At the weekend I went to a wonderful family’s home to work with them and their indredible twin boys using The Son-Rise Program. While I was there, a question about repetitious games came up. One of their boys liked to take their hand and have them draw on flash cards over and over again. They were unsure of how to help him in this activity. Seeing as many of our children have repetitious activities similar to this, I’d love to share my response with you.
1) Is might be a stim: This depends on how rigid, or how open your child is. If they have little or no eye contact, a blank facial expression, are not responding to you when you try and vary the activity and are physically manipulating you in an intense way then they are being exclusive. Even though they are involving you, they are not including you in a connected way but using you more as a tool to get the repetition they crave. In this case, your role is to join them by being excited to be that tool and doing the activity in the exact way they want it, thus showing you are trustworthy and attractive to be with and building a relationship with them.
2) Control: Our children crave predictability in their lives, that’s why they have repetitious and exclusive behaviors. Our world is often unpredictable and over-stimulating for them so these predictable activities are of comfort to our children. The fact that they are involving us in an activity like this is great! They could be stimming in the corner on their own so feel grateful that you can be there for them in this way.
3) Wait until they are open: The more that you join your child and easily do this activity, the more open they will be to your ideas. When your child is more open (e.g. relaxing their intensity, leaving some space for you to add something, looking at you more, with a more connected facial expression or talking to you), this is the time to inspire growth.
4) How do I inspire growth?: Add something new! A way that we can help our children be more flexible and open to other’s ideas is to vary the game. Try drawing something totally different or making up a song about what you are drawing. Ask for eye contact! If your child is more open but not looking at you, playfully request that they look so that you can draw more for them. Work on language: Ask them to choose what to draw next by giving them chioces (e.g “Shall I draw a dinasoar of Daddy?”).
5) Celebrate! Help your child to feel successful, express your gratitude for choosing you to draw for them, if they say “No” when you try to challenge them, honor that and drop your challenge, every no, is going in the bank for a yes later.