We spent a bit of time looking closely at patterns this last week. B took some close up photos with a macro lens, and T did some beautiful drawings. Both have a real eye for detail and delight in the intricacy they see.
Spots, stripes, random, repeating, colourful, surprising, soft, shiny, connecting, smooth, cold, rough, organic, spiral… God has an eye for detail too!
We see patterns all around us in the world God made.
We also love to make patterns. We categorize, collect, line up, lay out, create, design.
I also see patterns in our reactions, our thoughts and our behaviour… some great ones, and some that make life pretty hard going! It can be useful sometimes to sit and take notice of them, and really look at them for what they are. To recognise what happens just before a reaction or behaviour, can sometimes reveal a repeating pattern indicating perhaps a sensory difficulty that triggers a certain response, or an emotion that triggers a repeating pattern of thought that then itself triggers a repeating pattern of behaviour.
Really looking at the patterns can help as a parent wondering what the most helpful response to my children’s more difficult behaviour would be. Sometimes prevention or finding a way of minimizing the impact of the initial trigger is far more helpful than simply continuing to trouble shooting the resulting behaviour!
When I was led through a course of CBT, I was shown how to record my own behaviour patterns or emotional responses using ‘A,B,C’ as my reminder: A for antecedent (just before), B for behaviour/response, C for consequence. Having somewhere to jot down the ‘ABC’ of a repeating behaviour that is proving difficult in family life can be really helpful. When you get that tiny, miraculous moment where you can pause for a second or two & think straight it’s all there for you to pick up & look through to see the patterns.
Of course you still have to then decide what your intended response will be (and of course recognise your own knee jerk response and make a decision that perhaps that’s not most helpful), a response that will nurture and praise the behaviour you want to see again and distract & deter away from behaviours you would love to say goodbye to!!
We employ a real mix of distraction, the ‘1,2,3 magic’ system of time out & consequence (very different from Webster Stratton time out which is the one we come across most often), and inviting incentives for the behaviour we want to see more of… with a real mix of successes & slow progress, ‘1 steps forward 10 back’ moments, and lots of opportunities for praise. At the moment our latest inviting incentive as some will have noticed on instagram is collecting marbles for gentle kind speaking… 26 so far! Yesterday T was off school, and she commented to me as we chose another treasured marble for her jar (a plastic fruit juice bottle decorated by her with sharpies) that I should have one too – she wondered how long it would take me to get 26… maybe she’s been noticing patterns!! (There was definitely an ‘A,B,C’ going on for me having T grouchy, off school & having not slept at all well!)