does not restrict activities, but rather structures them to occur in a different way. Establishing certain rooms for certain activities is one way to redirect. Exchanging a safe item for an unsafe one is another way.
  • CHILDPROOFING is something you probably do and don't even think about it. This is critical in terms of making the child's world safe. If you are concerned about the child breaking something, it is best to put it away. It is the job of the toddler to grab and explore. Help the child do that job well. Don't be concerned that the toddler will be unable to learn not to touch or break things. It would be impossible for you to control the child's entire environment to the extent that the child would never be exposed to forbidden items.

Content used with permission from the Child Welfare League of America,






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This content was last modified on: 09/08/2008

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