After working with various families during this COVID time, one of the biggest things I have taught via telehealth is how to PAIR! I cannot stress this enough, as a parent and as a professional, pairing is one of the biggest things that we can do with our children to ensure that they feel safe and secure, building that rapport and trust with them. Pairing can also help you observe behaviors in the natural environment vs. a contrived situation.
Pairing is essentially establishing a connection with someone or something. This can be done both in a positive and negative manner.
Pairing in a POSITIVE MANNER is what we shoot for in ABA. However, caregivers being the main people who place the most demands on their loved ones can often times pair in a NEGATIVE WAY.
Let’s talk about that.
Negative pairing can make yourself become aversive to someone else. Items and activities can also become negatively paired with aversive situations. For example, every time a blow dryer goes off in the restroom, the sound is really loud. The really loud sound is displeasing to you so you don’t press that button because the action of pressing that button has become paired with the action of the blow dryer turning on.
On the flip side, you can pair yourself, items, or activities in a POSITIVE manner as well.
For example, every time I take my kid’s to my brother’s house, they have a ton of fun. They get to play on a trampoline and go swimming, they get to stay up and do whatever they want because it’s vacay. Therefore, when we are going to my brother’s house, they are excited and they really want to go because they have “paired” my brother’s house with a good time!
You can do this for yourself as well, allowing yourself to become more fun and pleasant to be around for your loved one, because sometimes being a parent isn’t rainbows and unicorns. Take some time with your loved one and just hang out! Take a break from the demands and the teaching, the therapies, the rush of life just trying to “Fix” them and getting them “better” to survive in this messed up world, and let’s take a moment to get into theirs.
Put down your phone, leave the house a mess, and go outside and play. Genuinely pretend you are small again or younger and remember what it felt like without the adult responsibilities crashing around you. Got older kids, check my TikTok below, sometimes we have to really get on their level! This makes the day better for everyone sometimes, just a mini escape from reality! Who said you have to run away to actually get away? Sometimes we just gotta stop being TOO BUSY and start being PRESENT!