A lot to learn, or re-learn
I used to get asked a lot why I'm so good with kids before I became a mother. The truth is, my medical training has prepared me in this regard. Young children have a lot of connections to make in their brains, much like my brain injury and stroke patients. These are my gems for interacting with both groups of people:
- Give positive commands
Instead of saying "don't step in that puddle," say "walk around that puddle, please." It's harder for the human mind to process negative statements.
- Prepare them for new situations
I've seen mothers become mortified when their kids run wild around a restaurant. This could be avoided, or at least minimized, if the children are given instruction as to what to expect and do when going out to eat. Remember that the developing mind handles new environments by comparing and contrasting to previous experiences. Thus if the dining booth looks like a fun hide-out or the row of chairs appears to be a jungle-gym, you know what follows. If, however, you talk about what's appropriate for dining out and even give a preview then the chance that you'll need to pry your child off the waiter will diminish.
- But don't explain too much.
Keep things developmentally appropriate or confusion/fear may develop about a situation. Example: "On the airplane they teach us how to be extra safe." -That's better than "pay attention to these instructions, you might need them in case of an emergency."
- Offer lots of encouragement
When the world doesn't seem like it's built for you, this can take its toll. Kind words to bolster up the spirit are necessary to get through life's challenges.
- Be patient, let them work it out
It's easy to fill in sentences or help with tasks when it takes longer for someone else to do this alone. Unfortunately, this only fosters dependence.
- Do it the same way every time
If you're teaching someone how to tie their shoes, do it one way each time you repeat a lesson. This is how the brain makes connections fastest.
- When reason fails and hysteria ensues, a dark padded room is best