Sometimes it isn’t so much about your child’s communication skills or lack of them, but how this makes you feel.
When Dianne got in touch, she was caught up in all of the things James couldn’t do.
He could not say ‘bye’, he could not wave, he could not say his name, he could not concentrate and did not listen. This made her worry about when he was going to do all these things, desperate to be able to say he had these skills.
In turn, Dianne wondered why he could not do these things and had decided it was her fault. In short, Dianne was trapped in a negative spiral of thoughts and feelings that left her feeling lost and alone.
We are so pleased she reached out for help and support. What surprised Dianne was that our initial suggestions were not so much about how James could start listening and talking more, but how she could reframe the situation and feel better about herself.
We gave Dianne the following 3 tips to turn her negative downward spiral into a positive upward one instead.
Tip 1 – Focus on the strengths
The first thing Dianne did was to write down a list of 5 things James could do really well.
They didn’t have to be communication-related, just positive statements about his strengths. She added photographs to the statements to bring them alive and placed the list in a prominent place so she would see it regularly and bring a smile to her face.
We then discussed all of the skills James had relating directly to communication. It turns out he had developed quite a few! Once this list had begun, Dianne could regularly add more and more and there was a clear shift in her interactions with James as a result.
Tip 2 – Add the word ‘yet’
Now that we had begun to focus more on James’ strengths we revisited the things he couldn’t do, such as waving and saying ‘bye’; only this time to each statement we added the word ‘yet’.
This small but powerful word carries with it the hope and promise that one day the skill will be achieved, that it is possible.
Now Dianne says that James can’t say his name yet… but one day soon he will, and she smiles as she says this. By now Dianne was feeling much more positive about James, his communication and the future in general.
Tip 3 – Celebrate the small steps
We added one more strategy to Dianne’s positivity toolkit, celebrating the small steps.
When writing the list of strengths we noticed how some of James’ skills might be small steps towards the bigger goal of clear speech, but they were still taking him in the right direction. If he acquired enough smaller steps they would turn into bigger steps over time.
Dianne was more tuned into James’ communication and when she spotted something, no matter how small, that she hadn’t seen James do before, she celebrated with him. This gave them both a confidence boost and James became more willing to communicate as he was getting positive feedback,
So by addressing Dianne’s own feelings and ways to overcome the way she looked at James’ communication, even without doing anything directly with James, he began to make progress as a result.