- Circles of communication/interaction are the back and forth of non-verbal ‘ping-pong’ or turn-taking that is the basis of all conversation, and we want the child to take his part in the dialogue as much as possible, – which means that YOU must leave GAPS for HIM to take HIS turn. Our most important aim is to help the child to increase the number and complexity of circles of communication and for him to initiate and sustain the dialogue himself.
- Language development is essentially an emotional issue. Language is above all a carrier of emotional communication and meaning, and so much more than just speech or words or names of objects. Words can be learnt easily once emotional communication between child and family provides a secure base for the child to pick up the emotional meanings of what is said through non-verbal communication, the ‘music of language’, tones of voice, gestures, playfulness, facial expressions, etc.
- The emotional drives the cognitive, not the other way round, i.e. children learn best when they are motivated, and we are all motivated by things we love and enjoy and that make us feel that we can succeed and do well.
- Relationships and attachment are the basis of all learning and healthy development,e. the important thing is to engage emotionally with the child as the unique person he is, and not, like in some teaching-approaches, as an animal to be trained/drilled or a computer to be programmed.
- ‘Meet them where they’re at … and take them where they need to go’ (Greenspan), i.e. meet your child at his current level and build on his strengths to help him develop his weaker sides better.
- Follow your child’s lead = ‘tune into his interests and desires in interactions and play to harness the power of his motivation and help him climb the developmental ladder’ (floortime.org)
- Pay attention to your child’s attention, i.e. join your child’s interests and what he is doing and what he WANTS to do through playful interactions, i.e. engage and ‘woo’ the child, – rather than imposing or ‘teaching’, which can be annoying, – except when the child is asking for teaching
- Enter your child’s world to help him to relate meaningfully in spontaneous and flexible ways, and help to Extend and expand on your child’s ideas
- Don’t do for him, what he can do for himself: having ‘a problem’ is not bad, but a healthy challenge for thinking, communicating and mental-emotional growth
- PLAY-Cues are the critical unit of observation. They are the behaviors that tell you, what the child wants to do. They may be verbal, but most often they are non-verbal. A cue tells you whether the child is enjoying, tolerating or not enjoying the interaction. By being sensitive and attentive to cues, you discover the child’s intent. Cues guide interaction and circles of communication to keep you contingent (‘cued’ in) and in ‘The Dance of Relationship’. Cues can be obvious or very subtle; positive or negative, e.g. Frowning (-), Moving away (-), Smiling (+), Giving eye contact (+), Stiffening, Permitting, Pausing …
- SLOW DOWN and TUNE IN to feel your child’s rhythm, so you can share it. LISTEN to his breathing. WATCH and follow his shifting attention. Tune in and respond to his faint cues.