Preschooler with Challenging Behavior
When interacting with family, friends, or a play group, a young girl under the age of five frequently resorted to using bad language. Attracted by the reaction and attention of others, she only recognized a response or reaction that was over the top. When interacting with family, friends, or a play group, a young girl under the age of five frequently resorted to using bad language. Attracted by the reaction and attention of others, she only recognized a response or reaction that was over the top.
The family was in conflict as to whether they should even address the issue. Calling attention to the inappropriate language seemed to increase her usage. As the reactions increased, so did the theater and drama of her behavior.
Clear boundaries with rules or guidelines of appropriate or acceptable language had no measurable impact. Punishment or time out had no effect. The family was at a loss.
With the failure of conventional guidelines and corrections, the parents concluded they would have to explore innovative ways of communication that encourage participation and healthy boundaries.
But they had no idea where to start.
Clarity in our experiences builds understanding of connections over time.
The key to learning is practicing at the beginning, the simplest common level of understanding. Communication or rules based on age or assumed levels of understanding based on technical knowledge doesn’t translate to an understanding or working knowledge for everyday use with others.
Our building blocks are participation. Participation that is experienced at the “just right” understanding. We can always manage participation and understanding if we start where we already are comfortable in our understanding and participation. Where we misunderstand, is when there is failure. Frequently, the remedy is repetition of the misunderstanding. If you don’t understand the concepts, no amount of repeating the same misunderstanding will help. Simplify.
Practice and Participation are the foundation of every learning curve. Skill and understanding is built over time.
How do I join, fit in, make connections with others, participate or play. To “join”, we first need an ability to figure out how to join in, fit in with a group. Our first learning curve is understanding “how things work”. Without this critical basic understanding, the result will be failure. If you have been unable to practice at any level of understanding others, your short term progress will have no long term effect.
Opportunities or efforts to change an experience are momentary and your efforts need to be simple. If an approach doesn’t work, it indicates that your efforts need to be further simplified.
Simplicity adds clarity. It is an essential foundation before a connection can be developed.
Clarity by itself only identifies what stands out. Partnering clarity with simple participation make the connection and offers simple opportunities to recognize the value of others. Experiences in simple participation develop connections and allow opportunities to practice.
Punishment and/or isolation for missteps spotlight the error but give few clues to a better way. Partnering the level of understanding of the individual to their level of ability is key. If there is failure, the experience was too complicated, too fast, or had too many moving parts.
Simplify, Simplify, Simplify
The key is to start simple and small. Evolving to complex participation as you master simple steps. The experience of the participation is what changes the outcome. Facial expressions, gestures, and sound effects, all have no language but add layers of participation that make a profound difference.
If you experience failure, your experiment is too sophisticated. Try something simpler, as simple as your imagination allows. Allow yourself unlimited opportunities to experiment. Use error as your guide. When things fall apart, start again, simplify and invite again. You might find the beginning is far simpler than you imagined.
In this case of the child who used bad language, the young girl, when probed, had no idea what the words she was saying meant. This discovery provided the adults in her life with opportunities to change the experience. They playfully introduced demonstration instead of words to invite participation.
Establishing connection and clarity applies to all age groups. This may be an example of a young child, but we all know of a teenager who likes to shock others, especially their parents with language or behavior.
Making assumptions about the abilities of others and what they are saying or going to say leads us to jump to conclusions that are not necessarily accurate. We must partner clarity with simple participation to forge a connection.