Stop Negotiating the Non-Negotiables: Noticing Patterns for Understanding.
“No, what if we eat first, I just need to draw this first,…” (Joseph age 8)
As parents, Lena and Allie wanted their son to be heard and to have a place to be creative, empathetic and communicative. Every time, Joseph was told an expectation he had a response, a rebuttal, an antagonistic demand. And, so they listened, they exhaustively talked, and the expectation was delayed or even not ever completed.
It felt like Joseph only could do what he wanted and only engaged with a protest or negotiation.
In therapy, this example happens weekly with in many family dynamics. Parents wanting to be empathetic and peaceful and honoring of their child’s ideas while missing opportunities to set clear limits and support a child to know he/she/they are capable to do the unknown. To be flexible and follow another persons ideas just as they would their own.
So, we explored that negotiate comes from the word Necotium meaning (nec) “no” and (otium) meaning “free time.” And, I gave them permission to share discussions and topics during dinner, play time, and even in the car. But, to stop the negotiation, side tracking, and conversations when the words came at a time that an expectation, transition, or directive was given. I encouraged Joseph and his parents to notice the patterns.
I wasn’t saying Joseph’s ideas were not valid, real, or even brilliant at times, but the way he used his intellect indicated that he had found an adaptive response to dealing with his biggest challenge…Transitions (ie. non preferred and other directed requests).
In movement, we engaged in exploring timing. When Joseph was moving slowly in his preferred activities he was at ease, as soon as a directive was given his voice became quicker and more frantic. I practiced sequences and motor planning to engage his muscles to quicken rather than his words. To literally put words into action. We also explored direction. By giving him one step sequences and building up to more, he was able to carry out tasks easily and with clear intention. For instance, instead of negotiating to put his plate in the sink. His words were immediately stopped, “first, put your plate in the sink and then we can discuss your preference for meal time clean up.”
By embodying these feelings in movement, Joseph was able to adjust his timing for sharing ideas. Joseph’s parents finally felt relief and some space to move fluidly in their home. Now, they had time to get out the door, or eat a meal without relentless discussions and delays. And…Joseph’s parents communicated that he appeared more regulated, confident in his abilities, and even initiated more ideas to help around the house.
Everyday, I work with children of all ages and their families to support their communication styles, movement choices, and beautiful connections! During this Pandemic, therapeutic support and resources are available! For more ways to learn how to embody parenting and support your child through life, Email me at email@example.com