(Blurry or not this picture still puts a smile on my face)
After eating lunch in the kitchen, Cali ran upstairs to use the restroom. I stayed down with Ava to clean up. Shortly after Cali finishes using the bathroom, I begin to hear multiple frustrated cries and aggravated sounds coming from the top of the stairs. I walk with Ava to the bottom of the stairs and find Cali pulling on her undies while kicking out her legs, one after the other. I just stand there and wait. Finally, she makes eye contact and says, “Mom, help! My panties don’t know what to do!” While I was starting to get a bit irritated with the situation, I immediately turned to laughing once I heard this desparate, last effort plea. A kids perspective on life never fails to amuse!!
Some of you may be wondering why I allowed this frustration to continue on until she finally asked for help. Well let me explain…
For a very long time now, we have been working on a goal with Cali.
The goal: Cali will request help when frustrated.
Cali will sometimes ask for help but it is not consistent. She will only seek help when the motivation and interest are high. In the early stages of her therapy, she made zero requests for help and only frustrated cries. I had to prompt her time and time again to get her to learn that requesting for help would alleviate her frustration. Now the requests for help are hit and miss. Today, it was a miss.
Most of the time when a child is in distress and clearly needs help, an adult or someone capable will tend to their needs. And more than likely, would tend to their needs because along with their frustrated cries, they are also asking for help. Well, the cry for “help” never comes from Cali. Or at least in the beginning it never did. If I would have tended to Cali’s needs every time she got frustrated over not being able to complete a task, trying to grab something out of reach, or anything else requiring help, she would have never learned the need to ask. So this is what we did to teach her…
In the beginning, she was hardly verbal, so when the frustration began I would stop her, get her to make eye contact, and say, “Cali, can I help you? Yes or no?”
As time past, and she became more verbal, I would verbally prompt her to ask the question herself. I would wait for her to make eye contact, and immediately when she did I would say, “I need your help” or “Can you help me”. She would then repeat what I said. Not a second later and I was ready to help.
Currently Cali has progress to a point in which she will either independently ask for help or still get frustrated and need a reminder to ask. Sometimes making eye contact with me is all the reminder she needs. But if the scenario presents super high frustration, I will revert back to verbally prompting her to ask for help.
If your child is similar to Cali and needs work in this area, follow the steps we took. Here they are again:
1. Beginning stage (mostly non-verbal: never requests help): During frustration, wait for child to make eye contact. When eye contact is made, ask the question, “_____, can I help you? Yes or no?” When they respond, immediately provide the help. Don’t wait a second.
2. Middle stage (more verbal: requests help with verbal prompt): During frustration, wait for child to make eye contact. When eye contact is made, verbally prompt the child to say, “Can you help me” or “I need your help”. When they imitate what you have said, immediately provide the help.
3. Last stage (verbal: sometimes independently asking for help, sometimes needing assistance): During frustration, wait for child to make eye contact. Pause to allow child to request help independently, or use the verbal prompt, “Can you help me” or “I need your help”. When the child asks independently or imitates what you have said, immediately provide the help.
Another helpful tool
Hope this helps!