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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Life Lessons in Home Care

Published March 2, 2009 1:19 PM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling

Several months ago, I worked with a new mom who mentioned to me that she had a very difficult time telling her two year-old daughter the word "no". She wanted to make her "happy" and doesn't like it when she is "mad" at her or just "upset in general".  Despite this, the same mom was terribly disappointed with the relationship dynamics that existed in their home. Her daughter would tantrum frequently both in and outside of their home. They were unable to go to restaurants. Play dates and outings were disastrous. Her family life had become completely unmanageable.

So, as a by-product of the chaos that existed in the home, her child's communication continued to lag. I would offer suggestions related to speech and language development; however the more I got to know the family, observe the interactions and listen to mom's tales of frustration, I knew I needed to take a new approach!

"Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  —Albert Einstein

I recently read an article about a speech therapist who also chose to become a licensed Life Coach, so that she could counsel families in situations such as the one I described.  

It is a very appealing concept to me because I often find myself needing to help families problem-solve the behavior and discipline issues that stand in the way of making progress in their child's speech and language goals. I sometimes feel that I need to take a "tough love" approach and say things that are sometimes difficult to say and I am sure are hard to hear. For example, with the family I described above, after listening to her talk about these issues for several weeks with no real improvement or movement, despite my speech and language-based suggestions, I told this wonderfully open-minded and endearing mom:

"YOU are the mom. This is YOUR home and these are YOUR children. You need to decide what kind of life you want. What type of family do you want to be? YOU are the deciding factor. If you tell your child YES all the time while she's young, there will come a time when she's older that you will want her to listen when you say 'No' and it will be too late. Your children aren't born knowing right from wrong. It's YOUR job to teach them."

My little "pep talk" made a difference and I saw the changes come quickly over the next several weeks. It's interesting. I find that the longer I am in this job, the less I rely on what I learned in grad school and more on what I've learned from life.

Please write in and share stories about families you have "coached" in a unique way.

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About this Blog


    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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