Returning to Basics

Returning to Basics

Returning to Basics

Good parenting happened automatically and intuitively when our children were babies. New parents are attentive and responsive to their babies’ needs and difficulties. New parents anticipate circumstances and dangers, and watch for those teaching moments. They are fully engaged in a loving, caring prevention and intervention approach. Very early in parenting experiences, a parent tenderly addresses a babies needs whether or not they respond in positive ways.

Adapting childhood parenting practices to the older child is a revolutionary, psychologically-sound approach. It is a natural, whole child parenting style. It is instinctive, purposeful, mindful, in the moment, and adapts to the special needs child well.

Dr. Feder cites several limitations and challenges of implementing a relationship model.

  1. Feder suggests: “It is not a didactic model.” I say: We must give up our old notions of the hierarchy of control – The parent’s will no longer dominates the child’s will
  2. We allow for respectful application in cross-cultural contexts.
  3. There is no clear book of directions, and you are creative in the moment, being flexible in choosing responses.
  4. The training required is in how to relate…developing an interpersonal and coaching component. First, the parent, and ultimately the child, must accept guidance. That is where you, as the coach, step in to shape responsive interactions.
  5. Feder says: “Boundaries must be tended.” I say: The parent must tend lovingly to the boundaries. This approach is called Creative Scaffolding because it provides the supportive framework for strengthening relationships of the child and family.
  6. Feder says: “We’re not ‘holding the baby”. I say: Parents are not using physical tactics to punish or restrain, rather they teach coping skills that enable the child to stand on their own. We are coaching caregivers to coach their children to wholeness within the framework of their recognized abilities.
  7. Dr Feder says: “There is a need for reflective process.” I say: this is …. the practice of mindfulness, self-awareness, and breathing.
  8. Feder says: “There is a need for more practitioners.” I say: YOU!

To rephrase Dr. Feder’s question:

Why Use Relationship Based Interventions?

  • “We CAN change outcomes despite genetics,” which only provide a blueprint for potential or possibility.
  • Affect or emotional regulation IS the key to growth and development, and this model is based on affect.
  • “We need to go beyond behavioral treatments.”
  • “Medication can support treatment, but cannot address” relational deficits nor make up for an environment that fails to adapt to a child’s core needs
  • We currently have plenty of clinical research to support the efficacious use of a relational model.

Raising a child with special needs and behavioral difficulties is a tale of love, fear, struggle, and courage. No amount of magic counting, no accumulation of time outs or forced sitting, and no step-by-step sticker rewarded behavior system will suddenly transform an emotionally, behaviorally challenged child into the vision of a child once imagined.

Behavioral Regulation-2-Administer Small Doses of Fun

Behavioral Regulation-2-Administer Small Doses of Fun

Administering fun in small daily doses will be the first challenge for coach and parents alike. After all, what parent thinks about fun when their personal energies are sucked into

  • A perpetual whirlwind of
  • Frequent phone calls from teachers about a child’s behaviors, and
  • Unending fears or concerns for the welfare and future of a child?

 

You can be certain that the stress the parent experiences and has experienced, has robbed them of their ability to be creative. Their tolerance levels are stuck in a stress state of inflexibility.

Coaching How To Stretch and have Fun

When, in the course of the coaching relationship, it is time to stretch a client to consider initiating a fun activity with child or family, don’t make them think about it too much. Simplicity makes for an easier transition. Trust me, having to think about it will hurt. The brain under extreme or long-term stress suffers mind-blowing effects, literally!

Stress prevents the frontal cortex in the brain from processing and accessing stored or new information. When you ask, “What can you do to bring more connective fun into your daily lives?” and your client responds with,

  • “I just can’t think!” ,
  • “I’m so confused, I can’t sort it all out!” 
  • “I wouldn’t know where to begin.”

These statements reveal that the frontal cortex is overloaded, and is not immediately capable of making a clear decision. Thus, It makes sense that your client will have a hard time thinking of part or all of a creative plan for fun in the family. Additionally, it may be a case where they just don’t feel like doing it.

