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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. [ctt template="5" link="9SWqh" via="yes" ]In the last thirty years, research in the areas of trauma, stress, PTSD, and the child’s developing brain has intensified through the dedication of the superstars of the world of trauma, children, and affect-regulation @parent_coach[/ctt]
Noteworthy names include:
• John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth, for their work in early parent child attachment. (Download John-Bowlby link for PDF.)
Their collective, groundbreaking, work is the sound philosophy of this training, backed by the science of neurobiology and neuropsychology.
[ctt template="5" link="RK_37" via="yes" ]We now know that the healing path for children and families with emotional and behavioral difficulties rests on the firm foundation of these principles: @parent_coach[/ctt]
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.
“Play is a uniquely adaptive act, not subordinate to some other adaptive act; but with a special function of its own in human experience.”
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?
[ctt template="5" link="ueYc6" via="yes" ]Laughter IS the best medicine. No, really! It’s true. We had a decent laugh over the joke I just told, and each of you are still benefiting from its effects. @parent_coach[/ctt]
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.
[ctt template="5" link="bza94" via="yes" ]Now, here is the challenge. How do you coach the long-suffering, overwhelmed parents to initiate a plan to have fun while they are still suffering the after effects of secondary trauma and high stress? @parent_coach[/ctt]
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.
- Administer fun in small measured daily doses.
- Monitor frequently for signs of heightened stress or conflict.
- Troubleshoot prevention, intervention, and exit and salvage strategies with parents should activities show signs of spiraling downward.
- Reflection of the effects on each family member is encouraged.
Consultants and coaches supporting people through life changes can use these tips.
The largest and most necessary step to change is acceptance. Life events always change, and expecting and accepting that premise helps us cope more readily. My friend Louisa received a diagnosis of cancer. Through the support of her family and friends, she coped well during the treatment sessions. All of us, who supported her healing journey, were grateful that she was not embarrassed to ask for help. She gladly allowed our small acts of kindness to ease her path. Louisa got over feeling guilty when asking for help, and I got over reminding her that I was there to support her.
2. Learn to Shift Out of Your Comfort Zone
Does it seem that changes occur as soon as you are comfortable or set in a routine? Most likely, you don't expect a major change if your guard is down.
Download this resource now:
3. Talk About Your Feelings Towards Change
If you tend to let things build up inside, choose now to stop that habit. You may be a person who doesn't like to share personal feelings. Or you might be embarrassed to share them. If the changes are at work, for instance, consider talking to your manager about the impact of those changes. Present your concerns in a professional manner and stick to purposeful breathing which helps you feeling angry or overwhelmed.
4. Try to Turn the Change in Your Favor
The phrase turn lemons into lemonade has widely been overused. However, it’s hard to deny the meaning of it and the impact of that meaning. If you are dealing with change, in one form or another, see what angles you can use to make it work to your benefit.
5. Keep Changes You Can Control to a Minimum
If you try to enact too many changes at once, it may overwhelm the people who are affected by them. People need time to absorb those changes and incorporate them into their lives. Sometimes, the changes you put into place may be out of your control. However, if you do have control over them, introducing them slowly over time helps those who affected to adjust and accept more easily.
6. Join Support Groups
If you have been affected by changes and needed to talk to another person, then you know that we need each others' support. This is so true when death or a long-term illness occurs. Are the types of changes you experience similar to others' experiences. Would a support group help in adjusting?
7. Trust Your Instincts
You may be forced into situations or decisions that go against what you believe.. If you find yourself in such a situation, it’s best to go with your gut or trust your instincts. If the change doesn’t feel right and you have no power to counter it, try to remove yourself from the situation. I have counseled others in tough situations, and solutions varied from changing jobs to taking time from work and seeking another person to help you clarify your vision and feelings. If you need help, seek it out.
8. Change Can Lead to Unforeseen Opportunities
The whole point of being able to deal with change effectively is acceptance. When you start to focus on change being something that is good, opportunities have a way of finding you. These opportunities may not have presented themselves had the changes not occurred.