Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Wordy Wednesday: Reframing

Welcome to Wordy Wednesday!
The subject for today:
You know how every now and then some average Joe finds a painting at a flea market or in Grandma's attic. The frame though is loose, chipped and discolored. He dusts it off, looks at it in decent lighting and decides it's a nice painting, just needs a new frame. He takes it to a frame shop or artist, and low and behold, he finds out he has stumbled upon a true treasure! Now, in a lovely, well fitting frame, everyone around him can enjoy this masterpiece and see how beautiful and delicate it is.

People are very much like art. Each of us precious, unique, and complex.

Sometimes though, the true brilliance of a piece is obscured by an inappropriate or ill-fitting frame. This could lead one to believe that the art itself is defective, or damaged, but that is often not the case. Usually, all the art needs is a little TLC, a new frame, and good maintenance.

This is also true of people. The way we chose to see and think of an individual is our frame. Our viewpoint. At times however, we prove to be inferior craftsmen, and the frame we've fashioned just isn't the right fit. So we must reframe. We must adjust our view and possibly our expectations.

Especially is this so in regard to individuals with a disability, illness, or special needs. However, this is easier said than done. Expectations and hopes can be hard to readjust. Even feelings of disappointment or resentment can make reframing difficult.

In Regard to Our Children

While reframing can be an invaluable aide to success for anyone, from old to young, we are going to focus primarily on children. I have compiled some steps that perhaps might prove helpful. The goal is to see specific behaviors as symptoms of his/her condition. Then one is more clearly able to see the child for who they truly are, and be able to focus on their abilities and talents.

[Please keep in mind that I am not a health professional, and this is not to be viewed as medical advice. This is a presentation of research that our family is trying to incorporate. Please talk to your doctor about your child's specific needs.]

Our family is far from mastering these steps yet, in fact, we haven't even worked through all of them. That's okay though, initial reframing can be accomplished without mastering anything. Over time these steps can help refine parents viewpoints, and in turn parents can help their children properly frame themselves, and help others see the best in your child as well.

Seven Steps to Aide Reframing Success

  • Become familiar with the unique challenges that a child faces due to a condition they live with. (Even highly gifted children, while not having a 'disability', do sometimes have behavioral issues due to their giftedness.)

  • Finding out what is and isn't within a child's ability to control is a vital step. It is entirely unproductive, and in fact can even prove destructive to punish a child for behaviors over which they have no ability to self-regulate.

  • Educate your child on their condition according to their level of comprehension. This empowers a child instead of isolating them.

  • Help your child recognize and eventually foresee their triggers and learn to anticipate their needs.

  • Learn how to enable your child to employ techniques that encourage self-regulation. Especially how to deal in unexpected scenarios when a parent may not be present to help.

  • Provide your child with the words he/she needs to navigate common challenges. Many problems occur because of communication gaps. (See Communication below)

  • Empower those with whom they have regular dealings, teachers, coaches, babysitters, extended family, by helping them become familiar with these same steps. Then they can advocate for your child with you.


Clear communication is vital to successfully reframe. Between parents, parents and their child, parents and other caregivers, parents and doctors, and children and their caregivers. All of these relationships will help children thrive when good communication exists.

Parents cannot always be present to interpret a child's needs to others, so it is important to help a child cultivate this skill themselves. This like most skills will take time, patience and practice, but the results can be very positive.

A child who knows how to say, "Moving really helps me to concentrate, may I please swing my foot as long as I don't bang anything?" will likely have a much more positive exchange than one who simply shrugs, or can only say, "I can't help it!" Obviously, age plays a large role in this ability, but even young children can be equipped with simple explanations. "I'm feeling scared/angry/fast!" "I feel less scared when I'm over here." "My body is hungry to move!" or "My spring is too tight, I need to bounce." (Some children, however, have speech delays or other significant communication barriers that can make this type of self-advocacy extremely challenging, if not impossible.)

This type of clear statement may help a teacher or caregiver remember to  reframe your child and their natural desire to help them succeed will hopefully move them to work with your child's needs.

Sadly, not everyone in your child's life will be as enthusiastic to go the extra mile for your child, and may simply be unwilling to try and reframe their viewpoint. This is sure to result in bad days, stress, and maybe even resentment, from all parties. Especially if it is an individual highly involved in your child's life, such as a teacher or daycare provider. If you are a family facing this challenge, my heart hurts for you. I wish I had some great words of wisdom. All I can really say is:
I hope you find the support you deserve soon.


Reframing an individual can lead to fulfillment of a basic human need, acceptance. Everyone, regardless of our skills, faults, or challenges needs to feel accepted for who they are. I can say firsthand that reframing someone can be very hard, in part because it requires more effort on our part, more personal responsibility. The rewards are huge though, especially when it comes to our children.
Let's try it. Let's all keep on trying to reframe each other and pretty soon we'll find ourselves surrounded by fascinating, beautiful living art!


  1. I love this one. Thank you for writing it.

  2. :-) Enjoyed this entry. Very useful suggestions of how to talk through situations better. Keep it up!

  3. So proud of you! Love you!!