When parents are stressed and exhausted, it is difficult for them to ascertain where they will access all this new positive energy you are about to require of them. Coaches make considerations as to the neurophysiology of the parent, as well as the child. Therefore, parents must begin with the simplest of activities. Recall the analogy of the overfilled glass of water or the bucket ready to tip. Use these analogies to help your clients visualize or physically demonstrate where personal stress levels are for them and their child.

Focus on Being Goal Oriented

We are helping the parent to be goal oriented. We want parent’s to experience success and see the measure of their labors. We are not just filling them up with busy time activities because there is a purpose to every action they undertake. With this in mind we:

  • Begin by helping the parent to identify the end goal of the activity.
  • Ask the parent to articulate what they want.
    • They can write it down and then read it back to you. This way mind, heart, and body are fully engaged in the process.
  • What do they want to get? What will they give? What does the outcome look like, as in these four examples:
    • I want this activity to bring our family closer together.
    • I want this activity to help me feel better about my ability to parent in this difficult situation.
    • I want this activity to let my child know how much I love them.
    • This activity will help us communicate better and show that we can still have fun together.

Setting an end goal and keeping it in sight helps the parent to resist giving up when the first few attempts do not go well.

(The prior statement is a huge clue to each of you, that this is a process. Families will experience a learning curve depending upon the amount of conflict or stress in their environment, and with their child.)

  • Discuss a minimum period for a parent to engage actively with child or family. 15- 20 minutes is appropriate.

This recommendation is tailored to the family situation, and may have to be adjusted to meet the parent or child’s needs. For instance, 10 minutes of interaction is a lot for some parents or children, while 30 minutes is a great fit for other families to begin with. A joint determination of the period of time is made by parent and coach depending on the parent/child’s level of stress, and the ability to tolerate new interactions. Keep in mind, that additions to or changes in routines, and conditioned negative expectations of interactions between family members are all transitions, which upset the balance as the child or family knows it now.

Consistency and accountability affords greater success for parents.

See also: Behavioral Regulation 1 and Behavioral Regulation 3

 

Enroll Now in Coaching Families With Special Needs in Behavioral Regulation

Behavioral Regulation-1-Through-Family-Play

Behavioral Regulation-1-Through-Family-Play

“Play is a uniquely adaptive act, not subordinate to some other adaptive act; but with a special function of its own in human experience.”

Johan Huizinga

Families with children with behavioral disorders…

…may not remember how to play, have fun, and spend peaceful times with each other. Rather, energy is spent in repeating relationships.

When I step in to coach this type of family, who have forgotten, the concept of joy and family time is often painfully absent. Rather, focus is shaped amidst the turmoil and enormous energy spent caring for a child with difficult behaviors.

As parents practice new skills to calm their internal landscapes as well as the environments of their homes, they must also re-learn how to have fun. A vital part of healing the family is reintroducing fun, connective activities, joy and humor into the schedule. A new module in the Coaching Families With Special Needs In Behavioral Regulation provides practical information to help coaches and parents co-create a plan for repairing relationships through family fun.

The other day, when I was in town, I witnessed a shocking event. A funeral procession was slowly making its way down Main Street.. The hearse appeared to have engine trouble at the top of the hill. Suddenly, the back doors of the hearse burst open, and the coffin flew out the back of the vehicle! A few people screamed as the coffin skidded down the street and crashed into a pharmacy at the bottom of the hill. Remarkably, it came to a stop right in front of the pharmacist’s desk. In a flash the lid popped open, and the guy inside asked the pharmacist, “Doctor, doctor! Can you give me something to stop this awful coffin?”

NOTE: What just happened in your brain and body?

Some significant processes occurred in your neurophysiology that have the power to alter not only the way you feel, but also your perception and outlook on past, present, and future situations.

How does the joke relate to self-regulation and repairing family relationships?

Laughter and humor cause the brain to release ‘feel-good’ endorphins that flood  bodies and minds with well-being. Laughter causes us to breathe deeper and fills our lungs and bodies with stress busting oxygen. The wonderful combination of endorphins and oxygen culminates in a feeling of happiness.

Studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic as recently as 2013, show that laughter and smiling relieves depression, anxiety, and helps the body to produce natural painkillers. Additionally, positive self-affirming thoughts, release neuropeptides that improve our immune systems and help us fight stress. This strikes at the heart of our topic.

Neuropeptides make it easier for us to cope in difficult situations. Here are the chemical reactions we WANT to occur more regularly in the brains and bodies of disorganized and dysregulated families and children. This is just the prescription families need to coax them back to emotional balance and relationship; only, they do not know if you are a parenting coach, who arrives to model and teach this concept.

 

Here are some of the challenges you face.

  • Some parents do not believe they will ever have fun or smile again.
  • Others ache to smile light-heartedly and long to regain some of their previous carefree lives.
  • Some parents have convinced themselves that a strict schedule where the child accounts for every minute of the day is the only sane way to keep their child on the straight and narrow; therefore, they do not have time for fun.
  • Others are resentful and angry because of the extreme difficulties a behavioral child brings to the family dynamic, resulting in radical changes in lifestyle.
  • Parents, brothers and sisters have learned to live compartmentalized and disjointed lives in the chaos and conflict that sometimes ensues when living with a child with disruptive behaviors.

All of these caregivers may believe the simple pleasures of life are long lost. It is likely that none of them know how to break current ingrained negative patterns of interacting and bring family together again in playful ways.

Been There Too!

Referring to my personal experience, I recall feeling old, tired, depleted, and played out. (No pun intended!) However, the words of George Bernard Shaw are appropriate here:, “We do not stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”

We know that all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, and this is true for parents and kids alike. The ramifications of a life without the emotional glue of experiencing happiness, love and joyful interactions with those persons who mean the most to us are profoundly limiting.

So, how do we draw our hard pressed and pressured caregivers out of their old paradigms and beliefs and into the lighter side of life? Here is the four step secret formula to help families begin to have fun together, even while dark clouds linger.

  1. Administer fun in small measured daily doses.
  2. Monitor frequently for signs of heightened stress or conflict.
  3. Troubleshoot prevention, intervention, and exit and salvage strategies with parents should activities show signs of spiraling downward.
  4. Reflection of the effects on each family member is encouraged.

See also Behavioral Regulation 2 and Behavioral Regulation 3

 

Enroll Now in Coaching Families with Special Needs in Behavior Regulation

Groundwork: Coaching Families with Special Needs-Guest Post

Groundwork: Coaching Families with Special Needs-Guest Post

Early Behavioral Theories

By Deborah Beasley

The groundwork that laid the early theories for our current understanding of treating, and parenting children with emotional, psychological, and developmental disorders is about 60 years old.

 

Noteworthy names include:

John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, for their work in early parent child attachment. (Download John-Bowlby link for PDF.)

Allen Shore for his extensive contemporary work in affect-regulation

Peter Levine, Bruce Perry, and Bessel van der Kolk for their unstoppable research and discovery in the effects of trauma on the neurobiological and social-emotional development of children.

Their collective, groundbreaking, work is the sound philosophy of this training, backed by the science of neurobiology and neuropsychology.

 

1. Healthy relationship and attachment between the parent and child as its pivotal point.

2. Understanding affect-regulation and brain development as the fulcrum of healing in the family.

Our relationship-focused model combines the best strategies and methods of all other approaches. The results we seek in this coaching/parenting model are

• To support and maintain a healthy relationship between the parent and child and unity in the family.

• To respect the unique cultural differences in family composition, and

• To identify and build upon the individual strengths and qualities of parent and child.

This model uses the best practices of current behavioral, cognitive, sensorimotor and interpersonal approaches, as well as traditional wisdom and related modern science, to create a path to healing which best fits the circumstances and behavioral needs of individual families. We use what is usable within the context of a healing relationship and discard the rest.

Are you a kind of person who wants to help families with special needs by becoming a parent coach but you don’t know how to become a parent coach?

Register for our coaching families with special needs course and become a certified parent coach.

coaching families with special needs course

 

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