What is it? Incorporated with the Ready Steady Go technique (to initiate the start of an activity), countdowns are counting backwards from five to one, providing a clear indication of how long an activity is going to last.

This is perfect for the activities that your child finds distressing or difficult to tolerate for long periods of time, e.g brushing teeth, washing hair, etc

How to use it?

  1. Identify the activity your child finds difficult or unable to tolerate for any period of time.
  2. Using minimal words state what you are about to do, e.g “Brush hair”.
  3. Hold the item corresponding to the activity in front of your child to help communicate. Consider using a picture to supplement the communication if needed.
  4. Communicate the start of the activity by saying “Ready, steady, go”. Click here for for more detail if needed.
  5. Count down from five, and do one action for each count, e.g. brush through hair once for each count.
  6. At the end of the countdown (after 1) pause and let your child reset.
  7. If needed, repeat the countdown, pausing between each cycle until the activity is complete.
  8. Give your child loads of praise at the end.

Taking it forward

Start small. You may only get through one cycle of countdown, or even have to do it really quickly, or you may find that a countdown of three is all your child can handle initially.

Build up the time your child can cope with the activity. It is important to not cause distress and build up slowly.

Over time you can take longer to countdown, and do more cycles of the countdown as your child gets use to the activity and technique.

Read about this strategy in action in Countdown to bed.

TOTS100 - UK Parent Blogs
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