It's not about the carrot!

Not so long ago I was asked if RDI was all about teaching my child to do chores! Was I training my child self help skills. 

Ummm, no!

It may *look* like I am training my boy to be a fabulous cook who cleans up after himself; and of course these are great skills to have. However, what I am actually doing is choosing activities in which to engage with Nick. Each activity is a prop that provides opportunities for me to guide him from a developmental perspective. The by product is that he also gets to learn something new!!

* Note:  Nick does not *play*, therefore the use of chores works for us at this current time. Nick also seems to be really interested in cooking so I like to encourage this interest.

When planning an engagement, I take into account the following steps;

What are our roles?
How can I guide Nick to ensure that he is operating on a conscious level?
What style of language is needed to encourage *thinking for himself*?
What is his level of competence?
What is the next step that will take him just beyond that level of competence?

For interest sake I thought I would share three *very short* video clips.....

For my planned engagement I decided to focus on peeling a vegetable. Due to Nick's motor planning issues this is very difficult for him! However, remember *it's not about the carrot!*

I decided that I would peel a carrot and talk about what I was doing. I would also take it slow and give Nick the chance to absorb what was happening. His role was to take a turn peeling the carrot... and sure enough he realised what he needed to do. Please note that Nick was very relaxed and he only needed a little bit of scaffolding with how to hold the peeler. After he had successfully peeled one piece, I made sure to spotlight what he had done and then we stopped.

Why did I stop? I could see that Nick was comfortable with the challenge that was presented, therefore I decided to add another little challenge. Dr Gutstein calls this "edge plus one", which means that you take the child to the edge of his competence and then you take him one more step.

In the second clip I am still using a carrot, although this time I decided that we were going to *cut* the carrot. I wanted to give Nick the opportunity to think for himself, so I think out loud "what can I use to cut?". I purposely don't want to tell Nick what to do and I certainly don't want to tell him that he has chosen the wrong utensil. With a few declarative comments he realises that the scissors are not going to work and he indicates that the scissors are for cutting hair! I then thought it best to add in a bit of scaffolding and offer up the knife! 

You will see that Nick recalls the previous pattern of peeling the carrot and he tries to do the same with the knife. I don't want him to become stressed over the fact that he is battling with the carrot, therefore I scaffold the situation and we cut the carrot together. When I decide to stop the activity, I make sure to spotlight that we "did it!".

Due to the fact that the carrot was too hard to cut, I decided to go back a step and bring in a cucumber, which will be easier to peel and then cut. This added a variation to our activity, although we were revisiting the now familiar peeling action. This is another *step* for Nick. You will see that Nick is very focused, although he is starting to speed up his actions. I sense that he has reached his edge of competence plus one; and if I want him to remember this engagement as a positive experience, then I need to finish up. I make sure to spotlight that he successfully peeled a piece of cucumber.

You will see in all three video clips that we both had our own roles to play and that Nick understood that he also contributes to the engagement. He trusts that I won't push him too far, therefore he is also a willing participant. I offered him opportunities to *think* for himself and also provided scaffolding where I thought necessary.

Nick watches me carefully and is very aware of coordinating his actions with my actions. At no point does he feel under pressure to perform. He is by my side because he wants to be with me.  We have lots of lovely co-regulatory patterns happening and we take our time, quietly and calmly, guiding and being guided.

I hope that this makes sense! I have a lot more information to share regarding the above video clips and our planned engagement, however, this post is getting far too long.

Just a wee reminder ~ it's not about the carrot!! ;)

Oh yes.... if you have any ideas for our next step, just toss them my way! 

Cheers! x


  1. I suppose I see RDI as about building a better relationship - and learning at the same time! That's what I'm hoping anyway: the relationship between Nick and you looks really good in these videos :)

  2. Quietly and Calmly, Guiding and being guided...powerful tribute to Nicks resilience now, and your hard work Di! <3 Cheers to the future!!!

  3. very nice activity and thank you for sharing. A big congratulation to see that Nick wants to be with you.

  4. I love the illustration of edge plus one and variation. :-)

  5. The scissors made me giggle and Nick showing they were for cutting his hair, too! He is doing really well!

  6. @Looking for Blue Sky ~ Yes, the relationship aspect is huge... and there is always learning, on both sides! :)

    @Lauren ~ Thank you.

    @Kathy ~ It blows me away how resilient Nick has become. That guiding relationship is firmly in place!!

    @ me Nem ~ Thank you for your lovely comment. It is so wonderful that Nick is happy to be with me.

    @ Walking ~ I have got *edge plus one* stuck in my brain!! As you saw, the scissors also made me laugh... I was thrilled that Nick indicated that they were for cutting hair!

  7. Brilliant !!!
    It is so not about the carrot
    Its about co regulation and connection

  8. Very beautiful. I love how engaged and attentive he was. He seemed like he was really thinking and dare i say wanted to please you? Inspiring

  9. @Mischal ~ I am glad that you think so! xx

    @Floortime Lite Mama ~ Yes, that's it! :)

    @Sophie ~ Thank you for lovely comment.

  10. This is AWESOME Di. Great post and videos and we might use this as a theme at our meeting tomorrow as it's so easy to forget sometimes what it IS all about!


    PS I need to/want to read more of your stuff. I get so overwhelmed online I forget about some of the blogs I enjoy and yours is definitely one of them.

  11. Thank you for your lovely comment, Gayle. I really appreciate you stopping by. I keep meaning to tell you.... The video clip of Kyle that was used for your Autism Oz article.. well, at the end of the clip, Kyle throws the shoebox into the larger box. That is exactly what Nick would have done! *Big smile*

  12. I watched this again... you work so beautifully with Nick. It was very inspiring and he works beautifully with you. So many nice things happening here. I am impressed with his focus! :-) And impressed with your slow mindfulness and how you created this engagement opportunity for him. Very inspiring!!

    1. Thanks, Gayle. I really have found RDI so beneficial and we both have learned so much.

  13. Hi Di, wonderful clips. Nick's choice of giving you his completely undivided attention is quite remarkable. It seems as though the guiding relationship is firmly in place. Congratulations on that. AJ is still a bit fleeting, but we did some laundry and carried boxes to the basement last night. Everything looks up.

    thanks, Jon

    1. Hi Jon, thanks for your comment. Yes, the guiding relationship is definitely in place! It has taken a long time to get to where we are today, however, I have to tell you... in the two years that I have been really focusing on RDI, Nick has not plateaued or regressed in any area (and this was quite common!). Thank you for sharing your journey with AJ on the platform, I have found it extremely beneficial.

  14. Hi Di,

    Wow - what a good relationship you and your boy have. RDI is definitely worth looking into - I want to do a bigger range of activities that Alexander finds enjoyable (Jumping on a trampoline for hours is rather tiring for mommy!) - while still teaching him. Thanks for the information!

    1. Hi, Karen G. Have just seen your message..... two years later! :)

  15. Hi I am a CIT, working and living in Singapore. Thank you for sharing. I learned a lot from these 3 short clips. I love the small minute steps you take to guiding your son.
    Thank you so much for the video.


    1. Hello, Yean. Thank you for taking the time to comment. I am pleased to hear that you found the video clips useful. I plan to start sharing some more clips in the near future.

  16. Hi Karen, my name is Jamie, I came across your blog on RDI Connect. What a beautiful co-regulation, and that moment in the first video when your son had trouble with the peeler and referenced you right away- magic! I'm now planning on doing a peeling and cutting activity with my son when he gets home later... Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. Hi Jamie, I am glad that you found the clip inspirational. Good luck with your activity. Di :)


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