If you look in the mirror and ask yourself, “I don’t like what I am doing, but why do I keep doing it anyway?” you are likely walking along a personal path to self-awareness. Increasing your self-awareness is an essential ingredient to building your child’s positive behaviors that can be achieved by following my RAE of Sunshine approach:
Reflect on who you are
Analyze the situation
Engage with your child
Sunshine is a feeling, well beyond a star in the sky
Reflect. Knowing your strengths, talents, abilities, and areas that need improvement are achievable by maximizing your time with the activities that bring you the most joy. You can incorporate your less-desirable areas into your positive-fueled routines by replacing unwanted behavior with alternatives i.e., instead of allowing negative energy to manifest, you can channel the energy into deep breathing techniques. A daily dose of introspection is a great practice to further understand your limits and preferences, and this can be done through mindfulness activities such as journal writing, meditation, and yoga.
Analyze. Check-in with your own emotions and mood. Determine if you are hungry, and if you are, get a snack before engaging with your child. If you are in an elated mood, try to come down a few levels; if your child is exhibiting challenging behaviors, displaying anger towards your child for destroying your good mood will diminish. If you find yourself in a bad mood, you will want to practice self-regulation to self-soothe. Learn, practice, and master self-regulation techniques including taking deep breaths, managing your emotions, not taking your child’s behaviors personally, and achieving high levels of self-awareness.
Engage. An effective approach to diffusing your child’s behavior is to stand or sit slightly next to your child, as opposed to face-to-face with your child. Being slightly next to your child sends them the signal that you are supporting them as opposed to confronting them. Your body should be open to your child by relaxing your shoulders and your jaw to maximize this effort. Support your child in feeling comforted by you, as opposed to feeling threatened by you.
Sunshine. Choosing to practice positive behavior supports and patience while your child demonstrates challenging behaviors takes a significant amount of energy. The other option is to allow yourself to be consumed with negativity. Utilizing your strengths to promote a positive and emotionally healthy situation with your child will benefit both you and your child in the immediate moment while having a long-lasting nurturing impact.
Developing a strong sense of self-awareness is important when interacting with your child. You need to know how to:
Recognize your strengths, talents, abilities, and less than desirable areas
Self-regulate your emotions
Diffuse your child’s behaviors by exhibiting comforting body language
Including self-awareness practices into your daily routine will prepare you for endless positive engagements with your child.
Joshua Levy is the President of Joshua Levy Educational Consulting. Joshua works with parents, educators, and children’s museums who are seeking to strengthen their relationships with individuals with special needs. Joshua is also the Founder/Executive Director of Joshua’s Stage – an enrichment program for individuals with a wide range of special needs, featuring: after-school programs; camps; workshops, and individual enrichment programs in theatre arts, improv, arts and crafts, music, dance, photography, and create-a-story. Joshua’s innovative The Creative Outlet Method includes strategies for providing children with the opportunity to demonstrate their creativity, increase their self-confidence, and build their social skills. Joshua’s book, The Creative Outlet Method Book of Creativity: At-Home Activities for Children with Special Needs is a fabulous resource for parents, educators, and therapists. Contact Joshua at firstname.lastname@example.org.