Saturday, September 25, 2010

What do you do?

Every time MissArguePants closed her eyes last night at bedtime she saw the "bad people" who showed up at court yesterday -- who WEREN'T supposed to be there!

I ached for her. The loss and abandonment she was feeling was overwhelming. The pain was so obvious.

So was the disrespect and disobedience.

This is where foster parenting has got to be the hardest kind of parenting ever. I didn't know what to do. Somehow the deliberate defiance needs to be addressed. Even if all you do is let them know you're cutting them some slack because of all they've been through. I ached for her and I was angry all at the same time. I don't ask for much at bedtime. Only that cherubs stay in their bed and don't disturb others. You are welcome to turn on a small light and read books or simply sit quietly in your bed. The point is, people that want to sleep should be allowed to sleep.

MissArugePants had other ideas last night. So did TurtleTurtle for that matter. They were so incredibly scared.

If MissArguePants truly was MY little girl, I would have climbed into her bed with her and forced her to have some safe human contact. Or I would have picked her up and put her in the bathtub hoping that the feeling of warm water would help calm her body down. But she's only been in my home for 2 weeks and that would so not be appropriate in her case. Not to mention the face that legally I can't force her to do anything. If she says "No, I am not going to take a bath" I can't do a damn thing about it. I can try to come up creative consequences. But everything I was thinking of last night wouldn't take effect until today. She was so deep in the pain that she couldn't have cared less about today.

Right now the only thing the girls care about is whether or not they can play outside with their friend from across the street. I hate tossing out "you're grounded" for every infraction. I've got to become more creative somehow. It's so difficult though. Because again, I can't force them to do anything. If they don't want to do extra chores or write sentences the only thing I can think of is to say that they can't go outside. Neither girl is defiant enough that they would go outside and in a sense "run away". (At least I don't think they are.) So keeping them in is the simplest thing I can do. TV isn't that important and we don't watch it that much anyway. Video games are OK, but again, we don't play them that much anyway. I've got almost nothing that I can take away from them. As for adding things, I'm not a huge fan of behavior charts or things like that. I suppose I could give them a try. But how do I quantify something like disrespect (that they don't really seem to understand) so that they can put a sticker up for just "being good"? I hate the way that sounds. I'm spending all my energy trying to convince these two lovely ladies that they already are good no matter what happens!!!

Creative discipline ideas would be much appreciated.


jendoop said...

I'm not very good at behavior charts either, but I think that may be the way to go. Start simple - reward them for every act of obedience. If the chart is too much give them a piece of candy or a sticker. Immediate gratification may work well with them.

I think it could really help them understand that your home is about positive things.

God bless and good luck!

marythemom said...

Ooops! No idea how that happened! Sorry about the multiple posts!

Mary in TX

marythemom said...

We use the FAIR Club. It emphasizes making the child's world very small until they are ready to handle more. We have assigned seating, earlier bedtimes, no electronics, writing assignments (can be very, very short and simple and very much a logical consequence) and extra chores. The biggest part is that it doesn't require immediate compliance (important with my kids who have the equivalent of ODD). You can do it when you're ready... until then you're in the FAIR Club

Another thing to try is "time ins" - basically the child has to stay near you instead of trying to make them sit on a step or something. This gives you a chance to sit next to them breathing deeply and evenly. Listening and only talking in a calming tone.

Another thing to remember is absolutely nothing is going to work while they are still in "fight, flight, or freeze mode." It's as if there is no one home. At that point you can only try to keep them safe and avoid making it worse. After they calm down is the time to start quietly discussing consequences (if there are any).

We had to split our girls up. It was difficult, but we put them in separate rooms and they no longer triggered each other. Different bedtimes helped too (FAIR Club kids went to bed earlier, but also kids that got up well in the morning were demonstrating that they could handle a later bedtime). Our adopted daughter really needed that extra sleep time, and by having "room time" before bedtime we had some time we could use to spend time with each child individually.

You obviously know about bedtime routines being important, but we tried some additional stuff too. Warm bubble baths using bath wash that made you sleepy and relaxed (baby bath stuff if I remember right - had lavendar in it), warm milk, and songs or a story (they got to help personalize) sung/told in a monotonous calm voice with the lights off (light was on in the hall). We also allow night lights and have seriously thought about white noise machines. I wrote a post on How to Have Good Dreams that describes a little of this.

Anyway, hope that helps. I'd write more, but I think I wrote a novel already!

Mary in TX