Positive goals, parent-child interaction therapy, and limiting television
I found a way to use all the previously NSFBlog pictures
I mentioned last week that I wanted to prioritize play time and incorporate the PRIDE skills. I was particularly interested in the tips for things to avoid during focused play time (commands, questions, and criticism). I wanted to give an update on my efforts.
Basically, it was nothing short of amazing. I'd mentioned before that positive goals are more effective that negative ones (e.g., I will start drinking more water, instead of I will stop drinking soda). This totally proved that point. Every time a study comes out about the negative impacts of media on children, I'd get that crushing sense of mommy guilt. Like I need to be one of those moms who never turns on the TV. But when I'd try to come up with a plan, I was always fairly certain it was a stupid/useless one. And then this came along, and YOU GUYS, we pretty much stopped watching TV without even trying.
The advice to not gives commands or questions was especially intriguing to me. It was never on my radar to limit those, as that is predominantly what comes out of my mouth as a mom. And I definitely tripped up a couple times and immediately noticed how it impacted the girls. It was like I could see it in their little eyes, the dynamic of our play time changed immediately and for the worse.
Obviously, the PRIDE therapy skills aren't meant to be a full-time, parenting plan. As a parent, asking and telling is totally on the table, important, and necessary at times. But by becoming more aware of how they impact the girls, I decided to be a lot more intentional and thoughtful about how I used them.
Questions can be overwhelming; and questions, just like commands, shift the power away from the kids (which is sometimes, but not always, necessary/important). That was surprising to me because I was used to offering choices to empower the girls (would you rather wear the pink dress or the green one? versus I choose the dress for you). But I think it is important to recognize that a kid who isn't in a good place (emotionally) can be pushed over the edge by even simple questions like this. (which I get, as that is how I felt as my wedding approached and I was so sick of making decisions. I was like, I don't care what flowers we put on the entry table. I don't care what color the drink napkins are. I don't care about anything anymore! make it stop!)
I started incorporating this advice into other parenting endeavors. For example, connect before you correct, I've tried to take any questions or commands out of these efforts. Now I'll say something like:
You must be feeling really [emotion] to [do this annoying thing]. I bet [better alternative thing] would be a better idea/would help/etc. (e.g., You must be feeling really angry to hit your sister, I bet using your words would be a better idea. You must be really full of energy to be jumping on the couches. Maybe we could go play outside/in the play room instead, where we have things that are made to jump on!) As a side note: the bigger the emotion, the bigger the pause (and maybe even the hug) between the two sentences should be as your child will need more time to process the info.