Using the Activity Schedule for Kids (ASK) Form
For many parents and children, organizing activities is often a chaotic affair that may sometimes leads to frustration, disappointment, and angry feelings. Much of this difficulty is caused by the lack of a child’s experience in organizing and prioritizing their time, interests and resources. Other problems arise from of a child’s perceived interpretation of “fun” without consideration of the inconveniences or risks associated with such activities; the rationalization of the importance of joining (or worse, being left out) of certain recreational events and amusements; and/or an anticipation by parents to approve or deny such requests.
Whatever the child’s thinking, planning outings and events with friends often leads to parental frustration and feelings of being held captive, as plans change from moment to moment. With little or no opportunity for serious parental consideration and discussion, a resulting “No!” is issued which may seem very unfair to the child, and thus in fact may be ignored. And of course, there is the argument, “You NEVER let me do anything!”
Even under the best of circumstances, terrible things can sometimes happen. A child long overdue to return home can easily send a parent into a panic mode, especially if they do not respond to their cellphone – if they have one. Spending precious time to frantically track down contact information to other parents, or friends of your children, to learn what is happening or inform them of necessary information is NOT the best thing during an emergency.
These are just a few of the concerns the Children’s Rights Council offers to reduce by designing the Activity Schedule for Kids (ASK) form. In short, it helps to reduce the worry to parents, while encouraging independence in their child(ren) by promote a strong family in ways that:
- Teach children how to accept responsibility and accountability for their actions.
- Promote a powerful sense of trust and acknowledgement.
- Instill an awareness of personal safety and parental reassurance.
- Prioritize conflicting demands and opportunities.
- Encourage children to consider availability of parental time and other resources.
Create a record of events for journal keeping (names, address, phone numbers, etc.), as well as serving as an important resource for future occasions (graduation, marriage, etc.)
Of course, most children will be resistive to participating in this seemingly redundant form of asking for permission; and some parents will even find it a bother – at first! But the very first time an emergency should arise, or long forgotten contact information is needed, the benefit will be immediate. There is however a secret to the success of the ASK system – initial parental error. Yes, parental error! That is to say, within a few weeks of implementing the system allow your child(ren) to exercise the importance of having an advanced signed ASK agreement. In other words, plan a parent(s) evening out that is in conflict with a previously approved activity requiring the parent(s) to pick-up/drop-off, etc. When the child(ren) discover the ASK form equally works to their benefit, and the parent(s) forego their evening’s activity to honor a previously approved request, the child(ren)’s acceptance of the ASK form is usually near instantaneous.
Finally, while the ASK form is proven to be effective as designed, your family may choose to make changes in the Minimum Notices Required, Emergency Contact Information, Activity Determinations or other features. So please, experiment and make modifications that are right for you and your child(ren). Taking an active parenting interest that involves everyone in the household will certainly help to develop and maintain a strong, healthy family.