Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Build On The Child's Strengths

In the world of "therapy", "doctors" and often times "education" the professionals notice what your child cannot do.  I know when my children went to their well visit appointments with their pediatrician, the focus was on height, weight, and overall development.  I also remember that feeling in the pit of my stomach when I had to say "no".  "No, my child does not have 350 words; no, my baby is not rolling both ways; no, my child is not potty trained".  Oh no, my child's height and weight are only in the 25%!!  Somehow you felt that you must be responsible and your child was a bit less because of these observations.

The key to working with a family and small children is to build on what the child CAN do.  It's so simple.  When you build on what a child can do, there is more success.  The child realizes that you understand them and want them to do more things that they are good at.  They are more motivated because they are starting with things they like.  And the family is excited because you are pointing out all the wonderful things their child can do and what great parents they are.  Everyone is quickly on the same page and excited about the next success the child has.

Parents know what their children are good at and what their children struggle with.  And it makes them sad and sometimes they feel guilty, like they haven't done enough when we notice only the things the child cannot do.  As professionals, we don't need to remind them about what their child cannot do.  Parents need to feel like they can make the difference with their child and by building on the child's strengths, everyone wins.

So if you are a parent, make sure the people that deal with your child see all the wonderful things your child can do and encourage them to work with those strengths. And if you are a professional, be aware of the things that are difficult for the child and family but remember to share all the wonderful things you see the child doing.  Also, take a minute and mention all the wonderful things that the parents are doing too. 

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