Thursday, October 28, 2010

Beyond Consequences

Whenever I have a less than stellar parenting moment with one of our foster daughters, I usually end up getting sucked into the blogosphere. I click through from one foster/adoption blog to another. Sometimes I just want validation that I'm not crazy. Sometimes I want specific tips and tricks. I have gone through a lot of training - both formal and on my own. But when I'm knee deep (waist deep, neck deep) in parenting trauma, it seems I forget all that I've learned. When my girls trigger me...well...they trigger me! And then I'm just as mad as they are. Not a good combination.

Most of the time I would say my big triggers have to do with attacks on my character. I can't help but take it personally when they call me a liar. Or when they say I love one child more than another. Or when they say this isn't a safe house to live in. Or when they accuse me of any other atrocity. Usually, these accusations are screamed and then the defiance sets in. The girls (especially MissArguePants) will yell and scream at me about something. Then they will immediately refuse to do whatever it is I'm asking of them.

I came across this information today. It's from the book Beyond Consequences. I have yet to read the book myself (it's on order and should be in my house within a week or so). I've heard nothing but good things about it and I'm anxious to sink my teeth into the entire book.

Anyway, I'm thinking I need to print this out snippet that I ran across today in huge letters and hang it somewhere where I can read it over and over.

Remember that defiance:
  • Is grounded in fear - it is a fear reaction. (yep)
  • It is preceded by a fear response. (yep)
  • Can move quickly to aggression if fed with more fear. (yep)
  • Happens when a child perceives a request as a threat, even the simplest of requests. (Oh holy heck does this happen a lot in our house)
  • Is predictable in four areas for children with trauma histories: transition, school-time, bath-time, bedtime. (yep, yep, yep and yep)

When discovering this behavior recognize that your child needs you to:
  • First be aware of your own reaction to the defiance. (somehow I've got to not get triggered)
  • Step back and give her the space to process the fear. (definitely don't hover over MissArguePants or demand eye contact from TurtleTurtle)
  • Verbally acknowledge the fear to her in a loving way. (even though this will be met with a loud "I'm NOT afraid!")
  • Listen to the defiance and reflect upon this unconscious response. (I have a hard time "reflecting" when I'm being screamed at. But I'm working on it.)
  • Link this defiance to his past experiences.
  • Validate the trauma feeding the defiant fear-based reaction.
  • Interrupt any negative repetitious conditioning.
  • Understand that he cannot make logical choices in this fear state. (Oh this is hard! I want them to obey!)
  • Open up communication in order to express this fear with you.
  • Teach the life lesson later when he is calm and more cognizant. (I'm still working on this. It seems that the girls like to experiment with things that aren't safe. I just don't like to wait to discuss why running through a parking lot isn't OK or go into detail about why you should buckle up in the car. I'm working on it though.)
I'm really looking forward to reading the entire book. I have a gut feeling that it's a lot like Love and Logic but with a focus on kids from a trauma background. I need all the help I can get right now. This is the hardest. thing. I. have. ever. done!

And just so I don't end every post with a downer, I'll add that this experience is stretching and growing our family in wonderful ways too. I know that we are making progress with the girls. I know that my boys are learning to give and love unconditionally. And my hubby and I are becoming the most amazing parenting duo around! Our neuro-typical kids won't stand a chance. Muaa haa haa haa

1 comment:

marythemom said...

Beyond Consequences is not a lot like Love and Logic. It's pretty much what you have here.

I'd recommend reading the book to reinforce the understanding that your child's behavior is coming from fear, but be careful of the fact that these books tend to put a lot on the parents. It is key to focus on where your child is and help them get emotionally regulated in the moment (while they are in "fight, flight or freeze," but the second component of that is for them to learn how to emotionally regulate themselves. I felt like these books put a lot of blame on the parents and guilt when things didn't stay calm. They also didn't facilitate accountability on the part of the child.

Love and logic seems to come from the opposite direction, facilitating accountability, but not focusing on attachment.

We try to use a combination of the two (in the FAIR Club), with a lot of Katharine Leslie thrown in (I find her to have a lot of practical advice).

Mary