Thursday, October 25, 2012

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Friday, May 25, 2012

Adoption Tuesday - Attachment.9

Oops! Meant to post this on Tues. Oh well. Here it is now....

Special Treatment
The topic of today's post is more related to general parenting than it is to RAD/attachment, however, I have found I use this concept more now that I have a RADish in the fold. It's about special treatment.

I know the trend today is equal treatment for all kids. If Suzie has a birthday, you'd better be sure little Johnny has something to open as well, so he doesn't feel left out. If McKenzie ran in the race on field day, she'd better get a medal for "participation", even if she finished middle of the pack.

Well, call me slow, but I've never caught on to this particular trend. I don't think we're doing this generation of kids any favors by letting them think "everyone's a winner". We're not. Some excel at running, some at art, some at cheer and others at math. And that's OK.

 On the flip side, some kids need a little extra help at things their peers find easy-peezy. That's alright, too. And what do we do with kids that need some extra help, and could easily get quite discouraged? We find ways to help motivate them.

I've always tried to teach my kids that fairness has a way of making the rounds. Your brother got some special reward/treat today? Great, let's be happy for him. That may be you next week. Or next month. Who knows?
Sometimes, one of the kids may need a little extra help to get through a tough section in their science class. Maybe I might reward them in some small way if they completed all their homework, and they studied, and they did passably well on the test.
 When the kids were little and one of them had to take a nasty course of antibiotics, I was no stranger to sticker charts to help motivate them, with a little prize at the end to reward them for getting through it.

Likewise, kids with RAD need extra help learning to be a part of a family. And I'd better not hear, "He gets a reward just for being nice? NO FAIR!" Because you know what? That doesn't come easy to him, and he needs a little help to learn how to do it. Just like the others, at different times, needed help learning to read, or keeping their room clean, or establishing the habit of using their agenda book in school, or using the potty, or anything else that might have been difficult or challenging at one time or another.

The list of things that a child with attachment issues or a history of trauma might have trouble with could include:
eye contact
appropriate physical boundaries
respectful language
putting forth effort in school
understanding the sense of a "family"
contributing to chores
resolving disputes in a controlled manner

I have no problem using incentives to help a child of mine learn these concepts. To me it is no different than any of the other examples I listed above. The hard part can be educating others (siblings, teachers, other family members, parents of friends) that there is no difference.

It should be this simple: Area of struggle (_____) for the child ---> help from parent in a way that will be meaningful for the child. I should be able to fill in any area of struggle into the blank, not just the ones people are used to seeing most commonly. Practice the trumpet? Clean your room? Say something nice to your sibling?
Help your children (and others, as needed) learn that it doesn't matter what area your child is struggling with. What matters is that you've identified it, and you are helping him or her in the best way you know how.

Previous posts on Attachment:
Attachment The Attachment Tree
Attachment.2 I Love You
Attachment.3 Keck and Kupecky
Attachment.4 Control
Attachment.5 Cycles
Attachment.6 Consequences
Attachment.7 Add It On
Attachment.8 - Attachment Activities


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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Adoption Tuesday - Attachment.8

Ruh-Roh. I meant to post this yesterday... I thought I would post a list of some simple activities you could do with your adopted child to foster attachment. As with any advice you read on caring for a traumatized child, know your child, be aware of the ways in which he or she was traumatized in the past, and know what could be unsettling for him now. For instance, the staring contest is a game I used to play with Julie back in Kazakhstan, and it was helpful and fun. I would hesitate to use this same game with James. So, just use your judgement. Staring Game Sit across from your child, holding hands, and stare at each other. You can play till the first person blinks, but I prefer till the first person laughs. Laughing, of course, gets those endorphins flowing, but trying to keep from blinking makes me feel like I'm going to cry. This game, obviously, encourages eye contact, but it's also just plain fun.
Hair Brushing This works a bit better with girls, of course, but taking turns brushing each other's hair is a wonderful attachment activity. For that matter, painting each other's fingernails and toenails is, too. As an aside, for my girls who were afraid of dogs when they first came home to us, I found if they could brush the dogs, they became more comfortable and less afraid of them. Telling Stories This activity works great one on one in the car. I remember driving James to his therapist appointments, and he would say to me, "Tell me a story." He always wanted a story about me; my childhood, especially. In the beginning I would tell him one after the other, but then I started exacting a toll: for each story I told, he needed to tell me one from his past. We learned a lot about each other on those car trips. Back Scratches Scratching each other's backs is a very nice, non-threatening way to get that extra touch in, especially for any children who might be uncomfortable/sensitive to soft touch. It can be done above the shirt if they're not able to handle skin-to-skin contact. If there's no history of sexual abuse, you can move on to include massage, but always start with something deep, like shoulder rubs, and see how they tolerate it. Rocking I know for small children, it is often recommended that you take some time to sit them in your lap, rock them, and actually feed them a bottle. While I understand the theory behind this, it always weirded me out a bit. However, I still think there's incredible value to be found in rocking a child in your lap. I've done this with all my adopted kids, and they were nearly six, 10, and nearly 14 when they arrived home. Now, with the older ones, we started this acivity more like a joke, and it was just a silly thing they could laugh at, but when the giggles subsided, I could feel them melt into me as I hummed a soft tune and petted their hair. There is no place of comfort like a Mama's lap. Hope these help.... Previous posts on Attachment: Attachment The Attachment Tree Attachment.2 I Love You Attachment.3 Keck and Kupecky Attachment.4 Control Attachment.5 Cycles Attachment.6 Consequences Attachment.7 Add it on. Image courtesy: Don't forget, I am now posting daily on my blog Life on the Funny Farm. Come on over! Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Adoption Tuesday - Attachment.7

