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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Explosive Child

I read and scribble in the margin of the “The Explosive Child.” Ordinarily written dialogue is helpful, but I find it hard to believe that any parent would speak to their child in such a manner. They all seem to get far too cross too soon. Either the average parent has very high expectations of their children, or maybe I have very low expectations of mine? Since I am generally in the minority, I conclude that the latter must be correct.

I am very much aware of the dual plank that parents need to tread: expect the most from your child and they will try and live up to your expectations, versus do not set unrealistic goals for your children or set the bar to high so that they do not experience continued failure. This particular plank beats me from both ends all too frequently.

What are often dual standards quickly become quadruple standards if you have a typical child in the mix, even if I ignore other family dynamics.

One simple example is as follows:- a parent calls from the kitchen to their child ‘turn off your game, wash your hands and come to the table for dinner.’ It’s an approximation not a quote. The child, for whatever reason[s], does not comply, an argument ensues and all is lost. It’s a very ordinary every day example of a situation that many parents experience often, but not me.

First of all this is a three step sequence, the parent asks the child to do three different things in succession, and we’re still working on two step sequences. The request is made verbally, their are no visual cues such as a schedule board, PECS or cards, to support the requests. Secondly, the parent speaks to the child from another room. Although I do this too, I know it doesn’t work. Thirdly, anything to do with the termination of electronics time, has a whole set of extra rules that must be applied sympathetically by the parent, or rather by me. Fourthly, washing hands is a 13 step sequence in and of itself! Fifthly, as with many families, the offer of food is not a positive incentive but an aggressive aversive and must be handled with due sensitivity.

A sensible person will ask ‘well why are you reading it then dimwit!’ or ‘have you changed their diagnosis without telling me?’ Well I’m reading it because it was recommended by someone I trust, and although their labels remain the same, there is such a huge overlap with other labels that it never hurts to widen the net and pick up a few tips from elsewhere. Does this mean that the book is useless? On the contrary I know I still have a great deal to learn. I am sure that this recommendation to me will prove useful in many respects. However, it does make me realize how far we are off the beaten track.

Maybe we need to take up hiking?

Perish the thought!

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