Category Archives: Orphan mentality

Differences in the ways Orphans or former orphans often think and perhaps behave due to a background of trauma, neglect, brain damage, etc.

Is Your Child ELASTIC?

We know that something that’s elastic like a rubber band will, when stretched, return back to its normal state afterward.  That is the very nature of being elastic, the tendency to return to a normal state of being.  But what does that have to do with my child you may ask (?).

A securely attached child would feel uneasy and tend to seek to return to normal, having had a conflict with their parent, such as a reprimand or correction, a difference of opinion, a blow-up over a misunderstanding or disappointment over unmet or misplaced expectations perhaps.  This child might initiate an apology or “get over” a sour attitude and re-join family activities after a short time of sulking and re-grouping.  They may approach the parent for comfort and get assurance that the parent-child relationship is still intact.

The actual term is to “re-attune”.  I think of a piano out of tune that needs to be tuned in order to have the keys sound the correct notes when played, so the music is pleasant to the ear.

But if our children are NOT securely attached, they may not re-attune very readily and may tend instead to stay stuck in an out-of-tune position.  An ingrained fear of adults can keep them from seeking out reconnection like a limp rubber band that’s lost its elasticity.

“As our children are often fearful of adults and may have had negative experiences, it is almost impossible for them to ‘re-attune” to the parent following an incident” says Sarah Naish in The A-Z of Therapeutic Parenting:  Strategies and Solutions.

She adds,

“A child who is fearful of adults, or overwhelmed with shame, is entirely unable to make the first move and will remain stuck, defensive and sad.”

This causes me to pause and recognize what big steps there have been for a couple of my children to initiate apologies recently, and to recognize that their steps of reconnecting, though they may look minor on the outside, are really so huge for them!

Recognizing this, I’d love to grab them up and bear hug them.  For one it would be ok perhaps – – except he’s asleep now and would jump out of his skin if startled!  For the other, it would push her away.  Note to self: Tread lightly, mama – – I am still learning!

I have to keep telling myself, it’s not about me.  It really isn’t.  It’s not about you, either.  They may not even understand it either.  But sometimes we may represent all the adults that have ever hurt them previously, and their brains just cannot – –  in that moment – – discern that we are safe.

But we can wait.  We can wait until their brains catch up and catch on.  Because that’s what we do as parents who love our children even when it’s hard.  Even when they don’t understand it or don’t believe it.

And with God, we can be patient and wait it out because we know that God is working it all out for good.

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose”  Romans 8:28

Comment and let me know if this is something that you deal with in your family.  I’d love to hear any tips you have for reconnecting and keeping the door of invitation open to re-attuning with your children.

Independence Overload!

Does your child with a trauma history seem to go to ridiculous extremes to avoid accepting your offers of help?  Do they seem to value independence over relationship?  I can relate.  And it can be maddening to deal with!!!

When they seem set upon personal failure in order to avoid compliance or obligation to anyone, it can be hard to watch them fail.  But failing forward may be the best teacher.  They choose not to participate in a family activity?  They miss out – – but it is set up in a way that they aren’t going to ruin it for the rest of the family.  And hopefully, they can do it with room to come back around.  I think sometimes my kids dig themselves into a hole and don’t know how to jump out – – how to change gears.

This type of planning takes some thought.  Birthdays, holidays and any type of celebration can bring on negative reactivity from some of our children.  By keeping plans low-key and flexible I am able to make adjustments to avoid their controlling (and ruining) the celebration time for everyone else.

For instance, for our daughter’s birthday, I was keenly aware that she had been incredibly oppositional and was apt to opt out.  It turned out that we had several in the family with accomplishments that were worthy of celebrating so I planned a family outing (we are party-sized without additional guests) to celebrate all of them including her birthday at the same time.  She was teetering on not going to the restaurant at absolute last minute.  We didn’t beg or bribe but allowed for her to stay if she wanted.  I told her she would still receive her present and we would bring food home for her if she chose.  Earlier in the day, I had given her a heads up so it wasn’t a surprise, and when she started in negative, just told her she didn’t have to decide right then, that it would be that evening and she had all day to decide what she wanted to do.  Either way was OK.  I think that was key.  She ended up going after all.

