Lately I have been working with children who have extensive verbal abilities. All at once my new little clients, as well as children I’ve been working with, are coming to me with only “behavior issues.” As I constantly address self-esteem issues as a root of many problems, what I see the most problems with is “problem solving.”
Problem solving is a skill that many adults also have issues with. It’s the reason the news is depressing, our country is at war, couples get divorced, women and men are unfaithful to each other, and child abuse exists. Children need to be able to make their own mistakes so they will be prepared to be independent thinkers and be able to feel good about themselves regardless of the outcome. Once a child is off to school, (and that may be as young as….. well 6 weeks, if a parent has no childcare) but let’s say 2 for discussion sake. A two year old child, neuro-typical or a child with special needs leave the house and it is guaranteed they will not get everything they want, for example, as soon as they get on the bus, they may not get the window seat. While at home I see parents catering to their child’s every need. I also hear parents giving constant warnings of what not to do or ____ will happen. Of course I am not saying let your child touch fire or run in the traffic. Safety first, but lets say your child is looking to jump in a dirty rain puddle. What will happen? As adults we might not like the mud on our legs, but imagine you let your child jump? Afterwords Your child will look at you with adoring eyes, and the parents all around will give you dirty looks. Who do you care about more? Who do you want to bond with? Who do you want to earn trust from?
If a child is free to make their own choices, regardless of the outcome, they will be stronger adults, who will handle situations with a calm mind. If they are constantly being told whats right and wrong, they are not being taught to use their own mind and make sound choices. They will always wait for someone else to tell them what to do, or they will be the annoying child who always tells other children what to do. This is when impressionable children get messed up from peer pressure. Earning trust from your child does not come naturally and vise versa. Setting up situations that lead your child to make his/her own decision is key. Any child with with any special need (including non-verbal) can be taught to make choices as well. Show them two choices of what to choose for lunch, show them two of their favorite toys, or two different color bowls etc. Have them point to their preference.
*Pick your battles *Don’t sweat the small stuff
We’ve read and heard those lines before, but as a reminder make those phrases into signs to hang in your home. Make them look beautiful, paint them with your child. Buy cheap canvas and use glitter. Let these words remind you to have fun and be happy with your child. Allow them to experience life and learn on their own. Admit your mistakes and problem solving process outloud. They learn when you think they’re not watching. *They watch and imitate how you talk on the phone *They imitate the tone of your voice and your hand motions *They put their hands on their hips to show authority.
Letting your child know you are not perfect and admitting you make mistakes is a perfect teachable moment, and a lesson that will last forever, and contribute to them being a successful adult.
Today I was working with a 5 year old boy, he is intelligent mature and independent, he does have an issue with body awareness and dealing with his emotions. We were playing trains. For the last two days we set up the track in a circle with another track leading to the station. I felt bored with this track, so I began attempting to make two circles with one leading to the station. So many amazing things happened. First, my little friend got angry at me for messing with is already satisfactory track. Then I saw it was nearly impossible to make my idea happen because of the amount of pieces we had. I kept changing pieces all around. He reacted with frustration at first, and wanted me to leave the track alone. I was on a mission and attending to my own true nature, I couldn’t give up my idea. After throwing a train across the room (which I ignored) and kept on working. He sat back and watched me, then he crawled under his bed and found an extra piece. I attached it, but still my idea didn’t work. I showed him I was disappointed. He then got mad at the fact he didn’t have enough pieces, and announced “these trains are not working.” He pushed his body away from the trains, crossed his arms and nearly began to cry. We shared a moment of being let down. “Wait! let’s try this!” I moved a bunch of pieces around excitedly, and he got excited too! All the while I shared with him important words; “I really wish I could make my idea work, I wish I had more pieces, but since I don’t I will do the best I can, and keep working hard, I know! I’ll come up with a new idea! A new plan!” Eventually we worked hard together and made an awesome train track with one circle and a long extended curvy track leading to the station.
Without even explaining how many important life skills were leaned here, hopefully you can see how me and this child bonded and that he will take the experience and use it with other children.
Find 15 minutes to play with your child on their terms, and stay true to yourself, find your inner child. You’ll be happy you did;)
Hugs and kisses to all you hard working parents…..
P.S. Share your stories as a comment, I would love to hear how you help your child make a mistake!