My son is getting ready to move up to middle school next year. This is a big deal for any child, but for someone who is already struggling with school, it is an especially stressful time. He referred to school recently as “Six hours of complete misery.” Add to that, the fact that he is starting to be aware of how he is different from other kids and what it means to have “Asperger’s Syndrome” and well. . .it’s been a tough couple of months for him and us.

One of the things that we did to help him cope with the transition is to go take a tour of the new school. We are very lucky in our district to have a special classroom for children who have high functioning autism. In the new classroom, we saw work tables with walls to block out distractions, a break room where you can take a short nap, a quiet room where you can go read quietly, and organizational areas that allow each child to know what books and materials they need for each mainstream class and to take home.

There was a lot more, but you get the idea. My son was practically in tears when he saw the quiet room and the break room because he was so happy. He often needs to take a break during the day, and here are two areas where he can go and cool out in his classroom. I thought the organizational area was a revelation because that is a huge problem for him now.

So all this got me to thinking about how environments really affect how children behave. It seems like if an environment is set up really well then it will be easier for your child to be successful. In other words, how can we adjust the physical areas of our home to better support our children doing what we would like them to do?

Ideas for improving the environment in your home:
1. Analyze the problem areas – For example, you have trouble getting your children to pick up toys and you are always stepping on little bits and pieces in the family room.

2. Assess the reason for the problem – Maybe they are not getting all the Leggos up because the pieces are so small that they tend to get caught up in the carpeting.

3. Adjust the environment – Making it easier to get those little pieces up out of carpeting will make it more likely to actually get done so. . . Try providing a small dustpan and hand brush that is to be used only on picking up toys. (I got ours at the dollar store)
This process of analyze, assess and adjust will work on all kinds of problems to help you and your children come up with better ways to cope with problems. Adjusting the environment is one of the first steps towards calming the chaos around your house.

What are some ways that you have adjusted the environment at your house? We would love to know!

Author's Bio: 

Karen DeBolt, MA is a parent coach and family therapist in Hillsboro, oregon. Karen has a master's degree in counseling psychology and three master teachers--her children. All these ideas have been road tested on her own family so they will work for you too. Sign up for the twice monthly newsletter for more parenting support at and receive my free report: Conquering Bad Behavior Without Stress.