Of course, our disappointment or disapproval of the behavior sometimes shows, but be aware that what they may hear is that you are rejecting THEM, unaccepting of them — not just the behavior but the person underneath.  Because of this tendency, efforts to pressure them to change behavior by showing disapproval backfires.  The more you explain how wrong or hurtful their behavior is, the more they internalize rejection.  (So why do I keep doing it??? Insanity, I know!)  They really do want to please and gain your approval. (I know . . . REALLY!)

As we move full force into the Christmas season, I’m reminded of lessons learned; the “normal” separation and independence-seeking of my children given their ages; and the over-the-top independence that comes from their backgrounds.

The need for family and togetherness that is often at the heart of this season cannot be taken for granted.  It is there, but often under the surface of an outward stance of fierce independence which is fearful of depending on anyone else for anything, no matter how small.  Fearful of being/appearing vulnerable.  We can help them.  Help them anyway.  We can chisel away at the fierce exterior – – a little at a time – – here and there – – over time.  And allow their independence, their confident independence to grow past the fake independence that is a cover for their fear of being hurt.

Setting personal boundaries and keeping expectations flexible in the midst of progress toward relational goals is my go-to mindset for this season especially.

How about you?  I’d love to read your comments on how you are planning to navigate the holidays!

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Kids from hard places can have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent, I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them helpful tools.

I’ve gotten some great result in my own family since I’ve begun using premium essential oils.  Among the many benefits, they can make a big difference in dealing with overwhelming emotions, focus, and sleep.  

 

Hit Reply (if you are reading this in e-mail) or Contact in the menu above (if you are on the website) with “video” in your message to learn more about our premium essential oils and related products that you may want to add to your parenting toolbox.  

I’ll send you a short introductory video and then follow up to see what you think.  No Spam 🙂

 

Thanks for stopping by!

Dawn

Discovered, Taught, Built or Attained?

Our identities.

Are they discovered, taught, built or attained?  Finding myself, figuring out what makes me tick, discovering who I am . . . sound familiar?  Is this really how our identity is forged?  Or is our identity something we learn from our parents and others who teach us “where we come from”?  Are you a “self-made man” (or woman)?  Is your identity something you build for yourself?  And once you have found, learned of or built your identity is that it?  Or is it something that is fluid and changes over time. And is there something of your identity “out there” to attain?

Most people tend to have questions about their identity at some point in their life (or many points).  Those who have been orphans may question their identities even more.  As parents and caregivers what can we do to help them?  As to the questions above, I think all of the above would be my answer.  And each can form a part of the identity quest.

Let’s take them one at a time.

Discover

Kids can discover a lot about themselves and begin to have a sense of their own identity as separate from others as a baby when they acquire the ability to comprehend and understand object permanence.  Ever play peek-a-boo with a baby?  They are learning that even when they don’t see your face, you still exist and will return.  As kids continue to learn and grow and develop their own sense of self – – what they like and don’t like, how they are different from others around them and have different needs and desires at times they are discovering some of their identity.  We can help them clue in to their favorites and their special talents and strengths.

Teach

As we teach them about their heritage, culture and family values we are teaching identity as well.  We can help our kids to connect with these aspects of their identity.  We can help them to understand that while there are good points as well and negatives in their backgrounds, that there are many parts of the fabric of their identity that are woven together in a unique way.  We can help them to learn about positive aspects and how even negatives can provide opportunities to rise above.

Build

It is important to help our children to understand that their identities are not soley made up of things that are out of their control.  They can build into their identities as well.  Choices they make, big and small, build into their character and lead them into who they are becoming.

Attain

1 John 3:1-2
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him. Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.

Helping our children to understand and embrace how God views them and their identity as children of God (and how to enter into his forever family) is the best way to help them in the identity quest.  Identifying themself as a child of God, just as they may embrace their identity in their new adopted family, is both a present identity and a future attainment.  It is ours now, and will be fully ours in the future.

What are your thoughts on the quest for identity and how we can help our children.  I welcome your comments.

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Kids from hard places can have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent, I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them helpful tools.

I’ve gotten some great result in my own family since I’ve begun using premium essential oils.  Among the many benefits, they can make a big difference in dealing with overwhelming emotions, focus and sleep.

