Advice

The Child Expert’s Secret

Peeking throughYou are a parent who is also a teacher, child psychologist, pediatric social worker, therapist, or other type of pediatric expert.

You’ve studied, trained and have done successful work with children.

You know your techniques are finely honed, and you believe you have the know-how to teach and reach children.

But you might have an uncomfortable secret:

What you do so successfully with other people’s children isn’t effective with your own child.

When educators, child therapists, and pediatric experts bring their child to Thrive OT, it is often because nothing they are doing seems to “work.” Bringing their child to a pediatric behavioral specialist who is an occupational therapist might even be their last resort. 

I often find that what’s going on with these deeply-involved and loving parents, is that their child’s system isn’t yet primed and ready to benefit from the intervention they are trying to use. Because pediatric specialists have been taught time-tables about what normal development looks like, it can be really uncomfortable to let go of these beliefs when working with their own child.

There may be other reasons, too. People who work in the pediatric fields tend to care deeply about children and are very emotionally invested in their work. This may lead to extremely intense feelings when parenting their own child.

Also, they may feel judged on so many levels. They may feel that if their child doesn’t “measure up”, then they are failures as both parents and professionals. 

All this can lead them to focus too intensively on their child, or, in some cases, “give up.” 

In The Parent-Child Dance, I write about this common issue:

If you fall into this category, don’t give up on all the valuable skills you’ve learned. You may have tried a specific technique a year ago with your child, and he may not have been ready for it. It may be time to re-evaluate your child’s readiness and try again. Once your child’s nervous system becomes more regulated, through the implementation of a personalized treatment plan including occupational therapy, you may find all those marvelous techniques, which work with other children, work with your child, too.

Remember that the healing process is your personalized opportunity for insight, growth, and connection. Just as the ultimate goal of life isn’t perfection but the process, the goal of parenting is the process. It’s not about becoming the perfect parent. The process includes the struggles and the successes—these both are necessary to enrich our character and understanding.

Developing patience is one of the greatest gifts you can give to yourself as a parent. It’s also one of the greatest gifts you can give to your child. It is heartbreaking to see a child in therapy begin to make progress, but not meet the parents’ personal timetable for progress. What some feel should take days or weeks might need months, or even years.

Remember: There are often solutions, but your child has to be ready for them. — The Parent-Child Dance: A Guide to Help You Understand And Shape Your Child’s Behavior

Every single parent has hopes and dreams for their child, and I believe that hopes and dreams are an important part of being a loving parent. Allow your child’s own pace to guide you, and the hopes and dreams may come true, in their own time.

P.S. Exciting News! The Parent-Child Dance is now available on Kindle for only $5.99.

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