Hello, I am here with Joshua Akinola and he is going to talk to us about behaviour. I’m really excited to hear about all the advice that he has to share. Joshua, how are you?
Yeah, good. Good. Thank you for having me. Really excited to have this conversation with you, actually.
I am really interested in hearing what you have to say, because your website looks really interesting. And I know you speak a lot about children that have special needs and a range of other needs. Some parents at the moment are at home, especially with lockdown.
Yeah, yeah, I think that’s such a good question, I think for me, especially working with the of kids which I’ve worked with, what I found useful is thinking about a model of development. I’m not going to get into it too much. Well, I guess the main focus of the model is really being aware of where your child is in their development and in that awareness, being able to be clear on the things which they can do and the things which they might need support to do. For me, one topic as a parent, is really being clear of where my child is in their developmental journey. They may be in the season of exploring, pushing boundaries or finding out who they are. I think for me, once we were able to really pinpoint where our young people are, that’s when I think we’ve been able to really make a difference.
You could build different activities in the day which really foster that need? For example, one of my children, is in a state of really wanting to explore and experiment. I know that throughout the day it is important for me to put in moments where maybe she can play with or touch things. I also know that if I don’t put that in, then that need to explore, and experiment is going to come out in possibly unhealthy ways. For example, touching the wrong thing or getting into my drawer. If I’m able to know where she is, then I can provide that need in a healthier way.
I think that’s really good advice, especially the fact that focusing on where the child is because children are so different. No child is the same as mother.
And how long did it take you to realize that? Because, I mean, there are parents that have maybe more than one child at home, so trying to understand different children and their different needs might be a bit of a challenge.
I think definitely for me, when I first became a parent, I had no clue. I was just, you know, figuring it out as we all are. And I think for me, what I found useful is I often sometimes just take a step back and just kind of watch what my kids are focused on or are drawn to naturally without me having to say anything. I think that’s one key thing where we talk about I think number two that I found is speaking to other parents. I found that really useful as a way to think about, OK, my son is doing this, and your son is doing that. I wonder what could be happening here. My son has loads of energy and I’m wanting to invigorate him.
When I first was a father, I didn’t really connect with as many parents very much. I just had to figure out on my own, which now I don’t. I can connect with like-minded people like yourself, connect with friends who have children. The last thing that comes to me is so many children will have a pretty good idea of what they need. I found that they are actually voicing their needs more often time I was ignoring it. For example, my son would be saying something quite clearly through his behaviour. It might be that he wants to move around or he wants quiet time. But there were times where I just wanted to ignore it because I had my agenda, which I wanted to almost push upon them, which would always backfire. After this, I would then get in in a state thinking, I don’t know why they behaved like this. In reality it is because I didn’t spend a couple of minutes just to watch, just to take in what they wanted to do.
I think that’s great advice, especially because managing behaviour is very challenging when you’re trying to really find that work life balance.
Wow, wow, wow, wow. You are taking me back now.
I think it was I can’t remember how many years ago, but there was just a moment definitely with my son, he’s the oldest, where I felt this is just so hard. I almost felt as though I was failing as a parent because I couldn’t respond adequately to his emotional needs. One key moment that I remember was my big brother who offered me some advice about raising him. I remember at that moment; my heart was hard towards him. I was like, no, leave me alone, I can do it. Afterwards, I started to think about people around me who are not thinking I’m terrible. They actually want to support me. I think the more I was able to become aware of that, the more I became aware of the resources which were already there.
You don’t can see different videos, I could watch all of these things, but in my heart I was shocked maybe because of my upbringing, I mean, a lot parents think we have to do it by ourselves and not include the community.
Whereas as far as the saying goes, you need a community to raise a child or something. For me, that’s what really allowed me to break out of the isolation mentality as a parent who really opened myself up to feedback and opened myself up to finding out ways to interact much.
I think that’s amazing, especially because a lot of parents, when they get an initial diagnosis of their child, feel so isolated. A lot of them kind of take it on themselves. So you hear things like, I don’t want to speak to anyone or I feel like I’m a bad parent if I reach out to other people.
If you had three top tips for supporting a child, what would they be?
Great. Oh, OK. so I guess when we’re working with young people I. Something useful is really having a clear structure and timetable. So for me a lot of young people I worked with, have an official timetable. Having it on Velcro so they could be involved in the timetable and a space in the day where they can choose something has really worked. For example, getting the child involved by saying here is the day, here’s what I’m thinking, what would you like to do, is a great way to involve the child.
2: Take it easy on yourself
I think, number two, don’t be so hard on yourself. You know, I mean, these are unprecedented times. None of us are really trained to say yes or no, you know, exactly what to do. So, there are going to be hiccups. I think the most important thing is to really have that self-love for yourself and know that you’re trying your best. And that’s what you can do, really.
3: Spend time observing your child
And then, I think my third tip is to really just spend some time watching your children, just watching what they do, and in those times of watching them, you can really become aware of what stage of life they’re in, This will help you as a parent identify where you may need to offer support. This time can bring awareness of actually, my child is quite adequate in this area. This would then lead you to think, I might need to change the level of support I give in this area because they are able to make good decisions here.
Thank you so much for this conversation. I think there is so much greatness that you can take from it, especially the information that you get from watching your child and not being too hard on yourself.
Thank you for having me. Thank you.
You can also see the video on Youtube here
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