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Mary Lou SLP  
#1 Posted : Friday, April 18, 2014 5:24:34 PM(UTC)
Mary Lou SLP

Rank: Advanced Member

Joined: 1/21/2008(UTC)
Posts: 903
Location: Colorado

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I wrote this article today and thought you might like to see it. I work with a mother who gets frustrated by how hard it is for her to stay calm at home, and she feels she punishes and tells her child what to do all day long. This vacation analogy came to my mind today. Since we can relate to this as adults, I thought it might help parents realize how important the concepts are for children every day.

Picture this. You are on a vacation. You love waking up feeling refreshed and happy, eagerly looking forward to all of the new things you will experience each day. Today, you are going to visit a special place, and you will have a tour guide to add to the experience.

The travel company you are with has two different tour guides. You don’t get to choose your guide, so you hope you get one you enjoy. You overheard two of the guides yesterday when they returned with their groups. This is what you heard:

Tour guide A: “Wow! That was quite an experience today seeing five different tropical birds! We were especially fortunate, because most groups only see one. The male with the dark blue, ruffled collar is quite rare. I hope your photos will all turn out! You all look a little worn out from our journey--let’s go inside to get a cold drink. While we take that break, I’d enjoy seeing what’s on your cameras. Before we go in, please double-check that you got all of your personal belongings off of the bus.”

Tour guide B: “The tour is over. Get your belongings off of the bus right now. I don’t want to find anything later and have to return it to you. No, don’t go inside yet—you need to fill out this survey first. Stop talking, please—I can’t tell you everything if you are talking, okay? Can you put down on the form that you would go on another tour with this company?

These examples suggest that the “A” in tour guide A’s name stands for amiable and appreciative, and the “B” in tour guide B’s name stands for bossy and boring.

Would you rather have a tour guide who is knowledgeable, kind, engaging, and tuned into your needs or one who tells you what to do, doesn’t spend much time giving you new information to think about, and doesn’t much care about your needs?

I think you may know where I am going with this. If you think about each day through the eyes of a young child, each day may seem like a vacation day feels to an adult. Children are “open books”, ready to play and interact and absorb new experiences and new words. Children wake up eager for a fresh start each day.

A child’s parent or other caregiver truly is a “tour guide” upon whom the child depends for information, support, and guidance. Each day’s “journey” is enhanced by positive experiences and talk, new sensations and information, effective transitions and redirection. Conversely, a day’s “travels” are diminished by bossy “business talk” rather than speech that explains and teaches. A day is spoiled by immediate changes without warnings, punishment rather than positive redirection, and routines conducted without pleasure.

Any adult can engage with a child as a positive guide through the daily events of life. If you recognize in yourself that you are more like guide “B” than guide “A”, you really can gain the skills to switch to an “A” mode if you want to. Your child is counting on you to be the best guide you can be. Taking the “scenic route” through life does not cost more money than taking the boring highway. It might take a little more time, because it is slower, and there are frequent stops along the way, but it is so worth it when you get to your desired destination—when your child has become a confident, aware, prepared, independent young adult.

Bon voyage!

Mary Lou
Mary Lou B. Johnson, M.S.,CCC-SLP

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