Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Half way there.

We are half way through March Break and we are all still alive. The boys are outside playing the yard with nerf guns ( yes I let my kids play with nerf guns, there are plenty of things they are not allowed and we live in the country so shooting foam arrows at tress is okay with me) and have been all afternoon. We are going out to P's son house for dinner tonight because he is leaving the country for 7 months and I would like the boys to have a little less energy than they currently do when we get there. Tired is sometimes a good thing and I know that once we get there the TV will go on and they will stare blankly for a few hours so running around now is a good plan.

I listened to the last of my Beyond Consequences (BC) parenting classes this afternoon and some of the things that Heather talked about as parents chatted in really resonated for me. One was remembering that the behaviour we see  in our kids is usually a fear response

BC is different from a lot of other parenting strategies ( for kids who have had trauma and have attachment issues) because the belief is that all the behaviour that we see comes form the fear that the child has deep within themselves that they are ________ ( worthless, unlovable, stupid, etc.). The solution changing the behaviours is addressing the fears and working through those emotions in a loving way.

Here is a perfect example from this morning, Calvin looked sad at breakfast I asked him what was wrong and he said that he had a bad dream last night. I asked him what it was about and he said that he dreamt that I was gone. I assured him I was not going anywhere and then Fudge baraged into the converation and it ended. A little later I assured him again quietly in his ear that I was here to stay and he shouted out " You wear bikini underwear" I corrected his language and pulled him back to what I said. I said it again and had him repeat it, gave him a kiss and moved on.

 I knew that he had actually heard me but he was so scared that he had put his fear out there that he needed to misbehave to take away from the fact that I was addressing his fear and making it a little less powerful. I knew this and did not react to the behaviour in the way that he expected, instead I just corrected him and moved on. He has been loving, affectionate and looking for reassurance all day but he has not been angry or disregulated wghich is what would of happened if I had gotten drawn into the behaviour that he was showing me earlier. We would of had a crappy day and I can bet that he would of worked at misbehaving until he raged and got all the emotions out that way.

The second thing that really stood out for me was her take on video games. When the boys moved in they were both addicted to game boys, Fudge much more than Calvin but they both enjoyed getting lost in them whenever they could. P and I slowly weaned them off and by the time school had started they were not being played at all except for when we were in the car for more thatn 1 hour. It worked well and we started to see Fudge learning to do other things like read comics and play board games. We allowed them to play computer games on the weekends but started to notice that Calvin would disassociate when he was playing and would always have an accident. Fudge became a whining machine always asking when he could play and how long he could play for.  Eventually the computer was taken away as well.

Fudge still longs for them, he asks to play and is always on us to let him have one but he is a happier kid without them. There is less arguing, whining and disassociating. I have heard/read and strongly believe that kids who have experienced significant trauma use video games to escape from the world, it is a coping mechanism. It allows them to hide and not interact and I am not willing to let that happen, my kids need to learn to function in the world.

Heather also believes that it is an escape, a way to move into a world were they can be really successful and not have to deal with all their feelings. I could not agree more.

I am not saying that you should take your kids video games away, I am just saying this works for us.

PS - I wrote this post afternoon but saved it as a draft. I just got home from dinner out and a tough goodbye for P and the boys. 2 little boys who think that the big brother they love may never come back even though we tell them he will. Why the heck should they believe us, everyone else who leaves never comes back. Calvin raged on the way home and we had to pull the car over twice, he had a good cry on my shoulder the second time and then made it home but he is one angry and confused little guy. He is finally in bed although Fudge has a few new bruises and scratches from Calvin trying to hurt him, Fudge likes to ramp it up when he knows that Calvin is angry - not a good plan because he always gets hurt, one day he will get it.


GB's Mom said...

I am reading "Dare to Love". It definitely looks at our kids from a different perspective. I agree about video games- I wouldn't let GB even get a Leapster!

Mom 4 Kids said...

Great post! Love how you handled the day, good stuff! Sorry he raged, never fun. Hugs!

The Accidental Mommy said...

Hang in there! One step at a time.... sounds like you are on to something great....

David and Jayne Schooler said...

I just found your blog and would like to let you know of our newest book resource. As an adoption for 25 years, I have seen the struggle parents have encountered as they parent traumatized children through the foster care system or international adoption.

Our newest book is entitled "wounded children, healing homes: how traumatized children impact adoptive and foster parents." This is our 7th book project ...our website is Respectfully, Jayne Schooler

BT said...

Great post. So glad you're finding BC helpful. It was THE turning point in our life. We didn't find it until 2.5 years into the behaviours. It felt like such a huge challenge to do BC style parenting when we first started, but it gets somewhat more automatic as you practice more and more. Just like anything, I guess.

I'm with you and Heather on the video games. We limit "screen time" of all types (TV, movies, games, computer use) pretty mercilessly at our house. Yet, I am not willing to take them away entirely. For several years, we had a kids' moratorium on them, but during this past year (with P showing tremendous progress in his healing, and B really growing up a lot) we have gradually introduced various forms of screen time as privileges that are earned. With the game boys, there is a 30 minute limit at a go, and they only get that a few times a week. I like kids who play outside, reach for books as entertainment, construct things from all sorts of materials, and show an attention span that is longer than the snippet of a TV show between commercial interruptions! LOVE it that your boys are running around outside shooting foam things at trees. Mine would love that too.

You are doing great work with your two!!

Floortime Lite Mama said...

LOVE The new look of the blog
fear really is a very powerful emotion
You are so right and smart to adress what they are really feeling
It will def pay dividends in the long run

Dia por Dia said...

We noticed the "screen time" issue with our two oldest and experienced lots of disassociation in one kid and lots of aggression and defiance in the other. My oldest still get NO TV or computer time (except for school research and word processing) or "family" movies. What we did find was that the transitions that commercials provide plus the "speed" of special effects was also impacting them so we have opted for lots of "old" tv shows and cartoons and they don't have that response to them. Video games are still pretty much out of the question for ours... Funny because I have always been a TV and video game buff and now I have to "sneak" it! :-)