Behavioral Regulation-3-Choose Successful Play Activities

Play Activities Contribute to Bonding & Regulation 

  • Coach, clinician, and parents choose an activity the parent believes will be most successful. 

That is, the parent believes they have the ability, skills and presence to initiate the activity, invite and prepare the child and family for positive interaction, and equally include each family member. The parenting coach and parent join in accessing and reinforcing abilities. For instance: Help the parent gauge stress levels and practice self-calming breathing before the activity.

Parent and Coach Role Play Words

  • Gathering the family, (“As soon as you complete your homework and Dad walks the dog, we will begin game night! You can make the popcorn!”)
  • Eliciting the child’s cooperation, (“Where do you want to sit so you will feel safe and comfortable? Do you want to sit near Mommy?”)
  • Words or phrases that convey inclusion, affection, or safety. (“We are glad you can join with us and play rather than stay alone in your room.”)

The parent must also be able to arrange the environment to facilitate their child’s success according to their child’s particular needs. For instance: Perhaps cell phones need to be turned off so as not to draw any family member away from the play activity. Kindles, tablets, gaming systems or other technology need to be put away to limit distraction. Positive ground rules or guidelines are established prior to beginning. This is what you, as a coach, will discuss with the parents before they introduce new activities to the family. You might ask them; “Looking ahead - What can you do to orchestrate success and help prevent a catastrophe?”

  • Can the parent pull from their resources and strategies to adjust the environment to help insure greater success?
  • What can the parent do to create safety?
  • Can the coach and parent pace an enjoyable game and then escalate the skills for a child over activities?

For example, if the parent knows their child has difficulty with close physical proximity to other family members, or, that their anxiety levels rise with increased expectations (even when they are positive in nature) resulting in undesirable behavior.

Attend to the Environment

  • Do lights need lowering?
  • Will soft music or deep breathing help with the regulation of excitement the child feels?
  • Does the child need to participate while sitting on a balance ball, or handling a fidget toy?
  • Does the child or family need a slower paced activity to begin, or one that will appropriately help release the child’s pent up energy?
  • Encourage parents to think like a kid!
  • Ask whether the parent is able to share a game or activity they remember loving when they were their child’s age. Again, this will be a challenge for some parents.
  • The coach encourages a parent to examine the roadblocks they experience preventing them from moving into a playful relationship with their child, rather than a blaming, grudging, and resentful relationship.

I mentioned earlier that some parent’s just don’t feel like participating. Fun! Bah, humbug! Consider this a normal reaction. It is the culmination of so much internal pain, hurt feelings and disappointment. It is part and parcel of the confusion and rejection the parent feels from the child, and perhaps, disappointment in themselves.

  • What is holding you back?
  • Where do your fears linger?
  • What could be the result when you decide to do this?
  • What will happen if you don’t do anything?

Regulate the parent first. Coaches help parents apply and practice self-calming, stress management and grounding or centering strategies by asking: What can you do right now, to organize and regulate your inner body and mind so you can make a clear decision you feel good about, and help your family to enjoy this time together?

Consistency and accountability affords greater success for parents.

See also: Behavioral Regulation 1 and Behavioral Regulation 2

Enroll Now in Coaching Families With Special Needs in Behavioral Regulation

What Is Your Coaching Mission With Special Needs?

As a parent-family coach or coach for special needs families, your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to help parents in similar situations find clarity, hope, and greater functionality in their family. With your help and guidance, parents will

 

  1. find their center of gravity,
  2. push past their feelings of inadequacy and overwhelm,
  3. begin restoring regulation and resilience in their children with behavioral disorders through securing the child-parent relationship.

One agency director informed me that she regularly uses my daughter’s case for training of her new case managers and therapists. It does not give a parent the warm fuzzies to hear repeatedly from mental health professionals, whom you look to for help, that your child’s case is the most difficult one they have ever seen. [ctt template="5" link="cjUt1" via="yes" ]This is the child I have. This is the child I love. @parent_coach[/ctt] These sentiments are my personal reflections and a parent, a parenting coach, and a training professional. The sentiments also match the experiences of some of the parents you will coach…parents, who struggle to move forward after facing the reality of one or more diagnoses like ADHD, Autism, Conduct disorder, or Bipolar disorder. The effects on the family are the same. [ctt template="5" link="9Dqc5" via="yes" ]It triggers a parent’s worst nightmares. Concerns, fears, sleepless nights, and the search for answers begin. @parent_coach[/ctt] This is how a parent enters the world of mental health and special needs…a world where terminology is confusing and diagnoses sound like the unending combinations of an alphabet soup. If care is not taken, a parent or teacher might begin to refer to the child by the labels of their diagnosis, and see in the child’s behaviors, both positive and negative, only as symptoms of the same. As months or years of struggle pass, parents don’t differentiate which part of the behavior belongs to their child’s temperament, and which part is a symptom of the diagnosed condition. Amid the onslaught of doctors, neurologists, medical tests, and therapists elucidating the deficits in their child’s development, parents easily lose sight of the child and concentrate on what they see most, the disorganized and dysregulated behavior. The question that brings this home is simple:

Which child do you see…one with special needs or one who is just plain special?

Twice we prepared to send our young daughter  to long-term residential on the strong advice of doctors and psychiatric nurses working with our daughter. The first time she was four years old. The second time she was nearly seven.

Ultimately, we decided it was not something we could live with, nor did we believe it was in the best interest of our daughter.

It is your mission: to understand the unbelievable, heart-wrenching choices some parents face as part of everyday life. We believed we had tried everything to help change our daughter’s behavior. Nearing the edge of hope, we came to the realization that something had to give. It would either be our child, or us parents and we didn’t want it be either. However, this is not the end of the story…merely the beginning. Information from neuropsychology, trauma, attachment, and relationship, the same information you will learn in course, Coaching families with Special Needs,  We discovered choices and options that allowed us to regain personal and family balance and hope for the future. We changed and improved our parenting skills, and developed a positive healthy plan to parent our daughter. [ctt template="5" link="s01ji" via="yes" ]The information was a revelation that allowed a welcome return to my original parenting philosophy with new knowledge and understanding about raising children with love, compassion, empathy, and relationship. @parent_coach[/ctt]

  • Both negative and positive reactions, actions, and attitudes of caregivers significantly impact the child, and hinder or support the development of secure attachment.
  • Environment, temperament, trauma and stress, is relative to reactive behavior, and internal organization and regulation.
  • Parents can learn to manage, diminish, eliminate, and contain even the most severe behavior.

Finally, we had something to DO. We were no longer on the fringe of being powerless to help our daughter. We devoured and assimilated the information, because we had a lot to lose. We refused to cry uncle! We resolved to be committed! We did not hold back! We completely transformed our outlook, honed our philosophy, strategized our plan in every minute detail, and changed our lifestyle. It was not ever easy, but it was easier than what we had been doing and how we had been living for so long. Let me share who the unruly, dysregulated, and unattached little girl became. She became our mission possible.