This is a tough request. This request is not for our kiddos but for ourselves as parents/caregivers. Having a child or children who require extra......extra time, extra attention, extra support, extra understanding, extra movement and so on can lead us as the parent/caregiver to be constantly on. We feel like we are always trying to meet their needs, which is what we are taught to do right?
When a baby is crying and nothing seems to help them comfort, we keep changing the thing that we are doing to try to make them stop crying. We hold them against our chest, we face them outward, we bounce them, we rock them, we hum in their ear, we sing, we lie them down, we put them in a bouncy seat or swing, the list goes on. The problem is that often times we are not giving their bodies and brains time to register or regulate the calming strategies that we are trying. We don't give them enough time to show that something we are doing might be working.
The same is true for our kiddos of almost any age. We are so busy providing all the supports that we forget to give them time to elicit an adaptive response. What is an adaptive response? It's a response to the action or intervention that has been initiated. The time that it takes for someone to show an adaptive response varies from person to person and the cirumstances of the event or activity.
When my oldest son was young, he had BIG emotions. They were big enough for me to go to a counselor. I vividly remember walking into church and telling another mom/friend that he had brought me to my knees. I was at a loss, so off to our counselor I went. The counselor gave me a strategy: When he is crying and experience BIG emotions, hold him and /or hug him until he let's go. Okay, you guys, this was brutal. I did and do see myself as a pretty nurturing person, but when I first tried this strategy, waiting for his adaptive response, waiting for him to release me, felt ridiculous. But here's the thing, IT WORKED! He needed me to help him regulate and it wasn't in my time, but in his. He was able to calm and regulate and tranistion back to the day. Over time the length of the hug grew shorter and he was able to calm much quicker. Let me be clear, there have been moments along the way, where the long hugs have made a reappearance and they were totally valid and I am thankful that I knew to just be still.
I am much better at this as a therapist. Waiting for the adaptive response in occupational therapy is how we know if the interventions we are trying are working. The same is true for you at home. If you're providing activities to help support your kiddo(s), remember to watch for the adaptive response. Remember to wait. Remember to be still.