Parent child interaction movement-play attaches.
By Resie Bessems and Gees Boseker
Printed in magazine ‘Vroeg’ in 2017
A problematic attachment relationship can drastically influence a family in an extremely negative manner, with all kinds of behavioral problems as a result.
The Parent-child interactive movement-play (OKI-B), has been developed to help these families. It concerns short-term treatment with young children whom have attachment problems.
Children with attachment problems are unable to anticipate upon their environment and adjust their behavior to what is expected of them. This presents feelings of insecurity, unsafety, and
suspiciousness, and can lead to psychopathology. Behavioral problems which can arise are mostly self -determining conduct, risk taking behavior, excessive clinginess and over exaggerated alertness.
As a result of problematic attachment relationships, guardian and parental insecurities can arise. Raising young children from a place of insecurity within the parent, is bound to lead to authority and boundary issues within the child.
Joep is three years old and has been sleeping for quite a period of time with his parents. If they attempt to put him into his own bed, he becomes very angry and causes quite commotion. His
mother thinks that his sleeping problems might be related to her attachment relationship with Joep. After his birth she fell into a depression for a period of time and therefore suspects that the
attachment process may have been negatively influenced.
Physical awareness are of fundamental value for the development of attachment and the interlinked affection regulation with children. Young children learn the emotional meaning of physical awareness through the experience of the tuned in physical behavior (eye contact, facial expression, tone and intonation of voice, posture and touch), of a sensitive, responsive attachment figure.
Existing treatments for attachment problems concentrate mainly on development of cognitive and emotional domains. Clinical experience and neuropsychological research show that focus on physical awareness of the child can present a new approach for the treatment of therapy. The same applies for attention around the sensitivity, and the tuning in on the child’s physical behavior from the parents or guardian.
The Sherborne Developmental Movement (SDM) where Parent- child interaction movement-play is based at, offers crucial starting points. SDM believes that a healthy development of children is based on two pillars: their ability to commit to safe relationships with others, and ‘body mastery’ ’feeling at home in their own body and the experience or implicit knowing that the body is a safe place. According to SDM, movement and movement-play with children are natural sources to work on with both of the pillars. The development of a young child depends upon physical awareness, the progressive movement possibilities and the interaction with others.
Tough talk, anxious look
Joep and his parents arrive for the first time to a play and observation session. A perky toddler steps into the room. He gives the impression that he is not afraid of anything or anyone. He is not in the least quiet. Of all the play games he is offered he says he already know them. Though when he actually has to do them, it all becomes obviously a little frightening for him.
Joep hesitates, gets angry quickly, and refuses to co-operate. He doesn’t want to lay on his back in the boat, neither does he want to climb on mum and dad, or to get wrapped up like a ‘present’ in a cloth. Joep talks tough, but he looks frightened. He wants to do everything on his own, thinks he is the strongest, the best, and especially, the boss.
Experience orientated therapy
OKI-B is a short-term experience-orientated treatment for parents and children up to eight/nine years old, where there is case of disruptive attachment relationships. The treatment consists of play sessions with parent and child together, where there is interaction through movement play and at the same time video recordings are being made.
There are approximately eleven sessions, involving both parents and child. There are also three talk sessions Involving only the parents where video feedback is offered.
OKI-B work with different relationship types, expressed in different kind of play games “taking care of relationships’’(one person cares for another) , ‘’against each other relationships’’, (two people
finding out their own strengths with each other, while they consider each other at the same time as well,) and ‘’together relationships’’, (relationships that require mutual dependability, support and tuning in to each other).
Through play games that anticipate upon these kinds of relationship types, the parents create the possibility to practice parental skills playfully and positively in a safe, controlled environment thus creating a greater sensitivity towards their child. They are supported by the therapist, whom at the same time plays an important exemplary role with regards to the sensitivity. The child gets the possibility to increase his responsiveness and to have positive and pleasurable experiences with themselves and their parents: experiences which have not had the chance to develop naturally or that have stagnated, because of the attachment problems.
Sharing the video recordings and the feedback, parents develop a greater sense of sensitivity through reflection upon their own physical finetuning behavior with their child. Along the way they learn to adequately react to the communication signals from the child.
Step by step
Joep and his parents have come to play ten times. In the play games the parents let him feel that laying on your back in a boat, sliding on your belly like a vacuum cleaner and pushing against dad
who is a rock, can be quite a lot of fun. Joep is learning to trust his parents more, step by step. Carefully, we hear the sounds of positive remarks, such as ,”My mum is strong!’’, or ‘’Dad will you
In a pilot taken in 2010 within three Youth-care institutions, a research of the effect of the treatment took place. A pre-test and post-test was taken based on video material and question lists with 25 parents and their children. After approximately eleven play sessions and three sessions of video feedback, the sensitivity of the parent or guardian had raised significantly, as well as the
responsiveness of the child. In addition the behavioral problems of the child had decreased. Even though large-scale research is necessary to confirm the results, OKI-B is recognized as a hopeful
treatment/therapy for young children.
OKI-B is carried out within all sectors of childcare by youth workers, psychologists, special education generalists, child physiotherapists and psychomotor therapists. There is a training program available that trains counsel workers to become an OKI-B therapist. Developing in connectedness
And what about Joep?
He feels a lot safer, he wants to play the boss less, is trusting more, dares to ask for help and he is sleeping in his own bed again. His parents are moved and satisfied. They see that Joep is growing and developing, with them , in connectedness!