Hit Reply (if you are reading this in e-mail) or Contact in the menu above (if you are on the website) with “essential emotions” in your message to learn more about our premium essential oils and related products that you may want to add to your parenting toolbox.  I’ll send you a short video and then follow up to see what you think.

Yes to God’s Plans

Question:  Are you attempting to live out YOUR PLANS for your life or GOD’S PLANS?  

If your own plans, then why would you expect God to honor them?  . . . Really.

At least are your plans in accordance with his Word?  If not, perhaps some re-evaluation is in order.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.
Do not be wise in your own  eyes;
fear the Lord and depart from evil.” — Proverbs 3:5-7
If GOD’S PLANS . . .  how are you doing?

 

Ephesians 5:15 tells us “be very careful, then, how you live — not as unwise but as wise” and the entire theme of the little book of Haggai is repeated again and again in the phrase, “consider your ways”.

 

As parents, we sometimes give our children warnings of what their behavior may lead to if they do not change it.  Obviously, this is not a doom and gloom prophecy of the future, but an attempt to have them consider their ways and the likely outcomes SO THAT they will change their ways before it’s too late to avoid negative outcomes.  

 

Correction.

 

Correction is hard for us to take as humans.  Some of us take it harder than others. It may be that with our adopted children especially, they need some careful building up in order to not be crushed by correction, or hardened by it.  

 

O.Bible.org, in their lesson on the Ministry of Correction from the series on I Timothy,  says that

“as a rule, the most effective correction takes place when the other person knows from experience that you love him.” (See the full lesson here.)  

I think this is true with corrections from people as well as from God, himself!  When we know and feel like we are loved and accepted, correction may sting but we will be less likely to ignore it or rail against it!   

With adopted/foster/stepchildren (and sometimes even biological children) there may be a lingering question in their mind as to whether they are fully loved and accepted, at least at times.  And so correction may feel more like overt rejection to them!

God gives warnings and consequences in order that we will consider our ways – –  not give up thinking we have no hope – – but consider our ways so we can course-correct while there IS HOPE! With my children, I need to help them understand that correction is just that, an invitation and an opportunity to course-correct given out of love. And I need to accept God’s correction with that same understanding.

The book of Ezra gives us a ministry model and an example of how to continue God’s work under pressure.

I’ll share my outline with you, hoping it helps you as much as it is helping me in a variety of areas not the least of which is parenting when it is difficult:

EZRA

I.  God directs the outworking of God’s plan.  

(Whether your ministry is rebuilding the Holy Temple as here, building a ministry for orphans overseas, or your ministry role in your own family.)

  1. God moved the heart of the King.  

    (He can move hearts of those – – whether Christ-followers or not – – who have earthly authority in our lives.)

  2. God moved the hearts of his people.  

    (He is the one who moves hearts, not me – – not you.  We must not think we are the ones who are responsible for another person’s heart or resulting beliefs and behavior.  We are responsible to God. He moves their hearts. I am no-one’s Holy Spirit and I must not become a stumbling block for them.)

  3. God built the team.

     (I don’t have to do the job by myself, nor do I have to stress over the needed help, and neither do you!  God can bring just the right partners at just the right time.)

  4. God provided the resources as the people acted in steps of obedience.

     (We don’t have to have all the necessary resources in our possession to begin.  Steps of obedience show faith in God’s provision on an as needed basis.)

  5. God brought team unity.

     (When there is dis-unity the work is thwarted.  God is the great mediator and can bring conflict resolution when we submit to him.)

  6. God provided housing accommodations, plus time to settle in.

    ( He provides for our basic needs so we can relax and fully depend on him, trusting that there is enough time and enough for our basic needs to be met in order that we are able to move forward in the work in the place where he puts us!)

II. God is FIRST!  He is to be honored in first place above all.

(My family or other ministry or work is not first – – God is!)

  1. Altar built first – – before the other work began.
  2. Regular times of worship were held as well as special celebrations – – Times of worship and refreshment are necessary!
    1. Regular sacrifices were made, despite fears about dangers from surrounding people.
    2. Holy Day Celebrations were held.
    3. Praise Celebration was held at 1st milestone.
    4. Dedication and Celebration at the completion of the work.
III.  Work is done orderly.  

(While people, kids, even I may balk at rules and routines, it is the orderly way that wins the day.)

