When is it too early (or too late) to seek support for your 2e child (or 2e self)?
I frequently am asked, “When is it too early or too late to seek support as a 2e parent or 2e adult? The answer is simple: “Never.”
A frequent realization for parents and 2e adults is that perspectives are skewed. Parents’ perspectives of their 2e children, 2e adults’ perspectives of themselves, and teachers’ perspectives of 2e learners. In fact, anyone who meets a 2e human often has an incorrect or inappropriate perspective. Conclusions are made based on inaccurate assumptions. For instance, “You’re so smart, why can’t you just…” “That kid is playing you; he just wants you to do that for him.” “That employee is asking for special treatment, how can she need to work from home so much?”
2e humans internalize expectations of others, and even if they are not appropriate expectations, the 2e person feels broken, bad, and bereft. The experiences leading up to these feelings are what I refer to as “layers of mud.” So many layers of mud accumulate on the 2e person, that they often feel, no matter their age, that it is too late to make a change. Fortunately, there are ways to adjust, change course, and wash away the mud.
The first step is to get deep into those layers of mud. Why did they happen? What were others’ assumptions? What was the truth – the trigger, that made the 2e person react the way that they did. Their response – whether a need, or a strong reaction was based on a trigger. Requesting time to work from home, for example, may be a reaction to a sensory – toxic environment, not an attempt to shirk off work. Lying on the classroom floor or refusing to do work, may be due to a social emotional struggle, or a learning difference, not oppositional or defiant behavior. It’s important to unpack what led to the 2e person’s behaviors and then to consider why others reacted the way they did.
The Know-Show-Control Approach
First, interview the child (if you are a parent) or deeply consider your inner self (if you are a 2e adult). Ask questions as to why reactions or behaviors occurred. Allow time to consider what made you or your child flee to your feeling brain and away from your thinking brain.
Second, if you are a parent, ask questions to help the child reorient their thinking to consider other perspectives. Do not tell a child that their behavior causes others to question, dislike, or repel them. That type of conversation is toxic. Rather, ask questions about how others might perceive them. Use props; stuffed animals, superhero figures, or stories, to help your child see the other side of their experience. If you are an adult, consider what incorrect assumptions others might be making based on your behavior. Ask yourself how and why they came to those erroneous conclusions. Be honest. If someone else did, said, or reacted as you did, what would you think?
Last, once your or your child’s perspective is understood, the viewpoint of others is considered, ask questions that give the 2e person control over how they will tweak their behavior next time. Queries like, “If you could rewind, what would you do differently?” “What do you think you’ll do next time?” “How can you make sure others understand and respond to your needs?”