Confidence increases as a result of repetition and the reinforcement we receive for our effort. We grow in confidence when we feel competent.

For example, imagine trying a new and challenging recipe. We gather the ingredients and follow the directions to create a successful result. All the best chefs remind us to begin with good ingredients and follow the essential steps. If we include poor quality ingredients or don’t pay attention to cooking time and temperature, it is likely we will not achieve the desired result. We may try the recipe many times and tweak it each time until it reflects our best effort.

The same is true in our communication and relationships with others. We are the essential ingredients along with our communicative partner, the content adds spice and the communication strategies contribute time and temperature. The recipe for successful communication and relationship relies on good ingredients and time-tested strategies of communication behavior.

Some parents and caregivers report a lack of confidence in their communication, especially when their child is diagnosed with autism. Perhaps they haven’t felt reinforced for their efforts through the experience of enough successes. Now cooking may appear a particularly challenging place to begin if food and feeding issues have presented barriers; but I love cooking with children when parents say they only eat ‘cheeseballs’ or ‘blue food’ or ‘they don’t come to the table at all.’ With slow, steady steps, lots of visual supports, a creative approach and frequent repetition, children engage in cooking activities first because of the predictable steps of the recipe, then for the sense of creative completion and sometimes, only sometimes, because of the food!  The most important creation is the confidence that grows…confidence andcommunication!

Think about one meal in the day when a feeling of success would have great positive impact, one encounter where cooking could make a meaningful change.  Relative to your specific need, you can experiment with a recipe as simple as bowl – cereal – spoon and a picture of cereal in the bowl –  to create a recipe for success.  A more complex recipe, or a more complex communication challenge, might benefit from the use of multiple images, ingredients on a grid or an electronic image of the ingredients and cooking steps if the use of electronic devices advances mutual communication.  The goal is building confidence … cooking and communicating.

It is in the steps of the encounter where we engage each other successfully or unsuccessfully. Each time we feel successful, that success reinforces our effort and we grow in confidence. When a client builds on that one encounter and realizes success, the client is reinforced by the success and carries communication skills to the next recipe, the next encounter, all the while increasing their feelings of competence and confidence. Could you use a feeling of more confidence? Cooking together is a great place to start.

What’s for dinner?  Just a thought…