  1.  Time for planning and preliminary arrangements.
    1. Chain of command was established.
    2. God gave discernment of whom to partner with.
IV.  Opposition to God’s Work – – Expect It!

(I must not be surprised at opposition or let it dictate my course!  Kids will push back! So will others. I must be prepared and focused on my goals – – God’s goals for my work, whether it’s parenting my special needs children or other work.)

  1. Extreme opposition
  2. Lengthy delay
  3. Perseverance
  4. Patience with readiness and Attentiveness to God’s Guidance (not always apparent to outsiders)
  V.  God Turns OPPOSITION into OPPORTUNITY & BLESSING on His People & His Work
  1. Bravery to obey God & resume the work
  2. Tactful honesty to authority & trusting God
  3. God’s Favor
  4. Work completed with God’s Favor & blessing (Yes!  There is a time of completion awaiting and this work will be a done deal.  Another phase of life will open up. The long-range view can help with perspective on days when you feel bogged down.)  

 

RECAP:  

*God directs the outworking of HIS PLANS!  

*Honor God FIRST!  

*God is ORDERLY and his work is to be done orderly.  

*EXPECT OPPOSITION to God’s work.

*Remember, God turns opposition into OPPORTUNITY and BLESSING on his people and his work.  

 

Gods Plans – -> God First – -> Godly Order – -> Opposition – -> Opportunity & Blessing

 

Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”
– – Proverbs 16:3
KEY:  For us to stay in this trajectory we must continue to take steps of faithful obedience all along the way.  What is God asking you to do in faithful obedience today?  

You may not feel prepared, ready, eager, or confident.  You may not have a clear path. There may be obstacles and opposition.  You may feel fear and trembling! You may not understand why God has “allowed” something that seems way out of line to your way of thinking.  

Take the step anyway. — Trust Him. — Then . . . CELEBRATE!  Celebrate when you look back and are able to see more clearly how HIS plan has been set in place and fulfilled.

I hope this peek into my Bible study has been helpful to you.  Parenting is hard. Parenting kids from trauma backgrounds is extremely hard.  We can work hard and feel like we aren’t making any progress. Or worse, going backward.  

I encourage you to #1 make sure your plans are God’s plans, and #2 consider in what ways you may need to course-correct.  Then #3 take a step of obedience  – – Today.


 

Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent, I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them helpful tools.  We have begun using some fantastic natural products in our family that make a big difference in helping kids cope with overwhelming emotions, to manage and focus.

Hit Reply (e-mail) or Contact me above or below (blog) if you want to learn more about our toxin-free natural-based personal care products and dietary supplements and how they can help your family, too.

 

Ally on Their Side

Friends.  Allies.  We all need them.

For my kiddos from an orphanage background, the drive for peer friendships and allies is possibly even stronger in them as well as more difficult for them.  The elements of trust and empathy (ability to understand another person’s perspective) have been missing to a large degree for some of them.  Add in additional delays in social skills and the need for allies, either within the family or outside can come to have a lot of anxiety attached because of the deep fear of rejection that has been imprinted on them from a young age.  As they reach adolescence it gets even more complex.

The need for an ally is so strong at times that (1) they may repel an alliance by going overboard (with hugs for instance); (2) they may self-sabotage from fear of getting too close or getting rejected; (3) they may be willing to “do anything” for this relationship, leading to endangering themselves and/or others.

Helping them navigate the need for friendship and find an ally (or preferably a few) may take more work.  Throw in mistrust of parents or adults in general and it can be even trickier.  What many children learn through trial and error may need to be shown more overtly.  At the same time, they may need help to them un-learn harmful patterns of thinking and behavior.  Establish clear boundaries early on as a given, not as a punishment or judgment on their new friend.  (Example:  “We don’t entertain non-family friends in the bedrooms.” It has nothing to do with this friend or what their family allows.  It has nothing to do with right or wrong.)  Save the rationale for another time.  It will be easier for them to learn from an objective stance than when embroiled in the struggle to hang out with their friend behind closed doors in this example.

Show rather than tell.  Showing our kids through our own relationships the basics as well as the more complex aspects of having a deep friendship, an ally is the way they may learn best.  This will take intentionally pointing out the basics, such as what we are thinking and why we do this and that in a way that seems less teach-y and more casual.

