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The Struggle is Real…Important

It’s Thursday afternoon and I’m banging my head on the steering wheel after my home visit. Why? Because I’ve spent the last hour coaching this family to stop giving their two year old a bottle when she can drink from a sippy cup, straw, and an open cup. It’s not like we haven’t worked on this IFSP goal every week for the last 4 months. It is such a struggle for me–what is the point of me going if they aren’t going to follow through?

WAIT! The struggle isn’t about me.

I recently came across this video about leadership and coaching that used a butterfly emerging from a cocoon as an illustration. The man watching saw the butterfly struggling and finally decided to help. Unfortunately, the struggling is important for the butterfly’s wings and body to correctly form. By helping, the man caused more harm than good.

This made me ask myself: Am I helping this family by sharing my experience and knowledge with child development or am I harming them by not coaching them to solve the problem themselves?

The following coaching strategies recommended in this video shaped the next few visits I had with this family.

Ask Questions – I asked more questions about the bottle. I learned that the issue isn’t the little girl drinking from a bottle, but being consoled in the middle of the night when she cries too loud and wakes up other family members.

Explore the Situation – I was able explore the family’s bedtime routine and brainstorm with the family possible replacement behaviors for the bottle to soothe the little girl.

Have Patience – It has been two more months since I began viewing this struggle differently. The little girl is still taking the bottle, but the family is trying some of the strategies we come up with during visits. More importantly, they have shared other challenges and ways they have tried to work through them (they don’t wait for me).

The struggle is still real, but I now realize how important it is for the family and I can see the beautiful results emerging!

What are some of the problems your families have struggled with? Are you coaching to solve their problem for them or coaching them to solve problems themselves?
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Laura Harrell is an Early Interventionist and Early Intervention Resource Agency Manager with Prospect. She has provided developmental therapy to families just east of Nashville for the last three years. Laura previously worked for ten years in Alabama with Early Intervention, Childcare Enhancement with a Purpose, and Assistive Technology. She can be reached at: Lharrell@prospectinc.com

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2 Comments to “The Struggle is Real…Important”

  1. We recently shared this same video at a meeting for the Early Intervention Local System Managers in Virginia. Our discussion centered on supporting staff. I love the way Laura took the message and used it to shape her approach with a challenging family situation.

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