The Softer and Closer Approach:

Many years ago, starting out as a School Psychologist, I came across a Principal who had established a ritual; he would meet with his teachers every morning to review the day’s events and, at the conclusion of the meeting, he would huddle the teachers together and lead a chant “softer and closer” repeated four to five times, before sending the teachers off to their students. I am hard pressed to contemplate a more significant or relevant mantra for teachers or parents. I have espoused the “softer and closer” approach since that time, and can think of no better way to connect with a child whether working as a mental health professional, teacher, or as a parent. Getting on the child’s level, moving-in close, and speaking in a soft tone, if not a whisper, is remarkably comforting and powerful for a child in any situation, but especially when the child is experiencing a difficulty and needs supportive guidance. Try with your own child; rather than standing across the room yelling, get close, soft, and comforting in tone, and see the difference. Similarly, I speak of “time-in” as opposed to “time-out”; try it, the softer and closer approach, and see the difference.

Dr. John Carosso

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Dr. John Carosso

Dr. Carosso has more than 30 years of experience as a licensed Child Clinical Psychologist and Certified School Psychologist working in private, inpatient, outpatient, residential, school, and home settings. He is Clinical Director of Community Psychiatric Centers (cpcwecare.com), a licensed Behavioral Health Outpatient Clinic, and operates both the Autism Center of Pittsburgh (autismcenterofpittsburgh.com) and the Dyslexia Diagnostic and Treatment Center (dyslexiatreaters.com).