Zig Zag Thinking

#contentology #plan

How much do you plan?

How much does it help your life if you plan
things out and how good at this task are you?

I know for myself, when I take the time to plan, life runs much more smoothly and
when I find myself having the ‘can’t be’s’, the things tends to get
unorganised and then this causes me to become more stressed.
So for me, having a good plan and sticking to this plan is actually
very calming.

Planning is a topic that often comes up for families as something
they have noticed that they need to do to help their child with high
anxiety cope. But simultaneously, there can be challenges found
when a family might have to inform their child that the plans have to
change and this is not coped with well at all. And not just for kids, I
also know has experienced strong feelings of disappointment and
annoyance when changes happen (which are outside your
control…Covid-19, border lockdown)…that cause your plans to
change!

However, finding the balance between having a good plan, and
being flexible enough in our thinking to be able to develop a new
plan is a sought after skill. It is certainly a skill that has had a very
good workout for many of us this year.
Inside the therapy room, it’s a concept we begin to introduce in later
primary school years and sometimes I have called it ‘developing our
‘zig zag thinking’. This came out of making a visual of how plans
can change.

So we all know that we can have intentions to make something
happen (plan A) and then something unforeseen happens and we
have to make a new plan (plan B), and then something else further
might happen again and we have to make an even further plan
(plan C). /\/\/\

Kids also sometimes say that parents have ‘lied to them’ when
plans have to change-which is hard for parents to hear this and to
sit with kids disappointment and confusion. The trick is finding ways
of communicating with them (try visuals with language) that we now
have new information that we need to consider and sometimes this
new information means that we can create a new, better plan. Or
that the plan will have to be enacted on another day and time.Being able to zig-zag in our approach towards our planning and
being able to develop this skill can be very helpful, especially if you
find that you or your loved ones like to make a plan and then want
it to be stuck to, at all costs.

If you notice this tendency, perhaps try out this notion when creating
a plan of building some flexibility (or some back up plans) into the
plan. And remind yourself that should you need to re-write and redefine the plan, it is not being fickle or ‘airy-fairy’, but it’s showing
flexibility and versatility.

Kate x

Published by Kate French

Clinical Psychologist; expertise in autism and child and family psychology.

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