Parenting as Theater
Today, I want to start the discussion of parenting as theater. This week, I will present a webinar introducing the tools of theater. The Theater Arts for Holistic Development (TAHD) approach views theater in terms of the following components:
- Arts and crafts
I invite parents to consider how these five tools can be used by parents to support their child’s development.
Join us for the webinar on 9th November to explore this topic!
The TAHD is the latest step in my use of theater arts tools. It has given me a framework to think about the use of theaters arts as a parenting tool. However, I have experimented with many elements of theater through various therapeutic and educational approaches. During this session, I will discuss the use of theater arts tools in relation to these approaches. I have listed the website for each approach and included a brief overview from the website. Listen to the webinar and check out the resources that interest you!
- Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)
RDI® programs teach parents how to guide their child to seek out and succeed in truly reciprocal relationships, while addressing key core issues such as motivation, communication, emotional regulation, episodic memory, rapid attention-shifting, self-awareness, appraisal, executive functioning, flexible thinking and creative problem solving.
2. Waldorf Education
Waldorf schools offer a developmentally appropriate, experiential, and academically rigorous approach to education. They integrate the arts in all academic disciplines for children from preschool through twelfth grade to enhance and enrich learning. Waldorf education aims to inspire life-long learning in all students and to enable them to fully develop their unique capacities.
3. Enki Education
Enki Education offers a unique and innovative way to approach living and learning, parenting and educating. At all grade levels, whether in classroom or homeschooling programs, all academics are taught using a three fold process. This process begins with the arts and, through a series of steps, opens to full mastery of skills and concepts. In this way, we nurture the whole child, weaving together a coherent program including academics, arts, story, activities, movement, and exploration, to bring about deep learning and growth.
4. Bharatanatyam and Natyashastra
The Natya Shastra is considered the sacred text for all performing art forms. One of the major aspects of Natya Shastra, the Abhinaya (ways in which an actor communicates or expresses) has been mentioned in great detail in this text. Other aspects such as the graceful body movements and postures, the mudras (hand gestures) and rasas (aesthetic experience) used in dance, drama and other performing arts have also been documented extensively.
5. Theater Arts for Holistic Development
RASA – Ramana Sunritya Aalaya was founded in 1989 by Dr. Ambika Kameshwar with the vision to empower one and all, through the Theatre Arts experience. Today, RASA stands as a 32 year old organisation with a multi-pronged approach to inclusion and transformation.
One of the biggest challenges I faced as a parent of neurodivergent child was taking systematic, consistent action. There are numerous resources on every topic and every challenge parents of neurodivergent child face. However, there is no clear guidance on what is worth doing at any given time. Hence, parents are likely to try different ideas and approaches and not practice any techniques consistently. The 100-Day project was created to address this challenge. The goal of the 100-Day project is sustained, consistent action.
In the last few articles, I have suggested that targeting co-regulation is a useful step for parents of neurodivergent children. Co-regulation is the foundation for learning. Based on my suggestions and discussions in the LIFESMART Parenting groups, several parts started addressing co-regulation. As described in her blog post, Shinjita Joshi-Pant started implementing a 100 Days of Co-regulation project. Other parents are also considering or starting 100-Days of Co-regulation.
We invite to join the LIFESMART 100-Day Parent Lab and start a 100-Days of Co-regulation project. If you are interested, please email me at email@example.com
The LIFESMART Canvas
The LIFESMART canvas is a visual summary of the LIFESMART process.
Each parent’s journey can be viewed in terms of the five Ps.
- The parent sees possibilities.
- The parent clarifies priorities.
- The parent chooses a path forward.
- The parent practices selected skills.
- The parent monitors progress and reviews the transformation of parent interactions, child engagement, and the system over time.
Communities such as SpecialSaathi can influence all the Ps. In this example, I am suggesting a specific path forward:
Do a 100 Days of Co-regulation project.
Co-regulation and Daily Learning
Read about co-regulation here.
According to this article, “The supportive process between caring adults and children, youth or young adults that fosters self-regulation development is called “co-regulation.”
Role of parents/caregivers
- Provide a warm, responsive relationship
- displaying care and affection;
- recognize and respond to cues that signal needs and wants
- provide caring support in times of stress
- Create an environment that is physically and emotionally safe for children, youth, and young adults to
explore and learn at their level of development .
- Develop consistent, predictable routines and expectations
- Provide clear goals for behavior regulation
- Provide well-defined logical consequences for negative behaviors.
- Teach self-regulation skills
I will be discussing tips and techniques to guide parents in this project. Other parents such as Shinjita will also share their experiences and insights.
Coregulation is a mindset as much as an action. If parents commit to developing coregulation to support self regulation in the child, they will be on a different path. They will be more focused on creating a safe, stress free environment. They will not send their child to therapists and schools that don’t accept and include them and put pressure on them. Every decision will be influenced by the coregulation idea. However, mindsets are not easy to change! So start a 100 Days of Coregulation project and take small steps to coregulation.
Journey to Regulation…
I remember joining the LIFESMART group, thinking of it as another resource-group. Then started reading about Rama Ma’am’s daily posts explaining about the meaning of LIFESMART. First being, “Learn Daily ”, which was our core-struggle. Then she talked of Co-regulation with respect to Guided Participation. I asked more about it and it made sense as I felt the disconnect between our children and us as well as the lack of motivation to do anything except their favourite activity (without being robotic about it), were the major reasons to not being consistent.
So, when Rama Ma’am suggested the idea of 100-day-projects, I chose “Co-regulation”. Now, you must be wondering, What is Co-regulation?
- back and forth communication, mostly non-verbal like gestures, body language, facial expressions.
- Guess the pattern then follow it and act accordingly.
In a nutshell, its being “in-sync”, moment-to-moment, and learn to trust.
-Linda Murphy (Coregulation Handbook)
How to practice it ? (eg hanging clothes in clothesline)
- Assign clear defined roles
(Child : give clothes one at a time to Mommy, Mommy : hang it on clothesline)
- Establish a pattern
(Child gives : Mommy hangs :: to-and-fro)
- Add variation(s)
- Give challenges
(Clothesline is up high not upto our level)
Almost all our daily activities can be practised with these rules.
Things to keep in mind :
- Wait for 45-sec for the child to do his/her role.
- Don’t focus on the skill but on the process.
- Refrain from prompting or instructing.
- Try to maintain eye-contact not by asking for it but with actions.
- Don’t force any role in an activity if the child doesn’t want to do that, go with the flow.
- Create competent roles for each other, we want to end the activity on a positive note.
Changes I noticed :
- Practising Co-regulation has made me calmer esp. during those activities. It’s regulating me too.
- I have learnt to wait for her responses.
- It took me out of the crisis mode.
- I have stopped looking for different kinds of therapies, after 11years of trial-and-error of so many therapies, I’m content and putting my 100% into it and have joined the formal RDI training.
My daughter :
- Very less prompting needed as the roles are clearly defined.
- Slowly few behaviours started fading away
- Spontaneous speech even-if it is 2/3 words.
- More confident in her demeanour.
After that, I took up 100-days-of-Movement, and now have a daily rhythm of both the activities combined as well as academics.
I would suggest everyone who reads this write-up to know more about Coregulation and think of starting it. The proof lies in the pudding. There is a separate thread on Coregulation on LIFESMART Telegram-channel. It’s a process which helps not only our kids but parents too.
Like us, one can start with a 100-day-project, research more about it, experiment with it, and see the results themselves. I was so impressed (read motivated) with the small small changes in us that I formally signed up for an annual RDI parent training.