Here are some examples on how Ananya's parents gave directions:
When starting any activity, the directions were very clear in their expectations.
- “Today these are your two choices. Which one do you want to start first? Remember we can do the second activity only after the first one is completed.”
- Giving two choices gave her control over the routine without being overwhelmed.
- Reminding her beforehand that she had to finish one before moving on to the next prepared her what she had to do.
- If she tried to negotiate for something completely different (and the parents didn’t want to do that activity) then they were asked to address it and say, “Sorry, you have to choose between these two. That is not a choice,” instead of “No! We can’t do that now.”
- If Ananya got upset, they just had to wait her out.
The directions also addressed time constraints.
- “You have 15 minutes to finish your art project. I’m going to set the kitchen timer for 15 minutes. When it goes off, it will be time to stop and clean up.”
- When the timer sounded, they said, "It is time to stop and clean up. Go put your project to dry first." The specific step (putting the project to dry) gave her a starting point for the clean up.
- If she didn’t stop and clean up, her parents had to remind her once and ask, “Would you like me to help you clean up?” or “You can start cleaning up yourself or I’ll have to help you clean up. Which one would you rather do?”
When Ananya wanted to negotiate for longer play time or a different activity, it was up to the parents’ discretion—but always followed by possible consequences.
- “If we don’t leave the playground now, we won’t have time to make the special treat at home. Is that ok with you? Remember you are making this choice. Even if you are sad later we can’t work o the treat.”
When Ananya got upset, parents were asked to validate her feelings. Some situations can’t be changed and the child has to understand that. At the same time there doesn’t have to be a long drawn out explanation or apology.
- “I know you are angry because we can’t stay longer. But we have to go to…it is not a choice.”
Other instances provided opportunities to learn coping skills.
- “I know you are disappointed because you couldn’t play with XYZ. He has a doctor’s appointment...maybe we can call and make a play date for another day instead?”
- Ending the sentence with an alternate plan reiterates that something can be done about the situation.