Saturday, January 18, 2003

Accentuate the positive

After a lengthy foray into more general non-fiction, I'm back to reading parenting books. I'm galloping through "Transforming the Difficult Child: The Nurtured Heart Approach" by Howard Glasser and Jennifer Easley, because my difficult child could certainly use some transforming right now. I don't know that I buy all of the authors' assumptions, but the basic approach is right on, at least for my fetal-alcohol-affected boy: Give all your energy and big reactions to your child when he's doing something right, not something wrong. The book suggests following the pattern of a video game, in which all the rewards and successful experiences come with following the rules, and breaking the rules leads to a quick, unemotional, unarguable ending to the fun. The recommended method ends with a fairly involved system of credits and privileges, but starts with the simple act of noticing and commenting on the things kids do when they're not misbehaving. It's not so much a matter of catching them being good, but creating spontaneous opportunities for them to be good when none would have existed, and recognizing their acheivement. Or even just describing, in a neutral way, what you see them doing, so they know they're seen and appreciated. It sounds so simple it just might not work, but I have to admit, in the couple of days I've been trying this, my son does seem more relaxed and cooperative, and I certainly enjoy him a whole lot more. Maybe there's a little mind control to it on both sides.

I also picked up a copy of "The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun: Activities for Kids with Sensory Integration Dysfunction" by Carol Stock Kranowitz last time I was in the bookstore, mostly because I was so thrilled to see it prominently displayed. It looks to be a skimming book as opposed to a reading-cover-to-cover book, but I'll be checking it regularly for play and therapy ideas for my son. I was particularly interested to see that many of the ideas utilized plastic grocery store bags, of which my son has approximately 100 in his room at any one time (alright, it's a weird thing to collect, but hey, they're free), so we won't have to be buying any equipment.

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