Gentle Teaching Blog Post 1

I recently had my eyes opened in regards to parenting and my youngest daughter.

I am like most working mothers out there; on the go from the moment you wake up until your head hits the pillow. At any given time, you are a chauffeur, activities manager, grocery supplier and laundry queen.

I am definitely known around our house as the one who has a schedule and list for everything, as well as high expectations for me and my family. With that being said, I am never really sure where I am at with that. I often feel like I am second guessing my choice of words or actions in conversations – is this a time to be firm or is this a time to just hug it out? Do our kids feel safe? Valued? Loved? As a parent, I want my kids to be good, responsible, respectful people and always give 100% effort. I am always quick to jump to where I could have done better – I should have said this; I should have given one more cuddle. Did I use all of my GT tools effectively?

Last week the Speech and Language Pathologist was at our house for her weekly session with my youngest daughter. She has been witness to: meltdowns in our house out of frustration, good days, not so good days, and hopefully some stellar moments as well. As I help her gather her things at the end of the session she tells me “it’s always a pleasure to come to your home each week”. I think my mouth fell open. I was thinking she likely says that to all of the families; but I felt compelled to ask her “why”? She goes on to tell me that my daughter is polite, giving, respectful and always tries hard. I just smiled.

As a parent it’s always easy to envision what you want for your children and family as a whole, and all too often focus on the negative (which stays with you like Velcro) instead of all of the great things that you are doing to help nurture these people (which is more likely to slip past you like Teflon).

I was fortunate enough to be reminded that one moment (that could have gone a bit better if you used your tools appropriately), is just that – a moment. Tomorrow is a new day for you to be better or do better or celebrate! You need to appreciate the steps that your kids are currently taking, what unbelievable people they already are and have faith that you are doing the best that you can and always learning.

Both of my daughters are incredible…. sometimes you just need a little perspective.

– Melanie Loroff, Associate Executive Director

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Gentle Teaching isn’t about trying to change behaviour…

Through my 3 and a half years of experience with COR and the philosophy of Gentle Teaching, I have attained a wealth of knowledge and an everlasting impact on my life. When I first started with COR, just like most people, I was a bit skeptical of the whole ideology of unconditional love. In latent terms, I perceived it as ‘give them whatever they want’ or ‘they can do whatever they want without consequences’. At the time, I failed to realize it was so much more than that. The whole basis of Gentle Teaching isn’t trying to change the individual’s behaviour, but rather changing our approach on how we serve the individuals.

My ability to use Gentle Teaching had never really been challenged until I began supporting at a new home and more specifically supporting one individual at that home. When I began, to be 100 percent honest, I was quite nervous. I had heard all the stories that this was the hardest team to support on. To my surprise, it really wasn’t! I got off to a good start with two of the guys. The only one I hadn’t connected with was one of the guys. Every time I would enter his space or try to interact with him, he would completely shut me down. This really bugged me personally. I am the type of person who really likes to get along with everybody, and at times, will over step boundaries to be liked by that person. This happened one day when I was supporting him. I came in that day with what I thought was a solid game plan. I was going to force myself to stay with him, we were really going to joke around and have an awesome time together. I also had the idea to take him to a Rider practice that day thinking it was going to be an amazing experience. I was completely wrong. Sure, he enjoyed the idea of going to Rider practice and seeing all his favourite players, but he still didn’t feel safe around me. I struggled to interpret what he was saying numerous times throughout the day and it led to numerous negative moments, the worst being at the Rider practice where he hit me. After that day, I came to realize that by forcing myself to be in his space, I had removed one of the most fundamental and most important pillars of Gentle Teaching; feeling safe.

They have taught me if I adjust how I provide care and unconditionally love them, rather than force them to be who they are not, that they will reciprocate it back in their way

In order to fix this, I needed to change how I provided care, while also trying to encompass the tools of Gentle Teaching to build the four pillars. For the next couple of months, I took a step back and really focused on observing, rather than forcing myself into situations for my own personal reasons. I was selective and patient in choosing the times that were appropriate to help strengthen his sense of feeling safe around me. Most of these interactions were focused around watching sports games or going out to grab a drink from 7/11. I tried keeping the interactions short and consistent allowing him to become comfortable around me. As time passed, I was able to get him to feel safe by changing how I provided for him. Once I had the sense of feeling safe around me, the other three pillars (feeling loved, feel loving towards others, and feeling engaged) came much more naturally.

Through my experience with all the individuals I support, they have had an everlasting impact on my life. They have taught me if I adjust how I provide care and unconditionally love them, rather than force them to be who they are not, that they will reciprocate it back in their way.

 

Brydon, COR Family Member

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Gentle Teaching has inspired me to become a better person

The way I maintain a culture of gentleness at COR is simply being friends with the individuals I serve. When I am supporting, I look at myself as a guest in a friend’s house. I am not there to ‘take charge’ and tell them how they need to be living their lives. Again, I am a friend and a friend will never judge a friend’s decisions. If anything, I would suggest better choices for them just like any other friend would. For example, if one of the individuals I serve wanted to spend their entire pay check on a $200 used game system, I may suggest other options for the reason of helping them manage their money or I may ask nicely how important the game system is to them. From there, they could hopefully tell me that the game system is not important enough that they spend their entire pay check on or they may choose a cheaper option. If not, they buy the game system and we move on. At the end of the day, it is their choice and if that choice makes them happy, that is all that matters.

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Gentle Teaching has inspired me to become a better person. I find myself using the Gentle Teaching philosophy in all aspects of my life, which has allowed others to feel more respected and warm when they are around me. My Mother first noticed this in me about two months after I began working for COR. She told me that I had came a long way with my personality and the way I show myself to others. Growing up, I was not the child with the best personality or the child with the most respect toward others. As I get older, I am improving in these things every day. It was nice to hear that from someone who sees me almost every day. I know that I am nowhere near perfect, but some progress is better than none. In the end, anyone can better themselves and no one is ever too old to improve.

 

Jason, COR Support