Last week we talked about how the “D”, the “I”, and the “R” interact with the Floortime session: namely, that we need to know where the child is Developmentally to begin, we need to know their sensory profile (Individual differences) to guide our interaction, and we need to make our Relationship a safe place for them to feel at ease.
Recall from last week that we want to expand the range of feelings a child can tolerate and to do that we have to accept the expression of their feelings. We do this by mirroring what they are feeling, empathizing with facial gestures, and being in the moment with them.
But often when our children are dysregulated they are overloaded and stressed, and this is very stressful for us, too, as caregivers. We want to make everything better and this often involves repressing the child’s experience to meet our own.
Our responses might be to say “you’re ok” or we’ll negotiate, we will give explanations, and we will basically try to rectify whatever it is we think is making him/her uncomfortable when what we really need to be doing is co-regulating.
She says that when you feel deeply loved and connected to people, you matter, so what we say and do as a parent to a distressed child bypasses the language centre, goes directly to the deep limbic system in the brain, and releases oxytocin.
Occupational therapist Maude LeRoux agrees. In her talk about moving from sensory processing to executive functioning, she explains that if our children cannot put their bodies in a place where they can be alert and aroused enough to learn, then they withdraw and we get a fight or flight response in the brain.
So the bottom line here is that when our children are dysregulated we need to do some important things:
- we need to stop all agendas we have
- show them with our body language that we are in the moment with them
- mirror what they are feeling with our facial expressions and gestures such as nodding
- use minimal words or vocalizations to let them know they are safe with us because we understand
The next step is bringing co-regulation into the Floortime session because as you are working up the developmental ladder, there will be many times where your child will fall back down to level 1 and need to co-regulate with you before you can resume.
Next week we will continue talking about Floortime techniques to help you connect and interact with your child to invite out his or her highest potential.