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Happy Fall! Family Fun Edition

With school back in full swing and fall weather setting in, there are so many family-friendly activities in NH to take advantage of! From apple and pumpkin picking, to fairs and leaf peeping, here are some tips and tricks for ensuring the entire family enjoys all that NH has to offer this fall!
1.  Fall activities only come once a year and are therefore not a part of kids’ regular routines. Before leaving for an outing to your local orchard or fall festival, provide advanced notice/prepare kids for what is to come by reviewing where you are going, what they will see/can expect, what they will get to do while there, and your timeline/schedule. Most children respond best when they know the expectations and understand how the day will look. 
2.  Be sure to bring your “bag of tricks” with you to ensure that you are able to provide access to motivating/preferred items and activities in the event that there is downtime, or that your child isn’t interested in participating in a particular activity. These items can also be used to reward good behavior throughout the outing, for example getting to carry a favorite stuffed animal or toy as long as he/she is following directions. 
3.  Pack snacks! Nothing is worse than a tired, grumpy, and hungry child! If you are heading out for an event and are unsure of the food options available there, be sure to bring snacks and drinks that you know your child likes and would be willing to eat. This way if your child’s favorite food or snack is not available at the event, you can avoid hungry kid challenges!
4.  If you plan to have special treats while at an event (ice cream, fried dough, candy, donuts, etc.) clearly indicate to your child what, when, and how much they can have before. This will outline the expectation and decrease the likelihood that your child will ask for more, attempt to negotiate, or become upset because they want something that they cannot have. 
5.  Provide a small number of choices while at the event so that your child can feel as though they have some control over their participation and experience. For example, asking if they would like to pick apples first, or go to playground to swing first? 
6.  Attempt to set up the day using a “first this expected activity… then a fun/reinforcing activity” type schedule. This will allow for you to ensure that there is fun embedded throughout the day and that your child’s experience is not perceived as having to do a series of non-preferred activities without any reward or fun. For example, setting the expectation first we are going to pick out a pumpkin and then we will go to the picnic area for a cider donut. 
7.  Check in with your child to ensure that they are hanging in, and attempt to leave the event on a positive note. Once children become tired, things often go downhill fast so try not to stretch them beyond their limits. If you know they begin to tire of an activity after about 30 minutes, try to keep the activity to 20 to ensure you leave successfully. 
8.  To make it easier to leave a fun event/activity, provide cues for the fun or exciting activity that awaits your child in the car/at home.  For example, “we are going to head out now, but when we get to the car we are going to put on your favorite movie.” 
Most importantly, have fun and make memories! While novelty can be challenging for many children, with the proper supports in place, the whole family can enjoy all that autumn has to offer!