Visual Structures for Kids



Structure is really important in our day and in our lives. We need to know
when things are beginning and when things are ending as it help us
understand where we are in time and space. It also helps us to manage
anxiety, when we are in a space that is really uncomfortable.
Most people find that knowing when things are going to get better helps us
get through hard times. This is especially true when we have external
constraints on us and we need to feel that we can have some control. It’s
also important to think about where this structure is coming from. For some
when we perceive that it is being put upon us, it can be a little harder to deal
with, but when we feel we are part of the creating this structure it is easier to
The same is true for children. Think about how useful it is for children to
know what day it is, what activities they are going to be doing that day, how
long is it until their next meal time, how long until their next birthday or
holiday. Children will sometimes ask questions when they are looking for
this structure, (sometimes repeatedly!!), but others don’t ask questions but
may show you in unsettled behaviour that they are (possibly) needing more
structure and containment.
One way of giving structure or to communicate the structure in your home is
to develop visuals to help them understand where they are in time and place. This is especially true when if they don’t yet have a sense of time (either in
minutes, weeks or years yet). So be mindful of the importance of structure
and communicating this in your family. At the same time you may find some
children really rebel against imposed structure, so you may find that you
have to be more collaborative in your approach to have structure in their
lives and those of your families.
So how does structure show up in your life and how do you communicate
that structure to your family?

Kate x

Published by Kate French

Clinical Psychologist; expertise in autism and child and family psychology.

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