We brainstormed an outdoor activity they can do together that is part of Steve's weekend routine. We settled on Pamela donning a swimsuit and helping him wash the cars (I think it is a winner because Pamela asked what we were doing tomorrow; when I told her about the swimsuit and car wash plan, her entire face lit up with excitement). The neat thing about washing cars is that it is ripe for interaction patterns: simultaneously wash up and down or side to side, alternate I spray and you spray, etc. To focus on avoiding the dreaded QPC (questions, prompts, commands) monster, he thought of the perfect phrase for himself, "Give her time!"
Learning to change your communication style is a mental game! You have to think about what you plan to do in advance! Our strategy is:
- Watch an E-Learning module (only available through consultants) on guided participation.
- Figure out a competent role for Steve and a competent role for Pamela that is collaborative, not one person bossing around the other the entire time.
- Watch some interaction pattern clips so he can see three types (assembly line, reciprocating, and simultaneous) and their variations.
- Figure out the interaction patterns he can fall back on when unsure how to proceed.
- Be mindful of having pregnant pauses and hopeful expectant looks while waiting for her to respond.
- If Pamela started talking from another room, I ignored her until she walked into the room and established face-to-face with me.
- If I was in the middle of something (reading a book while sitting on the couch), I did not look up unless she tapped me on the shoulder.
- If I was in front of the computer or sink, I scaffolded her by taking a few steps back to give her maneuvering room. At first, I gently guided her with my arm until she had face-to-face contact.
- Occasionally, I turn away from her before the conversation and wait for her to orient in my direction.
Since Steve's schedule is so busy (major business meeting next week), I asked David to film Pamela and I shopping, which has scope for lots of face-to-face connection, disconnection, and reconnection. Being the easily embarrassed teen, he was less than thrilled. I thought providing him a better understanding might encourage him to step up. Our consultant told me yesterday that nobody in the RDI world has broken down receptive listening like we have. We are pioneering this aspect of this objective for others down the road. Because Pamela is so comfortable with gestures, we find it worthwhile to linger here for the moment to give her a wider range of communication. I told David that what he films will end up in the RDI computer system and these films will help other parents doing this same objective with their children down the road. To make an impression on David, I told him parents all over the world, in places like Singapore and Australia, are using RDI.
The shared understanding tactic worked! David's eyes widened when he realized the scope of what we do on a daily basis around here. He told me, "Okay, Mom! You've inspired me!"