When parenting traumatized children, one thing goes out the window..... NORMAL....Whatever that is. :)
I posted yesterday about STAGES, and how our children can be 18 months old emotionally, physically 8, or 10, or older, have the street smarts of 21 and the understanding of 5.... and we have to know where they are and what age they are operating in, in order to parent them. It is a HUGE requirement to be IN TUNE with your child in order to parent them according to where they are at any given moment.
Just as it would not be fair to expect a 2 year old to act 12. It isn't fair to expect a 12 year old with 2 year old emotions to act 12. You MUST parent him at 2.
This sounds strange I KNOW.... It sounds like coddling, or giving in... but it VERY MUCH IS NOT! In fact, it is a requirement in order for your child to heal and move into wholeness.
It is a commonly known understanding that where ever trauma happened, many children will get STUCK at that point and be unable to move ahead, until they are parented at the age the trauma happened.
I remember very VIVIDLY, when I was in the 8th grade, a girl who was new to my school. She came at an odd time in the middle of the year, and was seated next to me. She giggled uncontrollably, but I sensed she was more embarrassed. She had no idea how to converse and was VERY awkward socially. She was a foster child.
In Art Class, we had to draw, and I remember her drawing. She drew about like a 3 year old.
I was no artist at all, but I remember her nervously trying to draw what the teacher asked, and it stuck with me. This is the first time I have ever written about this.... BUT I have come to understand what may have been going on all those years ago in 8th grade and it hurts to think what happened to her.
Is she homeless? Did she make it? She seemed so very damaged. :(
A child who is in the midst of trauma, or has had severe trauma, has a very difficult time learning. They may be smart.... but they cannot use the part of their brain they need to function educationally, because their emotions are over riding and dominating the thinking part of their brain. I know this isn't very scientific, as I am not a scientist, but it is my observation and experience.
I would liken it to nearly getting into a fatal car accident and then trying to do algebra. It AIN'T Gonna happen! Try remembering your social security number and doctor's phone number when you are in a panic! There is a REASON they created 911.... people cannot think when they are in trauma.
Why do we expect our kids to?
Our children come to us with THEIR version of NORMAL, which is very much upheavel. They do not know what a loving family is. Many times they don't understand the concept of a family at all! They are taking care of #1 and that is it! They need no one, though they like the concept of a mama and daddy.... they don't understand the roles....
We PATIENTLY have to introduce them to the NEW NORMAL....
Sometimes, they will LONG for the old comfortable way things were. It makes no sense to those who don't deal with trauma, but for a child who's brain has been trained to function in dysfunction, they can crave it, and will try to RECREATE it!
As a therapeutic parent....YOUR job is to REWIRE their little brain and write the NEW NORM on their heart.
I remember when Anna was little... we would get in the car and she would take the seat belt into her hands and yell, "WHY DON'T YOU JUST HIT ME!" She needed the adrenalin rush that she was so used to. Instead, I rocked her. I sang to her and it made her MAD sometimes..... She was trying to fulfill all the familiar in a sort of odd way. Familiar is comfortable....even if you don't like it!
That is what she was doing...Trying to make the familiar happen, because the NEW norm was very scary.
With Alli, we are having some of the same things happen.... She is working through stages of healing, but also sometimes tries to recreate chaos. She doesn't know or understand why. Poor baby.
It was her norm for so very long that she knew nothing else.
Today we had a great talk about words and how important they are. She SO LACKS understanding in English. She is SO SMART, and speaks English well.... She just doesn't understand it.
I know it sounds weird, but we went through the same thing with Sarah.
Speaking comes BEFORE comprehension. Sarah spoke perfect Texan...but didn't know or understand MANY words. This made her original family think she was manipulative and rebellious and she wasn't.
In Alli's case I suspect the very same thing.... but she is older, and carries many burdens from her first families accusations. She was declared RAD, ODD, and a number of other things....and it was assumed by some counselor that she knew exactly what she was doing because she spoke English so well.:(
FRANKLY! There has GOT to be more professional training in this area!
If I went to Russia, and spoke Russian for 2 years, I SERIOUSLY DOUBT I could carry on a deep conversation with ANYBODY! Why do we expect this of our kids? It is just like you hear people say, "Ah, kids are resiliant".....UGH..... KIDS HURT JUST LIKE ADULTS! They are people!
Alli and I talked today about working extra hard on vocabulary and understanding. Much of her frustrations come from not being able to say what is in her head. The problem is SHE HAS NO LANGUAGE IN WHICH TO SPEAK her more complex thoughts. FOLKS that can be frustrating!
I would equate it to the frustration of an altimer's patient who gets upset when they cannot communicate!
She told me today that I was the first person who understood why she would get upset and say never mind. That really makes me sad. :(
Alli is on her 3rd language, none of which have been mastered. :(
Yet to hear her speak, you wouldn't have a clue.
I think I am going to get a fun vocabulary workbook for her and for Erika for the summer. That way they can continue to work on English comprehension.
Alli had a really great day today and really got into celebrating Sarah's Birthday.... I was really proud of her!
I know this post was all over the place. :) Sorry about that.
“I pray because I can't help myself. I pray because I'm helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn't change God- it changes me.”
― C. S. Lewis
― C. S. Lewis
I believe in the sun even when it's not shining. I believe in love even when I don't feel it. And I believe in God even when He is silent. (quote found on the wall of a concentration camp)