Recommended Guidelines with Children

1- "Do not take advice from your fears" (George S. Patton).

2- Do not do to a child what you would not like to be done to yourself.

3- Do not do to a suffering child what you would not dare to do to a healthy adult.

4- With a new child, make sure that ce knows that it is permitted to express ces feelings and needs to whoever preferred.

5- Try to evaluate first what the child wants even if ce is completely mute  by mean of a careful approach and by paying attention to non-verbal clues from ce : expression on ces face, physical position in relation with you, and always propose in such a way that the child can easily refuse and withdraw
if ce feels so : "How do you feel about...(doing something) ?"


6- Remember that especially at the beginning of a therapeutic relationship
the child may be able to take only very little human contact and thus you have to be patient.

7- Pay attention to what you as an assistant feel, do only things with which you feel comfortable, and never show a behavior that is not true to what you
feel. As a consequence, in return the child will do the same : this will clear many situations and the child will engage in the process of daring to be a real
person. Always provide support to the child to invite ce to act accordingly to
ces feelings to be at peace with ceself.

8- Remember that approaching a troubled child is the best exercise about   how to build the best relationships possible in general with anyone :  exercising patience, respect, care, openness, authenticity. But it is not easy,
especially at the beginning with a new child you don't know.

9- The steady basis for acting is what the child feels or what is on ces mind
at the moment : thus there is an ongoing need to know first what are ces feelings or thoughts for deciding what to do, especially if the child does not speak or cannot tell clearly what ce feels or what ces needs are.

10- Keep in touch with your feelings so that you can be better aware of 
what is happening in your relationship with the child.

11- Allow the child opportunities to give you something in return that will please you or to help you, so that your relationship can be a mutual experience for both the child and you in which "the child is not the passive recipient of services but someone who too can give significantly. More than anything else this provides the child with ces own human dignity and value" (B. Bettelheim).

12- Use Active Listening as defined by Thomas Gordon (please see the Books
page) and remain always attentive to refrain from blocking the child' talk. To
do nothing except listen is not so easy, especially if the child comes to the point of being very emotional : as a witness of ces sufferings you too could suffer and might be tempted to end the situation soon. On the contrary, you must encourage the child to vent repressed feelings as long as necessary : there is the basis for being cured.

13- Try to reach the children by speaking at their level of understanding :  use simple words. And be sensitive to their small size : kneel when speaking
to them to be at their physical level. Comfort them with simple but sincere displays of affection and care. Especially with very young children try to remember when you were of that age how difficult some common things were
like just tying your shoes and how you could feel so helpless very easily. The
world is made for adults, not for children : this adds to the difficulties. The suffering children can be all the more distressed as they must overcome both
inside and outside hardships.

14- Try to accept any proposals that the child can express : by them ce shows you ces way in life and ces needs for achieving recovery. If you really
feel unfitted for one of them say honestly so. If in doubt try it, unless for reasons of safety or for protecting other children. Later you will understand
why that was needed by the child, as long as you first of all take care to not
block ces dynamics.


15- If you see a child agitated and acutely troubled, try to have ce let you know somehow what is causing the disturbance : sometimes the solution to
ease the child may be very feasible once we know the reason for being distressed.

16- Ask for help and refer to an other assistant if you feel you need to speak
to someone about what is happening with a child or if you feel overwhelmed.

17- Plan regular meetings with the child if you feel that ce will profit from a reserved scheduled time with you and will appreciate to be able to rely on it,
daily if possible.

18- If the child needs the time you spend together to be properly therapy oriented, give this a priority upon any other activity (the child makes significant drawings or want to play with dolls, or whatever activity in which
ce experiences growing painful emotions). At any time be always ready to switch to play therapy : the dramatization ce stages will help ce allow out
heart-wrenching emotions that ce kept repressed so far and which have been
causing permanent symptoms. Such a liberation may happen during daily
doings.

19- The child will probably feed you back with some of your own unresolved issues, so be prepared sometimes to have to think about yourself and the reasons for your own behavior. Then you too should be able to honestly face
what is troubling you, even though you are not perfect and don't know everything. The child then will see it's not easy for you either, and ce will be comforted by realizing ce is not the only one to experience difficult feelings.

20- Accept mistakes that you might make so that the child will know that everybody may be wrong sometimes even with the best good will on earth :
in this field full mastery is never achieved. Just take your mistakes as the  best opportunities to gain a better knowledge about yourself so to improve
your ways and reach a more satisfactory practice both for you and for the children you want to help.

21- Limit chaos, not creativity.

22- Children can teach, adults can learn.

23- Never prevent someone from having fun, except if somebody else suffers
from it.

24- Be attentive but allow improvising : too much planning kills spontaneous dynamics.


When most of these guidelines are sufficiently well followed, we can see the
results with the children and happiness flows on everybody, little and big. All
of these points come from the same basis : we always need to learn to
improve ourselves, we strive to approach others in a gentle and respectful
way.

You will receive the reward in proportion to your efforts and love for the children. When success blooms the children are likely to treat you with a wonderful love in return, no matter how severe their impairments still are.
They may be touchingly grateful because they missed so badly being loved
and helped.


rev 2013

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