Examples of Skill-Building in Positive Supports

Understanding the Role of Routines, Schedules, Flexibility, and Choice in our Lives

Picture of a daily routine that shows morning, afternoon, and bedtime


An important part of a supportive environment is related to the flow of activities and events in our life. Unexpected events that come up during the day can be exciting and fun. However, we may feel stressed and unhappy when our lives are constantly unpredictable, we aren’t able to engage in actions that give us comfort, or when other people are directing our lives in a way that makes us feel powerless. The routines we prefer to engage in everyday help create predictability and give us comfort. Schedules empower children and adults to choose the flow of events in their lives and to make predictable changes over time.

Routines: A set of predictable actions we take to create a sense of comfort and well being

Schedules: Written, verbal, and/or symbolic outline of events that help us understand what and when events are occurring through the day, being able to predict when preferred routines will occur and change our schedule when needed

  • Describe 1-2 important routines that you look forward to each day. Do these routines tend to shift across the year? What happens when you are unable to participate in these routines?
  • Write down 3-5 steps you take each evening before going to bed. Share this with another person and think about their evening routine. Would you feel comfortable if you were following someone else's evening routine?

Flexibility and Choice

The elements of our lives that we consider positive help define us as people and are important to understand. Learning about what is important to a child or adult we live or work with helps us to improve their quality of life and prevent challenging behaviors over time. The interruption of a favorite routine can set the stage for us to experience what we consider a bad day. We are more likely to react to other people in an angry and frustrated manner when our routines are disrupted. When someone’s routines are interrupted, we can help by empowering the child or adult to reorganize their schedule in order to establish predictability and bring a sense of comfort. Offering choices throughout the day can help children and adults feel that they are in control of their lives. Using a schedule and creating simple ways to make choices about everyday routines can feel empowering while promoting a sense of predictability.

  • Being Flexible: Making changes that accommodate preferred activities, events, and people helps people adjust to events that suddenly change
  • Offering Choices: Giving people choices so that they are able to express their own views and control their lives