This family story was written by a veteran RDI parent. You can read the original here.
Give a boy a water pistol and he knows exactly what to do with it! Not so with my Nick.
First up is the anxiety of being introduced to a new game. Next is figuring out how to hold the pistol correctly and then adjust the finger pressure in order to squirt the water. Further motor planning is required to set up obstacles to shoot at; and then planning how to aim the pistol so that the water hits the target.
Not very easy for Nick, yet it is doable.
I set up a planned engagement for us to have some fun together. The objective was for Nick to discover how to do all of the above, with enough scaffolding to prevent him from becoming too anxious (edge plus 1). With a lot of guidance from me, we set up some plastic cups on top of a balustrade and then spent some time modeling and practicing how to hold the water pistol and pull the trigger. We then took turns to shoot the cups. To be honest with you, Nick didn’t really enjoy the experience, although by the time we had finished, he did share a couple of smiles. Note: I always ensure that we end on success and spotlight the important parts of our engagement.
The second time (a few days later), I invited Nick to join me in another ‘shoot the cup’ session. Nick immediately headed to the balustrade, therefore I knew that he had remembered our previous experience. Note: It was windy and I was very interested to see how Nick would cope with this variation. I passed Nick a plastic cup and he carefully positioned it on the rail. It sat there for five seconds and then blew off. He looked at me with a puzzled expression. I passed him another cup. It also blew away moments after he had placed it.
What happened next was so delightful and really highlighted to me the importance of ensuring that engagements should not be task driven. Nick laughed out loud and turned to me share the experience. He took another cup… and it blew off as he placed it. His laughter was contagious and I made sure to pause what was happening and spotlight to him what fun we were having. I then added a variation to our engagement by inviting Nick to help me collect the cups from the garden below. This was another edge plus 1 moment and he coped so well with the extra challenge. #werockflexibility
Perhaps I should have ended the engagement there, however, I felt that Nick could be stretched a little bit further, therefore I decided to move our game to the other side of our house where there was no wind. This caused him to show a bit of anxiety, yet when he saw that we were doing the same game, he quickly recovered. He also remembered how to hold and shoot with the water pistol. Yay. We had an absolute blast (pun not intended!) taking turns to shoot the cups…. and then the dogs! 🙂
I didn’t use a lot of language.
I made an occasional comment.
My comments were declarative/inviting.
I paused a lot to give Nick time to think for himself.
I scaffolded/guided when necessary.
I spotlighted moments that I thought were important for Nick to remember.