Especially in adolescence adults may be seen as unreliable.  It’s up to us to show them how relationships can be forged and maintained through thick and thin.  Talk about how we are doing in our own relationships, about our feelings and how we interpret the other person’s feelings in an effort to understand, if not agree, and about our commitment and efforts to move forward.

Our kids need to know:  How do you show acceptance of the other person, even in the midst of disagreement or disappointment?  How do you find an ally – – be a good ally.  Accept others.  Show them that you accept them and understand that they might have different wants/needs/opinions/beliefs than you and that’s ok.

Proverbs 18:24 New King James Version (NKJV)

A man who has friends must himself be friendly,
But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.”

In adolescence, it seems kids may go backward.  They seem often to be toddlers in the bodies of teens.  Rather than thinking of them as young adults (“you should be able to . . .”), perhaps in the emotional/social area we can understand them as large toddlers (“I understand how you feel; let’s think about what you can do next; I can think of these options – can you think of anything else?”)  Having a long-range view can also help our parenting mindset as we navigate emotional flare-ups of our kids.  The road to maturity is a long one.  And take care to take care of your other relationships.  They are learning from you.

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent, I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them helpful tools.  We have begun using some fantastic natural products in our family that make a big difference in helping kids cope with overwhelming emotions, to manage and focus.

I’d be happy to fill you in if you think you’d be interested in finding out more.  Click on Contact me above and let me know you want to learn more about our toxin-free natural-based personal care products and dietary supplements.

 

Child-Like or Childish?

It’s normal for children to be both, child-like as well as childish.  In fact, it’s their nature. It is odd when a child behaves more like a little adult in ways that are highly age-inappropriate.  “Childish” connotes a negative comparison to a young child such as with a teenager who throws a tantrum like might be more expected in a two-year-old.  Yet being child-like in certain ways is a positive thing, even for adults at times. We are taught that to have a child-like faith is a good thing, with the trust and wonder and awe of children directed toward our Savior, Jesus Christ.  

 

Matthew 18:3

“And he said: ‘Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.'”

 

Being around children can often help us adults reclaim the child-like view that is so invigorating.  

Yet children are also inherently childish.  These are more negative traits that we might expect they would “grow out of” as children get older and prior to adulthood.  Yet being taught and trained is part of the work of adults as is being teachable the work of children.  Childishness is (1) expected of children, but not always desirable and (2) to be understood as normal yet not permanent in normal development.  Even in delayed development, we should work to help children put away the negative childishness to the extent that they are able.  

1 Corinthians 13:11

” When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

With once orphans, children from hard places as it were, the teachable part may be severely lacking.  So remaining childish long after one would expect these traits to be gone or at least greatly diminished, some children display behaviors more typical of much younger children for much longer.  Alternatively, they may exhibit attitudes and behaviors more fitting to a much older person. It is sometimes said that their emotional age and chronological age do not match. This can be a helpful way to look at it when trying to interact with, be more understanding and helpful to one of the children with social/emotional delays.  And though you may then take a different approach, similar to how you would with a much younger child, I think it is similarly important to remember the goal of helping them gain the emotional maturity and social appropriateness that they are missing out on. The danger lies in allowing their delays, gaps or disabilities to be an excuse for not progressing to the degree and at the level that they are able.

 

Rather than having an all or nothing approach adults in the child’s life need to be aware of the limitations and make needed adjustments in their approach to discipline and training.  Plus: Re-adjustments may need to be made frequently as well, as you reassess how the child is doing and as new situations and opportunities come up. Though it is a lot of work, this type of thorough planning with all the adults in the child’s circle may help tremendously.  It will not be a magic wand and will sometimes seem insufficient. Dealing with the persistent childishness of children who are much older can wear down an adult parent, teacher or caregiver and instead of enjoying the child-like view alongside them we may get cynical and despondent, going through the motions without much felt connection or even more childish ourselves mirroring their behaviors.

 

Having homeschooled for many, many years we are just getting into the world of IEPs with the school system, but my understanding is that this is the place to bring up these type issues and collaborate on strategies to incorporate into a workable plan for each child in the school setting.  As a homeschooler, I have also prepared personal IEPs for our own private use which addresses emotional and developmental concerns and a plan to incorporate specific strategies for each child. I recommend doing an assessment regularly as well, for school as well as regarding home and other settings as they may differ considerably.  Medical issues may contribute and overlap significantly with any emotional/social/ behavioral issues and your plans may need to be made with input from your medical practitioners.

