How much help is too much?
This is a topic my clinicians asked that I talk about in our blogs and videos because it can be a very complicated question.
I find that people tend to go to extremes, doing either no help or total help. But really, there is a huge variation in the amount of help that needs to be happening.
We do need to be mindful that we need to be therapeutic in what we’re doing. Providing some degree of help might be helpful, but providing too much help might take away all the advantages of the activity you’re trying to do.
When You’re In a Hurry
We are mindful of the need families have to get from point A to point B, all while navigating the busyness of life. If I’ve got 5 minutes to get us ready for school and it’s been a rough morning, I’m throwing their shoes on them myself, or I’m zipping up their jacket for them, or brushing their teeth for them. We totally get that! Sometimes you have to give too much help because you have to get moving.
When You Have More Time
But I urge you to figure out those times during the week when you can control the time variable and make that activity more therapeutic. If we are teaching your child how to do something important, a functional activity like shoe tying, dressing, undressing, bathing, meal prep, etc.— make sure you designate times when you can actually practice the skills we’re teaching. If you don’t, you will find that when you don’t take the skill outside of our facility and generalize it at home, it will not be a learned skill. This means that in the clinic we will be repeating ourselves over and over, but not progressing to where we want to be.
Pay Attention To What Your Child Struggles With
I understand that Monday through Friday, you may just be too busy to make this happen. But maybe you could designate one weekend day as a quiet day, a day that you can sit there and wait until your kiddo gets his shoes tied, even if it takes 5 tries. And then if you do this, you will start to notice what specific things or steps your child struggles with and you can report that back to your therapist. Then we can isolate that one step and work on it more here.
Be mindful of the fact that when you practice these things, you are making it a therapeutic environment rather than an all or nothing environment.
Talk Your Child’s Therapist
And please, talk to your clinicians about the amount of help you should be providing! And about the things you are noticing about your kiddos. Your clinicians are great resources, and we love hearing from families about what great milestones have been reached at home, or what things are not happening at home. As clinicians, we are masterminds of activity analysis! We can break down an activity into so many steps you wouldn’t believe it! So please communicate with us, and then we can be that much more of therapeutic help for you!