When we focus on what I want with children who are complex we can end up frustrating ourselves and the children. Why?
- We set up expectations that may not be able to be met.
- We highlight to the child that he/she cannot succeed (and train his/her brain to stop sending resources to that which is never successful).
- We take away our own power to actually do something about what is!
Children who are slower-to-mature-than-expected challenge us to separate out what is from what I want. Three key leaders highlight how we can help these children move to their next developmental step.
Dr. Becky Bailey tells us that focussing our attention on what is not there (what I want) creates upset and frustration. Focussing on what is allows us to help the child move forward (in small, manageable steps). Her model for "managing upset" for example, supports the child where he/she is at (in physical sensations, feeling words, positive intention, and in helpful strategies)
Dr. Ross Greene uses a "collaborative" approach where the young student/youth comes up with a solution to unmet expectations. The student can focus on "what I can do!" rather than "what you want me to do", while taking into account the concerns of adults around.
Dr. Gordon Neufeld uses a relationship-driven approach. Change occurs in the context of a safe, caring, nurturing relationship. The focus is on coming back to the invitation for the child "to exist in my presence" (without focus on what the child can or cannot do).
To help we must create our own unique connections with each child. Like the beautiful silk art web photos, the result can be wonderfully surprising!