The trick of using Dan Hughes' SPACE therapy and parenting model is - well, to do it right. The post before last gave an example of how magical it is when you finesse it. Wowie. But I'm discovering, there are oh-so-many ways of doing it wrong.
Playfulness - Playfulness can sometimes totally knock an oncoming dysregulation fit out of the ballpark. You see it coming and - wham! A bit of fun, and the storm passes (to mix a few metaphors). When we were at the conference one evening we came back from dinner and something or other had Miss Anastasia approaching a problem-zone. She ran ahead of us to the hotel door and claimed she was not going to let us in, and silly as that sounds she was serious and I could feel Craig, next to me, gearing up to strong-arm her. I tried a bit of playfulness - in this case grabbing Craig and suggesting we go take a nice long walk (we had the key) - and after a few backings and forthings, Anastasia was in a good humor and we all entered the hotel room in peace. Later Craig said he was in awe. "How did you do that?" (Well, hate to say, even doing it I was keeping my fingers crossed. I wonder if even the professionals can get to the point where they feel sure of themselves.....)
But then there was the trip home. We'd driven twenty minutes or so, and I asked Anastasia if I could have the pillow. She wasn't using it, but had it on her lap. I was playful, pretending to grab it, etc.. But, she didn't respond and she wouldn't hand over the pillow. I was playful some more and she slapped my hand (without humor)....more playfulness, increased resistance. To make a long story short, if playful doesn't get a playful response in fairly short order, abandon that ship! I was still being playful when she was seriously slapping my hand and speaking disrespectfully. The thing was - I couldn't see how handing over the pillow would ever rise to anything that "playfulness" couldn't master. But I missed a piece! I missed the ever-critical empathetic piece. I was not really connecting with her; rather I was pretending to connect with the "her" I thought ought to be there. I didn't notice that she was on her phone, texting her fingers off, and certainly didn't know that she'd just had someone tell her that a certain boy had called her a sl*t. I wouldn't have been playful either. Why was I too stupid to actually pay attention to her? I was really ashamed of myself that I'd driven her to behaving badly simply by not being observant and empathetic.
About an hour later at a rest stop when Craig was getting gas, I turned to her, apologized and said, "I realized too late that you were upset. I am sorry I was so annoying when you were obviously feeling bad about something. Want to tell me what's wrong?" And then she revealed to me what the text had been about. I didn't say anything about the pillow, but as Craig got back in the car, she gave it to me.
Gosh, I hate the mis-steps.