Saturday, September 1, 2012

Tell me not to worry

Dude is throwing bigger temper tantrums than ever before.

He's over 3 1/2. These are like 2 year old tantrums. This morning the freak out was because he wanted the toy Bart had in his hand.

As soon as I walk close to him to redirect, he freaks out even worse.

If I put my hand out toward him (to take him by the hand to walk him away, to wipe his face off because he's spitting all over himself, or when I need to pick him up to move him) he starts screaming, "ouchie".

Today he said, "Mommy don't hurt me." All I was doing was sitting next to him in a chair while he screamed.

Tell me not to worry.


grkanga said...

Dude connected thee dots. talking alone to s.Worker meant leaving you for a long time ... a very long time. And some people talked to him about being hit when he does something wrong. And he is not stupid. So when he does something he knows is wrong he reacts with 'don't hit', You will need to talk with him, VERY carefully, about the fact he knows you do not hit, and that saying you might when he knows he has done something he has misbehaved makes you sad. BECAUSE he knows no hitting in your house.
(Not sure this is good idea or not as do not know him:Tell him it is not an ok or funny joke but part of why the judge did not let him go on vacation with you all......) GOOD LUCK. This is part of the removal aftermath.

Loosey said...

For everyone's safety and sanity, try not to engage him, at all, when he is tantruming. Don't go near him. Put earplugs in and model calm without eye contact. Have the other kids leave the room with the stated objective, "Ya'll go in the hall until Dude feels able to use his words." Hug them out the door into the hall. You could sit on the floor in the doorway so they all feel like you are near. I know Erica from "No Thank You Bites" fame taught her kids to sing, "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" whenever she had a rager; they could sing and feel connected while she practiced the near-but-not involved strategy.
During calm times you can explain that you communicate with words, and whining or howling keeps the family from helping each other and makes everyone unhappy. Practice singing together when everyone is regulated.
It is good for him to get covered in spit or hurt his leg from kicking a chair. It helps him process why he should use words. Tantrums have natural consequences and redirecting/moving/attending to them make them worse and mask the consequence and make you part of the tantrum. He has a good attachment to you so RAD rules don't apply and won't help him. Film him with your phone if you are worried it will get misconstrued. When he is calm, reinforce that hitting is not allowed for anyone and howling will not get him what he wants.

CherubMamma said...

Just a little creepy Loosey - were you in my home when Dude was banging his legs back and forth against the chair I sat him in?! :)

And, ironic enough, I did pull out my phone to video it just in case he left bruises on his legs.

I've read a lot of places to remove the other kids from the rager. I have a hard time with that though. I always feel like I'm punishing the kids that were playing nicely and obeying because they get taken away from their toys. I know it would work best for the raging child to stay where they are at. I do! It's a fine dance in the end I suppose. Sometimes I leave the screaming child. Sometimes I remove the screaming child to a safe place next to me.

I did talk to Dude as he was up on my lap before nap today. We quickly and calmly talked about the fact that mommy doesn't hurt Dude. He had a look of remorse in his eyes. I used grkanga's advice from above and told him it made me sad when he screamed I was hurting him. I think it clicked.

Foster Mom - R said...

My 8 year old was throwing ragers sometimes the ignore strategy worked. Sometimes I ended up cradling her like a baby and repeating your safe you're loved while rocking her. But only if it seemed we could handle it. Sounds like he's dissociating and reliving the abuse.

The other kids will feel protected- no punished when excused to leave the choas. We had one night where I handed all the kids a pair of ear plugs and we carried on with dinner.

I'm sorry you guys are going through it. The more he processes the better he will be able to heal. You are doing a great job!

CherubMamma said...

R - he might be reliving the abuse. Except...I don't think the kids were ever physically abused in their bio family.

Maybe they were. Maybe not. They did NOT act like it at all when they first came in to care. And from everything I've been able to piece together it was only neglect.

But both kids are acting very different now. In fact, I was just sitting in the living room with everyone. Dolly was next to me and had her rear end up in the air. I very playfully "got" her (something we've been doing with all the kids forever). She completely froze and then started crying. I obviously triggered something horrible.

She immediately let me cuddle her on my lap. I apologized and told her I was only playing. (It was a light tap. I just startled her more than anything.) She buried her head in my neck and cried.

I quietly asked her if anyone ever spanked her before. She told me one of the children she spent time with in respite this summer did. Without prying too much I asked if the mom or dad kept her safe. She nodded but couldn't talk about it.

I've got a text in to my licensing worker to see if I can find out more about this boy before I jump to horrible conclusions.

I do NOT want to accuse anyone of anything. My own kids have gotten into arguments with Dude and Dolly and things have gotten physical. It's not allowed at all! But it was all within the realm of normal.

Dude and Dolly were horribly affected by the removal this summer. It continues to break my heart!

Rosalie said...

Do you think the other foster parents they just were in respite with hit them or made up stories about their removal from you?

CherubMamma said...

I don't think the respite family hurt the children at all!! I really don't. But the reactions I'm getting from the kids now could be as a result of how the respite family processed the removal with the cherubs this summer.

I've always got a horrible need to know the "why" behind the behavior. It's my own problem. I honestly know that. But I always figure if I can better understand WHY the kids are acting the way they are, I can better meet their needs. In reality, I need to meet the need exactly as I see it at the time I'm seeing it. Always trying to figure out the trigger keeps me running in circles and doesn't accomplish much.

That said, I'll still probably try to get to the root of this new behavior from Dude and Dolly. My two guesses right now are:

1. Something happened in the respite home that triggered memories for the kids from before they were in care. They might have gotten into a scuff with one of the other kids and the respite home processed through things using different words than I have. Or one of the other kids in their home could have been removed because of abuse and they were responding in a way that triggered Dude and Dolly.

2. Or...Dude and Dolly were physically abused by some family member when they were little and they are just now remembering things. The removal from us this summer could have been a trigger simply because they were processing so many big feelings all over again.

Having this 54 day hole in the kids' lives is so difficult for me. Neither child is really capable of talking about what happened. Both freeze and go silent if I ask a question about things they did. At best I've been able to gather that the kids went to Jack in the Box for dinner with the respite family. That, and the cherubs offered up that they ate pizza. I've asked questions (not prying ones, just ones where I'm trying to genuinely show an interest) about what they did over the summer. In fact, I know the kids went to VBS. Neither one can talk about it though. They just freeze up.

If indeed the kids were physically abused in their very young lives before coming in to care, I'd like to find out the details. I know I never will. But I'd like to find out. Because honestly, both my husband and I think that indeed the kids were abused physically before coming in to care. It's hard to explain but the kids really do seem like they are responding to deep seeded memories. Who knows if moving to their grandma's will keep them safe from whoever hurt them in the past?!

But isn't that always the concern after reunification?

Kayla Lee said...

OMGoodnes your story is heartbreaking and scary to me as a soon to be foster mom. I will be praying for god to work in this situation. Thanks for sharing.

Mandy said...

No matter what the past is, it is the past, and the farther my boys get away from it the better they are doing. If there is something that is opened up that Dude and Dolly are processing it is good in a way because you can just continue to remind them they are safe. Tyke was telling me just last night as we were giving bath time. "I am safe. I am safe." I don't know why he was/is scared in baths, but he is internalizing that he is safe now. I remember the counselor telling me, "Its not always best to help them remember, but we need to help them heal."