I am all about exposing Nick to different experiences, yet am extremely mindful of my approach. I want to build onto his feelings of competence and thus encourage him to be open to new challenges.
It doesn't matter to me if our interactions only last for a couple of minutes (or even a few seconds). All those tiny increments of time add up and are extremely beneficial.
I find 'pausing' to be a very powerful tool. The space allows Nick the time to process information and respond should he wish to. Here are few examples from yesterday interactions;
* Walking into the grocery store and standing by the trolley bay. I paused and waited. After a few seconds Nick collected a trolley and began to push it.
* Standing by the fruit and making declarative comments. 'We need a pineapple'. 'I wonder what apples Nick would like, hmmmm, red, yellow or green?'. After each comment I paused and waited. Nick thought about the comment and responded. At times he needed some extra scaffolding, however, he found the items needed.
* Leaving the mall, Nick pushing the trolley. I hold up the parking ticket and wave it around. Nick notices and immediately changes direction and we go to the information counter so that we can get the ticket validated.
* In the car park, I place the parking ticket into the machine. When the ticket pops out, I pause and wait. Within seconds Nick collects the ticket and gives it to me.
* I pretend that I can't open the car boot. I pause and wait. Nick has seen me struggling and he uses that pause to come to my aid.
* When we arrive home, I make a declarative comment about taking the groceries inside. Nick gets out of the car and goes to the car boot. I pause. He opens the boot.
* Nick is sitting on the couch with his iPad. I sit down next to him and make the comment, 'I am making cookies and need to get the ingredients out of the cupboard'. As I walk towards the cupboard, Nick gets up and comes to assist. We seamlessly start up a little pattern of passing items to be put on the countertop.
* Nick has disappeared into another room. I have started measuring out the ingredients for the cookies. I call out, 'I need some help measuring the flour'. I carry on with what I am doing and after a minute or so, Nick comes to join me.
We have many daily moments like the above, where I deliberately pause in order to invite Nick to play a role. For sure, it would be easier to give him instructions, however, I want him to 'think, process and respond'. My wish is for him to partner with me because he wants do, not because he has been told to.
"Today, I am talking about the importance of partnering with your child. For some parents, it may come naturally, for others, it may feel challenging at first. I encourage you to partner with your child at least 10 times per day, everyday. It will get easier and you can start out small and always build on your successes in length of time you are partnering or ways in which you partner." Barbara Avilia