CD Board Bag of Tricks


Active Member
My difficult child is somewhat uncoordinated. Okay, so I'm being generous in my description of him. He's like a surrealist painting - arm over here, leg over that, nose on the side of someone else's face... Since he doesn't have a care in the world about other's personal space, I've had to find ways to approach this issue with him that are other than verbal ones.

We've tried a few tricks. Some have worked, other times I need to reinvent the wheel. One of the blessings of this site is discovering the amazingly creative ways people have done things.

To help with boundary issues at the dinner table, we have utilized place mats. We have also tried DeeRW's great trick of putting tea towels under each armpit and making it a game to see who can last through dinner without dropping the towel to the floor (also good for the elbows on the table issue). I can't remember who gets the credit for our latest trick, using hula hoops (Sonja?) to define space. We have two sizes: a big one for walking around, standing in lines, playing, etc. and a smaller one for dining times. difficult child gets a reward (dessert) for staying within the circle during meal-times.

I thought it might be fun to see what other's have done.

So, come on, what's in your bag of difficult child-taming tricks?


New Member
I always find this kind of funny for me, when difficult child is getting really out of control in the summer, I pull out the hose and squirt her. Not often enoughfor her to expect it, but she is so shocked she can't help but calm down and eventually laugh too! Do the unexpected!


Active Member
When difficult child turned 4 we didn't know something was amiss but we did know we had a smart, strong willed child on our hands. Clothes became a HUGE battle and more often than not he'd be flinging them down the stairs and I'd sit him in time out and he'd storm about and...well you get the picture.

I put an end to most clothes battles by buying six pairs of identical pants--navy blue Healthtex knit pants and identical tshirts in two colors. Ditto with 2 colors of long sleeved Land's End sweatshirts and 6 pair of navy blue knit shorts. It got a little old looking at the same clothes all of the time but this "uniform" simplified life so much that it was worth it. He still wears those blue pants in size 7 and Lord only knows what I'm going to do when he's out of them.

I didn't know anything about Sensory Integration Disorder (SID) or kids who couldn't handle change back then but this worked out great. Eventually he branched out into wearing different patterns of t-shirts and was even wearing jeans until an increase in rigidity over school last fall.

Another helpful tip from our life is that we have a routine for when difficult child is heading into meltdown. Again this is something I discovered prior to knowing something was amiss but a (non aggressive) video with a snack and drink can often go a long way here. It often used to be in our basement which is cool and darker but now is more likely to be in his room. He sits on a bean bag chair and we offer a weighted blanket for sensory input and usually offer a drink with a straw because sucking has a calming effect.


Former desparate mom
I like buying several pairs of the same clothes. Smart idea.

My difficult child was pretty hyperactive and drives anywhere were a source of him irritating the heck of everyone in the car. We started using books on tape. They were more calming than kids type music. When he got to chapter books, he would be engrossed for as long as an hour. It still has an almost hypnotic effect.

Traveling by plane was often a daunting task. I would buy 2 or 3 new, cheap toys(that were of his particular interest or books) I didn't show them to him. As he would get restless, I would give him one new surprise and a small snack. This would go on until we got where were going. He would be engrossed.

Walkman's are a godsend. Gameboys with a new game are wonderful for a long overseas flight. I always made it a surprise. It really worked for difficult child.

I agree with SRL about a quiet movie and snack go a long way towards avoiding a meltdown.
Anticipating the meltdown and diverting difficult child is still something I do.

Anxiety is a big part of my difficult child's meltdown triggers. If I could have him visit a new school the day before and walk him through his day, show him the restroom,cafeteria, introduce him to the teacher and guidance counselor. Make sure he knew who his safe person was, it reduced his troubles the first few days at a new school ( I did this before Senior year)

Telling him what to expect ahead of time and what was going to happen avoided problems. If we were having guests over, we did the role playing and talked about what was expected of him. (introducing self, shaking hands,making eye contact, being a host-obviously this was a little more of 9 yrs old and up)

To this day, if I write a list of chores Friday night and tell him they are for Sat. he does them happily as opposed to telling him Sat. morning. Not sure why but I figure it has to do with planning not changing plans. Isn't flexible enough for on the spot changes.