 

A daily journal (paper or digital) can track patterns and be a good memory jogger for assessment time.  Planning how to respond to repetitive behaviors can help parents and caregivers be prepared and also to learn what strategies work best.  

 

There is a whole lot of advice, some good and some not so good, and some just might not be the right fit or best timing for your and your child’s current needs.  List some to try out and give it a go for a set time then reassess.

 

A few examples to start with:

Concerning behavior: Child often tantrums when they are faced with unexpected changes.

Childish or Child-like: Depending on age and degree of behavior this behavior could be normal developmentally or not.  It may be childish or simply child-like in that young children have a more limited understanding and may not have expected a change (like a change in routine for a holiday) that an older person likely would.  Thinking about the root of the behavior can give more clues, but that may remain a mystery and you are left with guesswork. My suggestion is to assume it is child-like at first and respond with strategies aimed at helping them developmentally to deal with the changes while preventing the tantrum by better preparation and understanding ahead of time.

Trial Strategy:  Does your child need a lot of prep time or a little?  Test how much is enough and how much is too much. Do they need help with breaking down the steps of the transition (“time to clean up and go” becomes “let’s get ready to go in a few minutes.  You can begin by putting these toys on the shelf. Would you like me to help you? I will have your coat ready when you are done putting the toys away. Then we can say goodbye”).

When there are transitions that are unexpected even to the adult, having thought through what your child needs will help think on your feet and give help rather than get caught up in reacting to their tantrum. When changes are unexpected to the adult, let the child know that you wish you could have let them know sooner and assure them they can handle it while calmly helping them as much as possible talking them through each step matter of factly (“That’s a surprise that the restaurant is closed for remodeling but there is another one nearby we can eat at.  You will have a choice of burgers instead of pizza. If I had known I would have told you sooner but that’s life. I know you like pizza but we can all eat burgers today.”)

 

Concerning behavior:  Child demonstrates lack of social appropriateness

Childish or Child-like:  Again, it may be either or both.  Children are not little adults and have a different level of what is appropriate in their eyes.  (Burping contests may be appropriate between a couple of 10-year olds but not for their dad’s business meeting).  

Trial Strategy:  If they are simply not catching on, then more deliberate modeling and being more deliberate to draw their attention to appropriate conduct may be a good strategy.  Using role play and having them actually act out the appropriate behavior can give them practice and confidence. Pick one or two areas such as greetings and introductions to work on and then review every so often as needed.

 

Concerning behavior:  Difficulty connecting the dots, does not connect cause and effect

Childish or Child-like:  It may be child-like even in an older child whose capability to connect cause and effect is developmentally delayed due to trauma or other causes.  It may be due to mistrust or a real lack of understanding.

Trial strategy:  Communicate consequences clearly and closely relate consequences to the reason for it.  (Example – “Good job” becomes “You followed directions and completed your assignment without any errors” and “You should know better” becomes “I am disappointed that you chose to hit instead of getting an adult’s help.  You hit, you sit until I decide you may join us again.”)

 

Letting go of the “should’s” enough to deal with the current state of things doesn’t mean we don’t work to help things get better with and for our children.  But it does help us step back and assess how things really are, get a grip, and set up a workable plan to move forward. Children are children, not little adults, yet constantly helping them in moving toward adulthood while enjoying their childhood and is a good goal to keep in mind.  While managing difficult behaviors can be a huge accomplishment, we need to be careful that we are facilitating our children’s move through developmental stages to mature as well as they can rather than staying stuck.  Just because a delay is there doesn’t mean that one day it won’t just click and be a huge leap of progress in an area you had been working on for some time.  Reviving your positive, child-like qualities can model a positive outlook for your child and help you both.

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them helpful tools.  We have begun using some fantastic natural products in our family that make a big difference in helping kids cope with overwhelming emotions, to manage and focus.

I’d be happy to fill you in if you think you’d be interested in finding out more.  Click on Contact me above and let me know you want to learn more about our toxin-free natural-based personal care products and dietary supplements.

