I thought it would be helpful for me to process my current thoughts on this topic. I have observed Matt’s physiotherapist in action; as well discussed with her this issue of “pushing” a child. These are my current conclusions:
Our therapist does not seem to plan her session in stone, but rather adapts the activities based on Matt’s mood and interests in the session.
- In the beginning part of the session she does not push Matt, but rather engages him and lets him lead.
- She seems to recognize that Matt engages better with an activity when he has shown interest it first.
- She does believe that it is important to introduce new ideas and new activities to a child. However, since Matt usually gets upset with new ideas and new activities, she tends to only to introduce these once Matt is working comfortably.
- If Matt gets upset with a new idea she does not rescue him from the challenge immediately but talks him through it.
- Sometimes he finds the new task possible and he engages with it. Other times he remains upset - at this point she will take Matt to ring some beautiful sounding chimes that calm him.
- She does not force him to return to the upsetting activity, but rather engages him in an activity that he shows interest in. In future sessions she will return to the upsetting activity – and most times Matt is open to engaging with it because it is no longer new.
My personal feeling is that she has a good balance between letting Matt lead (and staying within his comfort zone) versus introducing him to new ideas (that he finds threatening but are vital to learn).