Active Member
Wow! These are some great ideas! I love the photo of the room looking neat and clean Nomad. I'm going to put that one into play straight away!

LovingAbbey, are you sure you are not my older sister? She does the hose thing with me! And I'm a easy child (that's my story and I'm sticking to it!!). I have actually tried that with difficult child and he flipped out even more ... so it can go either way! I'm glad that your difficult child can rise to the occasion though.

SRL, the uniform idea is a good one. It provides a sense of sameness and security that difficult children seem to really need.

Books on tape are an excellent idea Fran. As a frequent overseas traveler, I can completely vouch for the gameboy and new, small toys/books delivered throughout the trip! We also will schedule out, in story book fashion, what to expect throughout the trip ahead of time. Another good trick is to enlist difficult child with various jobs throughout the journey: finding the signs for the toilets, pulling a suitcase, being in charge of his brother at the check-in counter, etc.

I think I'm going to try your idea of writing out the chores on Friday night ... for husband! I'll let you know if it works!!


Active Member
The uniform worked extremely well. Once he settled into wearing that I always included a few items in his closet that I knew would be comfortable alternatives should he choose to wear them. After maybe a year and a half he started selecting those items with more routine and gradually we phased out the striped shirts and when I was certain he was clear I finally tossed the rest into the garage sale pile. I could always tell when he was retreating due to a rigid or anxious day because he would want to wear his color striped shirts.

My easy child son was very rigid about clothes during this period also wouldn't wear jean, didn't like button shirts, etc. I took a different tactic with him that worked well that I'll pass along in case it will help anyone. I selected clothes that I knew would be comfortable and that he typically liked and ditched the rest. For him it wasn't a matter of liking or not liking he just was having fits routinely. I made up cards with holes to hang over the hangars similar to those that might hang over the hangar of a sale garmet hanging on a rack. On each card I wrote the days plus events of our typical week: Monday Preschool, Monday Home, Wednesday Awana, Saturday Play, Sunday School, Sunday Home, etc. I laminated them and then together we would select clothes for about three days out. I didn't go any further out because of the weather. It worked like a charm just because he knew exactly what to expect in advance and wasn't faced with being told what to wear or decisions on his part. My only regret is not thinking of it sooner!

We had a bed in difficult child's room that we no longer needed and was going to be discarded. We put them on the floor and it is now known as The Jumping Bed. They like it better than the mini trampoline because it's larger and they can all jump together and cream each other falling down. It's been great for me cheap and easy sensory input for times they can't get outside.

Last year I found pill containers that were large enough to hold quarters and had a compartment for each day of one week. It makes a great holder for small allowances for things like brushing teeth, making bed, etc. I use it with difficult child only occasionally but my easy child daughter really likes it.

I discovered when difficult child was in preschool that when difficult child said he was hungry, difficult child needed to eat. It went against my grain (and big time against my husbands) to serve him something 30 minutes before dinner was done but we came to realize it was well worth the flexibility. Over time he landed closer to regular mealtimes but even now if he asks for supper early we dish it up for him. His diet is pretty limited and especially for supper he doesn't eat what we do so that part hasn't been as problematic as it might be for others. By being ultra flexible on this issue we saved many a meltdown at my house.

Just a word of caution on squirting a difficult child with cold water from a hose: I did it once in anger and my difficult child came completely and totally unglued and there he was outside where I had no control of him and soaking wet to boot. I don't know that it would be looked upon favorably by CPS.


Active Member
Wildflower, I'm glad the hula hoop idea is working for your son. It was from my bag of tricks.

My difficult child has always had a hard time taking turns. If the family is going out to eat or for an outing, difficult child always wanted to choose the place. I put each persons name on a magnet and put them in a column on the fridge, (one name below the next). Whoever is at the top of the list gets to choose the restaurant. After making a choice your name is moved to the bottom of the list. So we each get a turn and difficult child can watch his name move up the list. We have a rule that if you complain about someone else's choice, you lose your turn and your name is moved to the bottom of the list. These magnets have been on my fridge for about 5 years and the system still works for difficult child.

