Improving Your Child’s Waiting Room Experience

Guest Authored By Kristian S, MS, OTR/L

The waiting room can be a challenging place for families! It is often crowded, with limited toys and space and the expectation to be quiet. This can be a big demand for your child to meet. Listed below are a few strategies to help improve your family’s experience at the doctor, therapy, or any waiting room you might find yourself in.  

1. Use a visual timer 

  • These timers can give your child visual cues to the amount of time remaining before it is their turn. They can be purchased online or downloaded in your phone’s app store. 


2. Create a social story or visual 

  • If it is your child’s first time visiting this location, they might be nervous or unsure of what to expect. Printing off pictures of the environment and reviewing them with your child can help ease their worries and prepare them for the visit. You can also write a short story of what they can expect from the appointment. 

3. Bring Headphones 

  • Bring headphones and have a playlist or audiobook ready. Listening to music or a story can be entertaining for your child and can help them stay calm while they wait. 

4. Play a game 

  • Games like “I Spy” or “20 questions” are easy ways to keep your child engaged in the waiting room.  These games also help foster your child’s ideas and problem-solving skills. 

5. Try a quiet movement activity 

  • If your child has difficulty sitting still and space allows for it, try a structured movement game to help your child remain regulated and engaged with you. 
  • Keep some yoga cards in your bag. Imitating simple poses can be a quiet and structured way for your child to move their body. 
  • Play a game of “Simon Says”. Give your child simple actions including jumping, stretching, and running on the spot. This is a great structured game to use when your child is feeling like they need to move. 

6. Bring quiet toys