“Joining” is not only an attitudinal fundamental of The Son-Rise Program®, but also a core technique we can apply with our children. When we join our children’s isms (stims) alongside them, we are visibly practicing our love and acceptance of them, and creating a stronger bond with them.
Recently I was reflecting on how many thousands of hours I have spent joining children in their isms. Then I started thinking about all the other Son-Rise Program Teachers and Child Facilitators past and present who have spent many more thousands of hours joining children in their isms. Amongst us, over the years…..we have literally spent millions of hours joining! We have joined with great love. We have joined with sincerity. We have joined with acceptance, with joy and with fun. We have also joined with great faith that the joining was helpful, useful and transformative for both ourselves and our children. The isms our children have are countless, and the details, and nuances, and styles of isms are fascinating, exciting, and relaxing.
This article is going to walk you through ways to join your child that will help you to maintain your comfort, and ability to be present and inspired as you continue (or begin) this journey with your child.
First, let’s have a refresher on what an ism is:
It’s repetitious, it’s exclusive, and it’s self-stimulating. All of our children have them in some form or other. Some have one or two isms, others have hundreds. So they do it over and over again, they do it to themselves (it’s an audience of one), and they are getting something out of it. It’s not necessarily what they are doing, but how they are doing it. Some children might be doing something that looks like typical play – looking through a book, playing with dolls, throwing a ball, etc. But try taking a closer look. If it’s an ism, you will notice they are not responding to you and they appear to be in their own world.
How is joining relevant to you?
Joining your child’s ism with them is the doorway into their world. By sharing a common bond with them and wanting to get to know them in this way, you are teaching them so much about how relationships work. For thousands of years we have been connecting and relating to other people through a common interest. If you want to deepen your relationship with your child, sincerely join them in their world. Not only will this give you a way to be with them when they are not available to learn, but it’s a gift for you to be able to practice your love for and acceptance of your child, and to learn more about them in the process. For example, when you truly join them, you will notice little motivations they have and certain sensations they are seeking, which will help you to know them and understand them better.
How is joining relevant to your child?
They are doing their ism because it feels safe and predictable to them in a world that is out of control. There are ways that the ism is curative and soothing to them, so it matters to them too. Also, they seem to enjoy it. What a lovely message to be sending them: that we love them and trust them to take care of themselves. That we want to get to know them and we want to do it on their terms. This is the basis of them stepping out of their world and seeing what our world has to offer, so it is time that is well spent, and extremely important and productive.
Focus on deeply loving them.
The first thing you want to focus on when joining your child is growing your love for them. This can be done by what you tell yourself and the feelings you give yourself while you are joining. When we send ourselves positive messages and fill ourselves with good feelings, it’s impossible not to sink into this perspective, and we more easily choose happiness. Each time you do this repetitious activity with them, imagine you are giving your child a large piece of your love and investing it into your relationship together. Bring a smile to your face and keep it real. Actually enjoy their activity, and see it as a way to be close to them.
Keep it interesting.
Once you have a good foundation of feeling really loving and relaxed in the joining, start to find some ways to make it interesting for yourself. Notice the sensory experience, how it feels in your body or how your voice sounds if you are joining them verbally. For example, if they are circuiting around the room, see if there is a pattern they have as they circuit. If they are rolling on a therapy ball, notice the sensations in your body. If they are scripting a particular story, see if you can make out the context of the story or try to match their exact tone of voice as you say the same words. Challenge yourself, have fun!
Show the 3 E’s!
Put some passion and energy in to your joining. When we physically animate ourselves more than usual it gives us a little shot of energy. Put a pep in your step as you walk around the room singing those lines to your child’s favorite song. This can be done even if your child is lying on the floor staring off. Remain passionate in yourself as a way to keep yourself awake and alive. Let your face smile and enjoy it, show a sparkle in your eye for your child’s passion. This will make all the difference and help you to sustain the joining.