Monday, January 24, 2011

Monday Moments - Healing Happens.

  • I have been reading a number of blog lately where parents talk about the lack of healing that is going on for their children with attachment issues as a result of the abuse they suffered as younger children. I need to say that I think EVERY child can heal and grow into a "regular" kid but it is a long road and you can not parent these children like you would neurotypical children.
  • You need find your patient pants because you are going to need them.
  • You need to be creative and try new things. You need to look at things from your child's perspective and acknowledge just how scared they must be by all the things that have happened to them in their short lives. Living in a constant state of fear is really hard and that may be all they have ever known.
  • When we adopted the boys I thought this would be hard at first, but you know just for a few months and then be just like parenting any other kid. I was wrong. It is still not like parenting regular kids, there are glimmers of hope that it will be more like that one day but we are still not there.
  • I regret a lot of the things that I did when the boys first moved in. I made a LOT of mistakes but I learned as I went and I am not the same parent that I was then. I am proud of how hard we have all worked to make this family work.
  • You must change your parenting paradigm when you have children with attachment issues (AI) . For example when you ask your AI child to do something that would be developmentally appropriate for them and then just expect that they will do. They might comply, they might not and how you deal with their behaviour matters a great deal, it might seem like a little thing but it is not just a little thing.  With a neurotypical (NT) child you might reprimand them or provide a consequence when they do not comply, with child with AI you need to be a little more creative because there is a lot of emotion and feeling by the choice that they are making. They are trying to tell you something when they do something wrong or pretend that they can not do something that you know they can do. Your reaction matters.
  • You need to work through your own issues before you can help your child. Their behaviour can trigger a lot of things for us as their parents from our own past and if there is one thing that AI kids are good at it is finding your weak spot. Then they take an imaginary hot poker and keep poking it at you till they finally burn you. Then you react like you wold if someone just burned you on purpose and the child's negative beliefs about themselves and how you feel about them are reinforced.
  • You need to look medications and realise that some medications that are given to NT kids are not effective in kids with AI and in fact can make things worse. We have made the decision not to medicate our children, that was a personal one for us. Our kids do take niacin ( to help with moods and anxiety) and melatonin ( to regulate sleep cycles) that is it and right now that is what is right for us and for our family.
  • Find a therapist, or many therapists. for you and for them cause this is going to be a long journey. You need someone who will work with you and your child together, in your own home would be ideal if possible. You need someone who is going to help this child learn to trust you and to help you build your relationship as parent and child. If the therapist wants to work alone with your kid than they are not the one for you as that is not attachment therapy.
  • Read, there are lots of amazing books out there, if you look at my tabs list there is a list of my favourites. There are also tons of great  adoptive parent bloggers who are working very hard and having a lot of success at helping there children to heal. I don't want to play favourites, although I do have some, but there is list of them in the tabs at the top as well.
  • Do not be afraid to use humour with your AI kids, sometimes laughter is the best medicine there is. Doing something to make them laugh when they are beginning to spiral out of control can bring them back to regulated more quickly than anything else can.
  • Always follow through on what you say and never make a threat that you can follow through on. If you tell your child that they are going to go to church in their pj's be prepared to do it when they make the choice to go that way. When you say no screen time due to behaviour x, then there is no screen time even though they will do everything they can to get you change your mind.
  • Be prepared to choose your battles because there are somethings that really don't matter in the general scheme of things and if he wants to go to school with his shirt on backwards let him.
  • Do not tolerate physical violence. My son has hit and hurt both of us and each time he does we make sure that he knows that he is not acceptable and have him make amends. He does not do it nearly as often as he used to and he has learned that we will still love him but he will be in trouble.
  • Remember that when your child is raging they are fighting to survive, fight or flight is a primal response.  Threatening your raging child  with consequences will not help them to regulate their behaviour and you will need to find what works for you and your family but you must remain calm. With Calvin I would have to take him outside, let him be angry and then offer to hold him till he was calm again, it worked and let me tell you when it was really cold he calmed down a a lot quicker and we came inside to cuddle and talk it out.
  • Give them tons of time and space to learn how to love parents who are not going to hurt them. You need to hold them and love them and rock them. You need to find time a space to spend time with them doing things they want to do. They want to play trains get down on the floor and play trains, they prefer barbies, then barbies it is.
  • Have lots of toys and activities that are meant for toddlers and preschoolers available in your home because your kids need to do all the things that they missed out on. Do not force it, just have them available, say they are for cousins or whatever but have them in your home. Do not let anyone tell your 10 year old son that he should not be having tea party for his stuffies,  he needs to do it, he did not do it as a young child and now he is catching up.
  • Do not let parents of NT kids make you feel like you are a poor parent because you are doing things differently. You may appear more strict with your child but they need firm and consistent rules to begin to heal. Stand your ground with other people when they tell you that you are being to hard on your kids when you say no to them.
  • Keeping an AI kid within arms reach is a very effective way to help them regulate their behaviour. Using time out is often not as effective and can contribute to a child's negative belief system. We use both here but time outs are short and in a central place in the house. If a child is sent to their room it is because they really need some space to themselves.
  • Hug them and kiss them and tell them they are wonderful as often as you can. there may be times when the last things you want to do is hug a child who just broke your favourite case on purpose but think about them not you or your broken vase and tell them they are loved even though you are really hurting.
  • Heather Forbes always says Love Never Fails and I have to say that I agree with her.
  • Hang in there. You are not alone, your child can heal, really they can.


Lisa said...

Amen! Amen! Amen!

Sarah said...

I agree with Lisa- Amen!
I get discouraged. Often. But when I look back at where we used to be and where we are now- we truly are making progress. It is SO important to stay hopeful. The best thing I ever did for myself, and for my son, was to stop listening to friends who have bio kids.

GB's Mom said...

Amen- Timely post! I don't see progress day to day, but when I look back, it is hard to believe we have come that far :)

Diana said...

Another AMEN here. You're spot on! It takes a LLLLOOOONNNNNGGGGG time, but healing does happen. If it's not happening for you, try something different and keep doing it until you find something that does work.

There's one more thing I want to add, though. I think this goes right along with, or maybe even above the patient pants...because, really, this is HOW we find our patient pants. If you want your kids to heal, clean out your own emotional closet. Unpack the baggage, take it to the cleaners, get your own stuff in order, and deal with your own issues. If you don't do it voluntarily, your kids will force it upon you.

Mama Drama Times Two said...

Wow. Thanks you for sharing your parenting insights with us. I know you "earned" this knowledge through some really hard work with your boys. I am sure that they continue to provide you with additonal learning opportunities on a daily basis! I wish I had some of these tips when I first started foster parenting and before we adopted.

:)De said...

Nice post with great info!


Dia por Dia said...

I needed these reminders today. Thank you for a great post!