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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Books for Parents on Trauma and Attachment

What are some of the books you have found most helpful in your journey. There are many parents out there who have little resources and feel alone. I thought today it would be great if we'd all share the books that have helped us the most.

Anything by Dr.Arthur Becker-Weidman to me is sound and helpful. To me he has a full understanding of parenting, trauma and therapeutic parenting and explains it in ways that are truly useful. Here is where your should begin: 


So parents! What are you reading?

Monday, January 9, 2012

The New Year outlook

Major post Christmas implosion here but recovering! I went with our daughter to visit my mother over New Years. Our youngest stayed home with dad as he is now working part time. I returned to a boy enraged. It was a tough week. It took a few days before he finally was calm enough to talk. We went right back to:

"I am not going to leave you."
"I love you so much and always will."
"I miss you when I'm gone and am happy to see you again."
"The little guy inside that was abandoned is telling you it is happening again. Use the `16 year old thinking to tell him he is safe."

And now he is back. If your child has had great healing and has a regression go back to what worked. It will work again and it will pass.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Christmas......almost here moms. HANG ON!

I hear the moms on Face Book. Our 16 year old has turned into the Grinch and he has had much healing. I remember when the kids were little and my 2 little ones with RAD were in trouble so often at school and wild and angry at home. It is hard.  When their behaviors step up, the therapeutic parenting needs to step up.


Sometimes it helps a tad to realize this is normal for them. This is how it is going to be for now.


As they heal Christmas' will get better. I remember that eventually I would be at this point and think "Oh yeah. I used to hate Christmas, but it is OK now." If you work hard using empathy, consistency, attunement, love and understand their trauma and let them know so, IT WILL HAPPEN.


Do not focus on your child's behavior all the time. Do not become obsessed. Enjoy time with other family. Yesterday I went for a pedicure. Just that simple act of having someone care for me can be so refreshing this time of year. When your sick child's behavior steps up, your care of the caregiver needs to step up. During those times I found that going to bed one hour earlier was helpful.

Take care of yourselves mom. We all love moms, and care about your pain. You will get through this. Never, never, never quit.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What is Therapeutic Parenting?

You are probably an amazing "regular" parent. That may be part of what made you want to adopt in the first place. But then a traumatized child entered your family and your self confidence went down the tubes.

Our children think differently. They feel a lot. And most of the time their big feelings go straight into anger. They do not feel safe and do not view mother's as safe people who they can trust.

Parenting our kids can actually have joyous times if we learn how to connect with them.  We want them to feel safe and loved.

Empathy: It is just being able to get into their world and walk around in their shoes and feel what they feel. We will never know (unless experienced yourself) the depths of some of their abuse, but we can know enough so that they feel understood and heard. All of us want to know that someone "gets"us. Understands us deep down. An important part of empathy as a parent, is coming back out of their world and being the calm and stable one to help them deal with it. Staying in that world and feeling it for them is not helpful. Being there to walk through it with them is what is needed.

Attunement: It is pretty obvious when our car needs tuned up. It runs rough. If you take it in for a tune up it is a pleasure to drive. And so we need attunement with our family members. It is different from empathy. Empathy says "I feel your pain and I care." Attunement is more of a matching of mood so as to communicate together. If your child is feeling playful but is escalating, smiling and calming them in a kind but gently playful way is attunement. If your child is sad, then giving them a hug and giving them quiet time is attunement. If it is you and your spouse are going out on a date and you want to go some place loud and fun, and your partner is exhausted and just wants a quiet dinner and a movie, you tune in to them and give them what they need. The same is true of our kids. If someone makes a joke and you see the look on your child's face says "Ouch" then you tune into that and say something like "be careful of each other's feelings" and make eye contact with that child letting them know you saw.

Fun: Having fun in life is so important for maintaining emotional health. Our kids find it hard to have fun. They may sabotage an outing if they know ahead. Simple. Don't tell them ahead of time until they are to the point of being able to handle that. Keep family times short and simple. A quick game of "Apples to Apples", a run to a matinee, a spontaneous trip to Dairy Queen. Even those may be tough. Sometimes on the way, you can say, "If this much family time is too hard for you, let us know by doing .......(whatever your child usually does) We can handle it." Or afterwards you may say. "I know family time sometimes makes you feel (sad, scared, angry) I'm here to help you through it if you need it".  As the child can handle these short fun activities, then you can add a little longer.

Snuggling: Sometimes snuggling an angry child is the last thing we want to do.  Tough. As a parent, we love our kids in the way they need it. So snuggle, love and hug on your kids as much as they will let you. (appropriately, of course).  Our kids need it. All kids need it. Our kids need it more.