This is just a quick little tip. As I've mentioned before, kids with RAD tend to love control. There's good reason for it, to be sure, but nonetheless it can be a difficult trait to live with. One way my boy has used control has been to try to lord over his siblings, making sure they don't get a minute past their bedtime, an extra scoop of ice cream in their bowl, dessert when they haven't eaten their dinner, well, the list goes on and on, but I'm sure you get the picture. When he goes through these phases, he is constantly "on", watching for any and all infractions. He is the fairness police, and comes to me with every little thing. It gets everyone all stirred up, and any semblance of harmony flies right out the window. And so I found a little trick that works wonders. Because, you know, simply telling him to mind his own business, or not worry about it, or to relax and let me worry about got us positively NOwhere. What I do when he gets like this, is "add it on". If he's upset that Rosie is staying up past her bedtime, Rosie simply gets to stay up even later. Daniel is taking too much ice cream? Here, Daniel, have a little more. Patrick has been on xbox too long? Take an extra 15, Patrick.
He learns pretty quickly to let things be, and let me take care of it, because it makes him crazy for them to get even more of what they already had "too much" of. When we first started using this trick, it made things worse for a little while, but he eventually learned the drill, and nowadays the fairness police is taking it easy. Previous posts on Attachment: Attachment The Attachment Tree Attachment.2 I Love You Attachment.3 Keck and Kupecky Attachment.4 Control Attachment.5 Cycles Attachment.6 Consequences Image courtesy: Don't forget, I am now posting daily on my blog Life on the Funny Farm. Come on over! Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adoption Tuesday - Attachment.6

Consequences When I was a newbie to RAD, I was pretty clueless about how to handle giving consequences to my son. What had always worked for me with my other kids absolutely did not work with him. Although I sort of knew the 'why' behind it namely, control it didn't make it any easier to navigate my way through the stormy seas I was sailing through. You parents out there, you know the drill when it comes to disciplining your child... Back sass? Hand over your phone. Refuse to pitch in for chores? Give me your DS. Pick a fight with your brother? Go to your room. Ummm, no. Can't take from him, can't make him. Even a couple years ago he was bigger than I was. And even if he wasn't? No amount of me trying to lord over him was going to be met with compliance. No way in hell. Only made him dig in deeper, and I always found myself looking like the ineffectual idiot that I was. That is, till my good friend Dee offered me some advice. See, she was going through roughly the same thing as I was, only she had more experience as well as more actual book knowledge in these matters than I. What she advised was to not threaten to remove privileges or give extra chores, or anything else that involved some level of cooperation from him. She reminded me that there are always favors our kids want from us, and that withholding favors, as simple as it sounds, was the most effective way to give consequences. So if my child was disrespecting me, I learned not to get all angry and start telling him he was going to have extra chores or no phone or anything else that could result in a power struggle, but to simply let him know that when he treats me disrespectfully and unkindly, it makes me feel like I do not want to help him out, or to do nice things for him. The ride to his friend's house he was hoping for? Not gonna happen. That special snack he likes me to make? Don't much feel like making that anymore. Not in a nanny-nanny-foo-foo kind of way, but in a simply stated, when you're not kind to me and to others in the family, I'm left not wanting to do nice things for you, or to help you out. That has helped me tremendously.
There's another trick I've learned, too, but it's late. I think I'll save that one for next week. I should also say that I know I had talked earlier about consequences that involve the cooperation of the child (like handing over a phone or doing extra chores). There is a time in your child's progress where that can work, and James (and I) are reaching it. In the past, we could not go there, and I needed to really learn to scale things back to the extremely simplified method above. Only very gradually can you introduce discipline in which the child struggling with RAD can take part in voluntarily giving up a privilege, or taking on a chore. Know your child, and tread lightly when moving forward. Sorry I did things kind of out of order, but I hadn't really planned this series out in terms of what and when I would introduce concepts. In other words, I'm flying by the seat of my pants here, so please bear with me. If you want to revisit any of the topics in attachment I've already covered, here are the links: Attachment The Attachment Tree Attachment.2 I Love You Attachment.3 Keck and Kupecky Attachment.4 Control Attachment.5 Cycles Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers! Don't forget, I am now posting daily on my blog Life on the Funny Farm. Come on over! Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote!
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