By Kodey Toney
Things Get Worse
As promised, I will let you know a few things from the Autism Conference from last week that I felt were important and inspirational. One of these things is something that I think I really needed to hear from a man who is a national expert. His words of self-deprecation were actually words of encouragement for me.
The keynote speaker in the first day was a gentleman named Dr. Jed Baker. He is the director of the Social Skills Training Project, and a leading expert in social skills and managing challenging behaviors. With that list of expertise it came as a surprise when he admitted to something that I found refreshing as a father.
He said, "I've made the situation worse so many times."
I've done many speaking engagements lately and in all of them I've told the audience that I'm no expert. I'm just a dad who's trying to do the best I can to help my son and in turn help others. I make mistakes. I make the situation worse. I even yell, but I try to learn from my mistakes.
He said that there is no such thing as good or bad kids. There is only bad behavior that we need to confront. As I've mentioned so many times before, behavior is communication. How you handle that behavior is going to make a world of difference. You can make the situation worse by yelling, using frustrating verbal language and body language, or you can work to defuse the situation and use it as a lesson.
Our first instinct in many situations, at least it is for me, is to tell our children not to do things. We get frustrated with them over it, and make things worse.
What we should be doing, as Baker says, is checking our ego at the door.
"It's not about you," Baker said. He went in to explain that it's about what that child is trying to get across to you with his actions.
According to Baker we should listen to what they are saying or trying to say. We should agree with the conversation when it's warranted, and apologize when it's necessary.
This is really good advice, and only a small piece of what was taught, but I felt it was encouraging.