When they fail: Do not lecture, yell, or start throwing around punishments. Parent and "correct" lovingly. Remember we are building trust and safety at this point. Not teaching them "a lesson". I'm not saying let them get by with things. Our other kids are watching. But our approach is gently and loving, not harsh and punitive. Take the negative emotion out of the situation. I often tell myself to think of my child as though they are very ill and have done this. How would I talk to them then? Gentleness enters the situation easily then.

When they succeed: Tread lightly. Overly praising or making more of it then is worthy is obvious. None of us likes that. But give praise and  emotion for a job well done. Remember for them right now most strong emotion goes straight to anger, so keep it happy and proud, but not "too much".

Let your child know you adore them. You are glad you are their mom. They are a gift from God. We are blessed to have them in our lives. Do we some days want to tear our hair out. Oh yeah. Is it worth it? Oh yeah.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Proud of my heart

I was going to just post this picture but then I was afraid people would think I'm talking about me. I'm proud of my kids hearts. They just keep trying. I've had the stomach flu for a couple of days. We have only our youngest at home. He used to have a full blown case of RAD. He made me the best scrambled egg for dinner last night. He has been loving and attentive. I'm proud of your heart son!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Creating a Wonderful LIfe

This evening I watched It's a Wonderful Life. I love that movie. Just a couple of minutes into the movie this conversation takes place:
God:   Yes, Clarence. A man down on earth needs our help.
Clarence: Splendid! Is he sick?
God: No. Worse. He's discouraged.

That line always gets me thinking...No. Worse. He's discouraged.  Are you feeling discouraged? This is such difficult time of year for so many of our kids. It can be hard not to be discouraged.
Kick that discouragement to the curb!
Take one day at a time. Can you get through today? If you don't know, can you get through the next hour?

Use positive self talk. When you catch yourself having negative conversations in your head turn them around. Such as "Things are never going to be better". Tell yourself. "It will be better"

Reframe the situation. When you feel discouraged visualize a big ugly picture frame around the situation. The frame is dscouragement, or loss of hope. Then picture a beautiful new frame: Encouragement and hope. Which way would you rather look at the situation. Which way will get you through? In other words, picture things differently and then believe it will happen.

Change something. Remember the old saying "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results"? Examine your parenting. Are there areas where this is true. Then change them up and try something different.
Anchoring:There are a couple of ways to take this. First of all, what is your anchor,your strength? Faith, family, a friend?  If you have none you are surely adrift. Find an anchor and hang on!
Anchoring is also a term used often for getting people out of internalizing. In other words, getting back out of your head.  Are you in the habit of spending much time over thinking, analyzing and worrying? Get back out of your head by using your 5 senses. Name things you can see, hear, taste, smell and feel. Enjoy the moment and focus on what is around you and don't allow yourself to go back "inside".
Storyboarding: Walk through the steps or think of a "story" of how this should look. This will help you work out problems that may come up. For example have a school Christmas party and you are worried about your child will handle it. Go through the steps involved in the party and work out a plan.
Mental Rehearsing. Practice it. Believe it. Practice positive responses to negative behavior.
Empowering beliefs: Believe you can do this. Know you can do this. Write it down and post it by your mirror because...You can do this. Believe your child will heal. Plan on it.
If you are discouraged, find encouragement in blogs, books, and good times out with friends. Don't make poor Clarence come back down here.

Having a Healing Christmas

Here are some ways that we found helpful in handling the Christmas season.
 Extended Family events:
Bring board games. Sit down BEFORE your kids get hyper and begin playing with them. It is great family fun and you will be surprised by how many other family members will want to join in.
Relax about Attachment style parenting and let the relatives be themselves. Conflict with family members will only drive a wedge between you and your child as they will side with the other family memer against you. So let it go. It will give people a chance to say what a great mom you are (and YOU ARE A GEAT MOM) and your child needs to hear that!
Serve even more healthy foods at home than usual. Then don't police their food every place else.
Think of your child during times when they are dysregulated as a very ill child. Provide peace and quiet. Play soft music. Serve them sugar free hot chocolate and snuggle them with blankets. Have them sit near you and play. Prepare a basket full of quiet activities and you can carry it into what ever room you are in for them to use. Paper, colored pencils, puzzles, puzzle books, books, cds and a cd player, legos are all quiet activites that are very relaxing.
Take the kids to your local Y and PLAY in the gym, the swimming pool or if they are older in the work out room. Have some time when they can expend some energy every day.
Focus on the meaning of Christmas and not on the gifts. Choose a needy family from one of the trees around town and have the kids help you buy them gifts. Have them help in choosing gifts for grandparents.
Have your home be as calming and comforting as possible.
Have a healing Christmas season.