Does this picture of guest blogger Amy Stout‘s daughter Kylie kissing her Prince Charming (aka Daddy) make you smile? Then be prepared to keep smiling for the duration of the second post in her series about preparing kids with special needs for out-of-the-ordinary circumstances. (Click here to read Part 1.) Today, Amy talks about the benefits of of making a special needs connection by speaking a child’s language.
The Special Needs Connection Between Scheduling and Cooperation, Part 2
The Benefits of the Special Needs Connection
There are multiple benefits for using a list/schedule with numbers/counting:
- Your child’s expectations are set in advance. They know exactly what is going to happen and their anxiety is lessened because the element of surprise is now neutralized.
- They know that the task at hand has a beginning and an ending. They know there will be a firm stopping point and they know WHEN that will occur.
- Having a numbered list/schedule helps them to know in what order the steps are to be completed. They don’t have to worry about “What’s next?”
- The concern/anxiety of the unknown is greatly eliminated or lessened.
- They know in advance what is required of them and have an opportunity to ask questions or to prepare mentally for what is coming.
Additional Advice about the Special Needs Connection
When your children protest (and they WILL at times), be sure to discipline appropriately. Do NOT discipline your children for communicating with you – even if they are screaming a NO! Instead, address the attitude, tone, and level of politeness that frames the communication as the examples below demonstrate.
- When your child screams “No!!” calmly say to your child, “Thank you for telling me. I can tell that you don’t want to do what mommy asks.”
- You have just created a safe place/platform in which to communicate with your child. You have also effectively modeled the tone of voice and calm demeanor of how conversation should be handled. This doesn’t mean that your child will get out of following your directions, but it allows him/her to know that you are listening and hearing their voice. Your child will feel validated and oftentimes is willing to tone things down and proceed with constructive dialogue verbally, through pictures, signing or whatever form your communication might be.
- Express to your child the message, “We need to be kind to each other and talk nicely. It’s okay that you don’t like what I asked, but you need to tell me with kind words in a quiet/calm voice.” As a parent, you can say it in many words or consolidate it to just a few. You will know what your child’s specific needs are, but usually, in these cases, less is more. You want your child to know that they can say/communicate anything to you – nothing is off limits, BUT that they need to do so in a respectful and appropriate way.
The point of going through these added steps is to help your child to explore and discover what they are feeling and mold him/her into an adult who can communicate effectively and appropriately. It does take a little extra time, but it will pay off with closeness and cooperation in the end.
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