Connect – Co-regulate – Communicate – Continue

TLDR: Most of these methods boil down to what I’m calling the 4Cs.

Use the 4Cs:
C1: Connect (you need to connect before you can co-regulate – observe and acknowledge their experience)
C2: Co-regulate (you need to be able to self-regulate before you can help your child co-regulate)
C3: Communicate (all behavior is communicating something, can you listen to understand what?)
C4: Continue (session, progress, working towards goals, practicing, living your lives etc.)

to counter the 3Es:
E1: Emotions (if you skip connecting – the emotions can overwhelm them)
E2: Expectations (if they aren’t meeting expectations, then the expectations are too high, what skill is missing or what communication is being missed?)
E3: Escalations (if you pile more expectations on without connecting and co-regulating, it can escalate into a full meltdown)

I can’t find the article, but when kiddo was biting more, I remember reading that you can’t tell a child not to bite when they are flooded (Gottman term for their amygdala being in charge – fight, flight or freeze modes, lizard/animal/primitive brain), and just telling them not to bite when they are calm doesn’t work – they can’t remember in the heat of the moment. You have to role play appropriate responses. Like training for martial arts so that when you are in fight/flight/freeze your automatic reflexes take over. This is why pretend play is SO important and needs to be taught if they don’t do it naturally.

We have a policy that once we’re all calm we first figure out the why (Dale Carnegie – don’t tell someone they are wrong, just keep asking why until one of you figures things out). Once we’ve figured out what the problem was, we help the kiddo roleplay a healthier/more adaptive method at least 3 times so that those neural pathways are reinforced more than the maladaptive ones that were defaulted to. And for really big things like physical agression (hitting or biting) we do at least 5 – and include variations and provide scripts. Basically we’re acting out the possibilities like the “What Would Danny Do?” (there is a Darla one out now too) books, but using our situations. We also tell (and keep meaning to write up) “choose your own adventure” versions – the first is what actually happened and why, and then we come up with two or three more other options and results.

I also try to provide scripts. Kid: “Water!” Me: “Kid could say – I’m thirsty, I want water please.” Often kid repeats it verbatim – echolalia is functional! Me: “Of course! I’ll get you some, thanks for asking so nicely!” And oh boy did those big positive responses feel REALLY weird and awkward at first.

Also, everyone should try to learn ASL, but that’s for another post.