Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Power of Nothing

Lifted this from Penny at   Thanks, Penny!
When I meet with families, I will tell them that sometimes, it LOOKS like I'm doing "nothing".  This explains why better than anything I can tell them.


Nothing works!
We hear this frequently from parents and professionals .
“No matter what I do, my child won’t:
play with me --- respond or initiate --- imitate actions or sounds
do anything new or creative ---- make different sounds
talk with me---stop irritating me --- behave well --- show me what he knows.

After many years of careful observing, we find that adults frequently
Make the decisions without seeing what the child wants.:
Do not give the child enough time to interact.
Do things for the child that he can do himself.
Do not give the child enough time to respond.
Do much more than the child without waiting.
Do not learn what the child can and wants to do.
Interrupt and talk for the child.
Try to get the child to respond in specific ways.

In our work with hundreds of families , we find that
Nothing often does work
We find that the less an adult does the more a child will do.
When we define Nothing as silence, waiting, giving the child time
and simply observing the child carefully,
Then we find that Nothing really works to---
Help the child interact more
Encourage him to both initiate and respond more.
Give him time to prepare a response.
Allow the child to be creative.
Make him more spontaneous.
Show you are interested in what he can do.
Allow him freedom to be himself.
Help you be a real partner
How can you make nothing work for you?
Wait silently for the child to start an interaction
Respond briefly, then wait again.
Wait with a look of anticipation .
Do one thing then wait for your child to take a turn.
Play in a back and forth way, each doing about the same amount -.
Wait when you think he can do more.
Discover that the more you wait, the more he surprises you with what he knows.
The more you wait , the more you learn what really motivates the child.
Consequently, doing “nothing” helps you know your child more.
Play sometimes without talking unless he does.
Learn that he needs time to figure out what to do.
Expect and enjoy the surprises you get as you wait.
Realize that you do not have to do it all; he needs to do half.
Realize that your child learns by doing, so give him time to do.
Learn that his own response will tell you more about him than responding to what you want.

Copyright James D. Mac Donald 2010

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