Thursday, March 15, 2012

Highly Recommended!

Christine Moers is the therapeutic parent that, via her blog, has taught me oh so much about therapeutic parenting. I started reading her blog several years ago. Years before I was ready to see the truth about Cherub 2 and his trauma. Years before we welcomed more foster children into our home. Years before I thought I needed therapeutic parenting.

I read her blog though and I took it all in. Then I went to YouTube and watched her videos.

I couldn't relate to most of it. Not really anyway. I didn't have any kids in my home with RAD. I didn't understand the rages. The destruction. The lying. The dysfunction.

And I didn't want to.

I used to ask God if he was teaching me this for a particular reason. I even had an underlying fear that I was going to end up needing therapeutic parenting. (Was God going to dump some psycho alien from another planet into my lap that was going to pee in the corners of my house and yell obscenities at me?!)

But I kept reading.

And I realized that I could be a better parent if I paid more attention to a lot of the things she had to say. All kids deserve empathy. All kids have a reason behind their behavior. All kids need playfulness. All kids need a little help getting unstuck. Out-crazy the crazy is a lifesaver for me sometimes!!

And even though Dude and Dolly are Basics (As opposed to Moderates, Severes or Intensives) I still have to think differently. And it really helps when I use some of the techniques on my totally neuro-typical teenager. (Really though...are ANY teenagers neuro-typical?!)

For example, one of the best things I've learned from Christine is how to stay out of a power struggle. And I don't mean just walking away and taking a time out for yourself. I don't know about you, but my kids follow me. They WANT the fight. But I've finally mastered how to stay out of it!

Repeat back to the kid exactly what they are saying to you.

I'm so pissed off! You never listen to anything I say to you. You don't understand what it's like to be me.
Wow. You sound really mad. And you feel like I don't listen to you or understand you.
Yeah! You don't! You never listen to me. You're so condescending.
That must really make you mad if you feel like I never listen to you and that I'm condescending.
It does! I'm really mad.

By now, whether he wants to admit it or not, the wind is slowing falling out of his sails. I'm not arguing back. I'm just agreeing with him. I will just continue this exchange until an actual conversation starts. Or, when the opportunity presents itself, I will say something like, "I feel like you are simply trying to fight with me. I'm done now. I don't attend every fight I'm invited to. Please let me know if you'd like to talk. I'm here for you."

My husband is still working on this technique. He said he got totally tripped up one night when Cherub 2 yelled, "I'm so stupid. I hate myself."

Mr. Amazing wanted to validate him but became a bit stumped as to how to respond. Obviously you don't want to look at your child and say, "That's right. You are stupid."

Now, for the life of us, neither one of us remember what he actually said that night. In the moment Mr. Amazing got playful and started teasing Cherub 2 and he did snap out of it. A good response would have been, "You feel stupid. It must feel horrible to hate yourself."

The thing is, you have to stay calm. Don't use sarcasm (which is very, very, very difficult for me). And just repeat back what the kid is saying to you. Make eye contact. Keep a soft face. And repeat. Repeat. Repeat. Until the child is done trying to suck you in to their abyss of insanity. Christine actually says to practice the face and the tone in the mirror. Largely because if you are being sarcastic, or if the child thinks you are making fun of them, this technique likely won't work.

ANYWAY...back to the headline...

Buy This Video

I finished watching it tonight (while hooping in my living room - if you "know" Christine this is very appropriate). It's short, sweet and to the point. It's not full of any magic techniques. It's not going to change your parenting overnight. But it's a wonderful explanation of what therapeutic parenting is.

I'm keeping my copy. And I just ordered one for my foster parent licensing agency. I'm totally going to pimp this video out. Not because it's full of awesome graphics and you walk away from the video feeling marvelous. But because it's real. And it's full of some great information that I don't think every foster parent is given. Or, if we are, it might not stick the first time. I don't know about you, but most of the training I'm required to get to maintain my license has to do with how to fill out a med log, who's allowed in my house and who isn't, supervision standards, and other worthless crapola. Very little of what they teach us has to do with trauma and how it changes the brain function. Very little of it has to do with real parenting.

So here's my pimp of this video on my blog. Just because I believe in it.

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