We use to have a lot of bickering about where to sit in the car, I solved it by assigning seats in the car for each child. No one moves, ever and it has ended the struggles.

For a really hyper kid, I let difficult child ride his miniature bike inside the house. He has ridden it every day for almost 2 years. It's great. Razor makes a bike with wheels about 6" in diameter, (it looks like the bikes clowns ride). The bike has never been outside so the wheels are clean. It really helps burn the energy.

difficult child changes clothes just before going to bed. He sleeps in his clothes and wakes up dressed and ready for school. It sure beats the morning meltdowns over clothes.

We use a lot of rewards for difficult child for appropriate behavior but another strategy that works is to reward the easy child's for ignoring difficult child's irritating behavior. Sometimes, if everyone ignores difficult child he will just quit being obnoxious.

SRL, We do the same thing with clothes and meals. Both are great ideas.



New Member
I learned this one from Jerri who used to post here alot:

For kids who have a hard time sitting through meals, get a roll of that crepe-paper streamer used to decorate for parties, etc. (it breaks very easily) Tie it loosely around each child's waist and around the back of the chair as a "seat belt". Kids who sit through all of dinner without jumping up to run around get a special treat for dessert (we used fudgesicles). It worked for us!


New Member
My difficult child loves water, baths, pools, beaches, sprinklers, whatever, so that's why the hose works well for her.

I never thought of just buying all the same clothes. difficult child doesn't like being told what to do or wear and it used to be a huge battle. She would find her snow boots in the spring, or shorts on a chilly day in the fall, or want pj's for school or dress up clothes. So I stock her cubby at school with weather appropriate clothes and shoes and let her wear whatever she wants. Usually after freezing or sweating to death on the ride to school, she wants to change and her teacher has no problem with this arrangment. Though I don't know that it will work in Kindergarten. I may have to try the "uniform", love that idea! Thanks!!

Also, I use the surprise toy thing when we go to a resturant or a long shopping trip. I have the typical mom purse. A huge pit of everything you could ever need. I always carry crayons, a small coloring book, small snacks and a couple cheap toys, for when Abbey starts to go south so to speak. some times when we are at a resturant, while we are waiting for the food, we go for a walk outside just to have some quiet and fresh air. And if the adults are having salads or appetizers, I have the waitress put in Abbey's order right away and to bring it out as soon as it's ready no matter what stage every one else at the table is at. It helps things go a little better.


the uniform thing for girls can be as simple as clothes that all match. I like Hanna Anderson for a couple of reasons including the fact that much of it mixes and matches but also because it's so soft that I didn't have as many tag and seam complaints. The fact that it washes and wears forever doesn't bother me either! LOL

the table thing... this is Miller Method's table- someone may find interesting.

the trampoline is my best answer to ADHD. my son takes all his hyperactivity out in the yard and jumps till he's calm again.

giving my Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kid plenty of time on high structures, lots of shower time, etc... sensory input has helped mine the most.

and my Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kid still uses straws for all drinks- his choice after years and years of using them for oral motor reasons.


Active Member
Thank you Elise!!! I knew I read about the hula hoop idea on a thread in General about a month ago (I think! LOL); but just couldn't remember whose idea it was. It is a great one. And I love the crepe paper idea as well MplsSusan. I will put that one into action once the novelty of the hula hoop one wears off. I think I've nice rotation of ideas for table issues now!

On the idea of turn-taking, we have used very simple board games for that (not the Monopoly variety). There is a company called Galt over here in the UK (many of the references are British, so I'm inclined to think it is a UK company; but it might be over in the states as well) that sells wonderful games for ages 0-10. When we first started out using them, difficult child wouldn't do turn taking at all. We would stop playing when this happened and I'd go to the doorway and stand there. I'd announce to difficult child that I wouldn't come back to play until he was ready to take turns. I'd stay for 30 seconds and simply ask, "are you ready?" If he said yes, I'd come back to the table to play and so on. Eventually, he'd be so eager to play the game, that he would "give in" to the idea of having to take turns. I would reward good turn-taking by buying him a new game if he was able to make it through a few rounds of games without me having to stand by the door.

