Flexibility and Rigidity Information

Potential reasons for rigidity:

  1. Lack of knowledge about how something is done. Not knowing how the world works with regard to specific situations and events, the child will act inappropriately instead.
  2. The need to avoid or escape from a non-preferred activity, or something difficult. If a child cannot perform a task perfectly, they may try to escape engaging in that activity.
  3. The need to engage in or continue a preferred activity, usually an obsessive action or fixation.
  4. A violation of a rule or ritual –changing something from the way it is supposed to be.
  5. Anxiety about a current or upcoming event, no matter how trivial it might appear to you.
  6. The need to control a situation
  7. Immediate gratification of a need
  8. A misunderstanding or misinterpretation of another’s action.
  9. Transitioning from one activity to another.
  10. Other internal issues such as sensory, inattention (ADHD), oppositional tendency (ODD), or other psychiatrist issues.


Conversation Starters / Talking Points / Activities:

Is your child only seeing two choices to a situation
rather than many other options
   Explain that there are many options/many
   ways to handle a situation.
Because a situation was one way the first time, does
your child feel it always has to be that way?
   Explain that situations/interactions/rules can change
Is your child misunderstanding what is happening and
assuming something that isn’t true?
   Clarify situations/interactions/expectations
Is your child expecting perfection from himself?    Explain that there are many ways to complete a task and
   that perfection isn’t necessary 100% of the time.
Does your child exaggerate the importance of a
task or ritual? There are no small events; everything
that goes wrong is a catastrophe.            
   Discuss/ differentiate with your child that little problems = little reactions,
   medium problems = medium reactions, etc. Make a colorful visual on
   paper/cardboard to hang in the home.
Teach your child better ways to handle problems    Develop a “toolbox” (empty cardboard box/tissue box) with coping strategies
   listed on notecards.
Is your child stuck on an idea and can’t let it go?      Fill an empty Liter Soda Bottle with water/glitter. When your child is stuck on
   an idea have them shake it vigorously. After it is shaken have the child watch
   the glitter fall to the bottom of the bottle.
Set the expectation that when the glitter
   falls to the bottom, we will no
longer be “stuck” on this idea, and we will move to
   the next activity.