Improving Parent-Child Interaction with RDI

In clinical observations, no matter it is play, work or study, parent-child interaction often occurs in the following situations:

1) Parents over-relied on language as the medium of communication;

2) If the child did not respond immediately after receiving the instructions, the parent often corrected them right away;

3) The child did not enjoy the so-called “parent-child activities”, and felt more like escaping from this activity and eventually becoming a form of training.

Parents often attribute the "off the rails" interactions as "behavioural problems", so it is "reasonable" to move towards behaviour management, such as using candy rewards or giving behavioural consequences, to solve the so-called behavioural problems. But this will lead to children becoming more passive and resistant when communicating with people.

A boy named Wen-wen, aged 5 is on the autism spectrum. He is a smart and bright boy, often presented with repetitive behaviours during play, such as watching a high speed spinning wheel or watching a toy falling from height. Wen-wen often does not follow instructions at home and is reluctant to interact with his parents, but likes to run around in the living room; the high level of activity makes parents think that he also suffers from attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Mom then sought RDI consultation and guidance through a friend's referral.

I first invited the parents and Wen-wen to do some parent-child interactive activities, such as passing a toy ball, playing musical instruments together, etc. The interactions were videotaped for analysis. During the process, it was found that the mother's guidance was relatively nervous, requiring Wen-wen to follow her rules and instructions. Father, on the other hand, was more laissez-faire and did not give clear instructions, and as a result, Wen-wen wandered around and did not follow his guidance. It is observed that both parents had different ways of guiding. However, they both use language as their primary mode of communication and guidance.

After a period of practice and the supervision of the RDI Consultant, the parents have adjusted their own guiding methods: mother learns to slow down, reduces reliance on language, and instead uses gestures or eyes-gazes, and refocus on interaction with Wen-wen. Dad, on the other hand, pays more attention to the environment before guiding, preventing Wen-wen from being distracted from his environment. In addition, when interacting with Wen-wen, he gets physically closer to Wen-wen and reminds Wen-wen to participate in activities together. The most important thing is that the change in parenting style has reduced Wen-wen's resistance to interaction. Even if he walks away from time to time during the interaction, he returns to his parents. The interaction quality and time have both increased.

There is no greater benefit for children in developing a balanced interaction. Children can learn social skills from their parents, and later enjoy sharing and building relationships with others. This is a personal growth that parents are happy to see.

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