OTE - I love Hannah Anderson clothes. We've got hand-me-downs that have lasted through 6 kids - and they are *still* going to be passed on because they are in great shape! Talk about value for money!!

Y'all are such a creative bunch!


Active Member
Yup to sleeping in the clothes.

Many moms give their kids their medications 30 mins before they really have to wake up. The child usually isn't awake enough to put up a major fuss, but is awake enough to swallow and then drops back asleep. Gives the medications a chance to take effect before they have to get up.

I used to make matching "bracelets" (braided plastic) and attach a matching "chain" to them so that we could be connected in stores.

The thingies (be darned if I can remember what they're called) they put around pencils to help grip them can be put around the handles of spoons and forks (slice 'em open and slip on) for munchkins.

Turn picking things up into a game. Take turns tossing into baskets. Whoever gets the most in gets to pick the bedtime story.

I found telling my difficult child what to do after sucking on some helium actually got her to listen and do stuff (once she was done giggling).

Will try to post other tricks as I remember them.


about the food... my Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) kid eats many, many times throughout the day. His snacks are usually carrots with ranch dressing, apple, banana, romaine lettuce with dressing, yogurt sticks, etc. So as far as I'm concerned he gets his fruit/veggie helpings in snacks and his meals are carbs and meat. When I add it all up he has a healthy diet. However he remains below the charts in weight. But this is the best way I've found to get the nutrition in him.

I freeze yogurt sticks and give them to my kids instead of popsicles.


Roll With It
We have had a really hard time finding books on tape that will calm my difficult child down, and difficult child is super attached to Gpa. To help when we moved away a few years ago we got Gpa to read Uncle Wiggly stories onto tapes and difficult child and sibs can fall asleep listening to them. We also use them to calm him down. Gpa has a really great reading voice, kind of like the dad on Happy Days.

I gave copies to the ED teacher at difficult child's school when we moved here and they are now part of her calming routine for several of her students.

We also use selected old time radio shows burned onto CD's.

But for my difficult child neice nothing works as well as Raffi. I hate Raffi. Always have. But it works.



Active Member
I thought of one more. My difficult child has sensory issues (noise and odors) plus gets easily frustrated so I took some care in selecting stuff to make his lunchtime as easy as possible. I bought two matching lunchbags so if one got left at school or lost we would have an identical backup. I found plastic containers that were easy to open for his sandwich. At the beginning of the year I put in a Yankee Candle car air freshener so he could have it in the event odors were too much for him. He only used it for the first few weeks but kept in there for security for awhile.

He gets to have chocolate milk twice a week (Monday and Friday) and we rarely deviate from that so he knows the routine. On those days I clip on a Veggie Tales coin purse to the handle so it's easy to remember to go into the milk line.

Individually these are all little things but together they add up to making lunchtime much smoother for him.


Former desparate mom
I was just going to post that we can archive this in a day or two.

Good idea, Wildflower,

Thanks for the ideas folks.


Active Member
The hoola hoops have been great for teaching adam appropriate distance for personal space....

Products from ikea are also great for kids with sensory seeking behaviours

adam has a seat and loves it...It is like a cacoon and is in a quiet corner...

children with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) also enjoy many of the balancing and rocking toys. They also have water filled seat cushions that are good. It has been found that kids with Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), NonVerbal Learning Disorder (NVLD), and ADHD can benefit from having to attend to their balance when trying to concentrate on tasks...The effort it takes to keep them balanced helps them to focus...

(hope the long links dont mess up the thread)


Active Member
That is interesting Sonja, every time we go to Ikea, the kids both gravitate toward those orange chairs with the pull-down covers and they also play on the balancing cushion ... hmmmm. I'll have to think about that! (We have so much stuff from Ikea, we could probably be a showroom and husband would KILL me if I came home with yet more stuff!)

Again, I have to say that these are some fantastic ideas and thank you for sharing them! I think it would be good to archive the thread Fran.


Active Member
Brookstone makes pillows that provide a lot of sensory input for kids. My difficult child loves the pillow.

It is not just a beanbag pillow but has a unique feel like nothing you've ever felt before. difficult child loves to lay on it, squish it, hit it, throw it. It is very soothing, (I like it too).