Remaining Calm in the Storm

With children from hard places, there are many who are triggered into rages rather than the typical childhood and teen behaviors such as tantrums and sulking which are unpleasant to deal with but not generally dangerous. In talking with experts about best practices in dealing with extreme behaviors the key is always for the parent (the adult) to remain calm in the midst of the meltdown/rage/storm. It sounds so simple, so . . . logical.

BUT . . . HOW?

Of course, we should be the adult, the one in control when they have apparently lost it. But imagine you are in the midst of a tornado. You remain calm, mostly, and then it is over and you are able to assess the damage and realize no one is hurt badly and there is just a bit of material damage. Then the next day, another tornado. And another after a couple more days. You start wondering each day if there will be a tornado today and brace for the coming storm. Your nerves get a little shaky when the winds howl. You are still cleaning up (and healing) from the previous storms and wondering how much more you can take of this before something gives. At this point, remaining calm may be a stretch.

Prayer and Faith that God is in control and is working ALL things out for good is key for me.

Romans 8:28
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

In addition, I’ve come up with this list to help me focus on remaining calm in the midst of the storms and realize that it will blow over.  Perhaps it will help you as well.

C. A. L. M.     M. O. M.

C. Self-CONTROL & CONFIDENCE (not reactive)
A. Look AWAY (not in their eyes) & ACKNOWLEDGE their frustration
L. LESS talk. (Wait ’til later)
M. MODEL better behavior & posture & calm with a MATTER-OF-FACT voice that communicates “everything is okay.
M. Get them MOVING with me (if do-able within safe limits) walking, jumping, dancing, etc.
O. OPT OUT if violent or verbally abusive (safety first)
M. ReMOVE myself, others, possible weapons/projectiles away for everyone’s safety.

For [C] I wanted to remind myself to show my own self-control and my own confidence so that it does not appear that I am out of control to my child or others.  If they perceive that I am out of control in the least, or that they have “pushed my buttons” it validates the mistrust of my attachment disordered children.

For [A] I want to acknowledge their frustration if possible.  I need to do this whether it seems to sink in or not.  Look away means I do not need to push them to look me in the eye during their storm/rage/meltdown, which puts added pressure on them (though it comes across as highly disrespectful to me).  I may need to sit/stand beside them instead of in front of them to avoid looking directly into their face.  If they are able to hide their eyes as part of self-calming I want to recognize that that is okay for now.

[L] is a tough one for me because I want to talk them through it and get to the bottom of whatever is at the root of the disturbance.  (Can you imagine trying to discuss with a tornado what caused such a disturbance?)  Less talk is something that is difficult for me and may need to be zero talk to keep me from opening the floodgates, making matters worse.

[M] is similar to [C] above, in that I remind myself to be the adult and model better behavior to the child/teen.  Not only do I want to avoid anything that could be perceived as a lack of confidence and self-control, but I want to overtly speak and act in a way that they may copy, such as speaking matter-of-factly with an un-shakeable, assured tone, one that assumes everything is or will be okay.  Not dismissing their frustration or upset but not entering into the fray with them, either.  This is a detached sort of stance that is new to me but may be more tolerable for my attachment disordered children.

[O] is Opt Out, and may pre-empt strategies that require the child or teen’s cooperation to a degree, like taking a walk. When they are violent or verbally abusive I need to be able to disengage in order to keep my calm and safety, and to model healthy boundaries.  This is not a time to talk them through anything or try to reason with them.

The last [M] is another “Move” – – “Re-Move myself and others, along with items that could be used as weapons or projectiles for everyone’s safety.  Not only in the midst of the storm, but in preparation for future storms items may need to be secured and a safety plan for other children in the home, as well as the one with the extreme behavior, parents and pets can be made.  It may seem extreme and out of the ordinary to make a safety plan for when a child or teen is exhibiting extreme behavior, but it is a precaution that can be necessary for everyone’s safety.

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I compiled the above tips for myself in preparing to deal with my own attachment disordered children.  Your children certainly may have different types of behaviors and needs, requiring different strategies from you.

I have found that taking care of myself is key to being able to handle the stresses of an emotionally challenged child or teen who sometimes has extreme behaviors.  Many things have helped, including the use of naturally calming essential oils that are available from Oils for Orphans.  Feel free to contact me for more information on ways they might benefit you.