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In this life we can not always do great things. But we can do small things with great love.." :) Mother Teresa

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“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


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)

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Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Describing A Negative Feedback Loop

I have rarely used this wording , but we CLEARLY were in a negative feedback loop for a couple of days.
One of the things our kids will do for us, is keep us from being lazy parents. Lazy parenting will get you into all sorts of trouble whether your child is adopted or not!
Heather Forbes and Bryan Post in "Beyond Consequences Logic and Control" talk about "Negative Feedback Loops" that our children AND WE can get into.... and they discuss breaking out of the loop.

Have you ever been in a useless discussion argument with your spouse?  SOMEBODY has to make the effort to STOP, turn things around and jump off the roller coaster of despair!

In the VERY same way, this can happen with our children.  I wrote earlier today about my own issue but wanted to clarify in this post a little more detail.

We started school 4 weeks ago, we have had a really great start,  but I was not feeling very well.
It turns out my thyroid is overactive..... so my meds are being adjusted.  As a result I was not sleeping well, concentrating well, and just feeling overwhelmed.
At the same time, Alli's 6 month anniversary happened and she was feeling the unseen calendar.... the one that says "It is time to move on."  She didn't know why she was feeling so anxious, she just was.
This started her in a spiral backwards that she just didn't seem to be able to control. She was too busy trying to control everybody else. LOL
Poor baby.... She needed ME to be on top on things and I just wasn't.  What resulted was a little bit of head butting.
I won, every time.... but at what cost?
I began thinking about it.... and was convicted in my heart of looking for short term solutions to long term goals. This is called "goal killing". :)  I was becoming snappy, and judgmental and internally angry.  Instead of gently guiding, I was becoming a coach, barking orders.

Alli has come SO FAR in such a short time.... I am so proud of her.   I didn't look the other day past her initial behavior to see  that she was overwhelmed, and instead called her on the behavior, not caring about why it was there.   This did not help her at all and so, because of my OWN failures, we locked horns off and on.
And the Lord was convicting me.  I needed to be her lifeline and instead I pulled the rope away.

After seeking the Lord and feeling back on track , I was trying to do things right for Alli, but she was STUCK in a loop of negativity. Had I not escalated, I don't think she would have been stuck.
I cooked her favorite fish. We had green beans and I also made everybody a Strawberry Milk shake.
She likes those too.
I figured we would talk after dinner.
Instead, she came to the table angry and then proclaimed she didn't like what I had prepared.
She couldn't rise out of her trouble.  As Mike and I tried to encourage her, she dug in more and more.
And then, she started to cry.  She said, "I really will eat everything, but I want a piece of toast too!"
Honestly, I don't think she knew what she wanted, she just couldn't get out of her loop.

So, here I am thinking. No way!  But my husband saw something I didn't. He saw her trying and she didn't know what to do.  So he very gently said, "do you need the toast?"  She said "Yes Daddy".   He asked ME to make her some toast.
Inside, I was not wanting to, but I put myself aside, and trusted my husband's wisdom.   I brought her the toast and she thanked me, and then she ate every bite on her plate.  She even liked it.  And then, we had a chance for more conversation.

Without any prompting, she wept and said how very sorry she was for how she had been acting. She then began to tell us about some of the memories she was having and we were able to pray with her. I also repented to her that I had not been more helpful.  She engaged in deep conversation for quite awhile, and then during our family worship time, she openly prayed to the Lord, asking for help and forgiveness, thanking Him for her family and how much we care for her.

That small gesture.... a piece of toast, broke her out of her negative feed back loop.

Some may ask, "wasn't she manipulating"?  Some may ask, "What about discipline?"

My answer is, no to manipulation. She was out of control, lost in her emotions and sometimes in trying to gain control it can look like manipulation, but it really isn't.    And what about discipline. The end result of all of this was a very happy, repentant and apologetic child who ate every bite of her dinner and  told us how thankful she was to have us.  Isn't that what every parent wants?   She knew she had done wrongly and we did talk with her and give her tools to learn how to break out of those negative loops. 

I just need to be reminded that I am the one holding the rope. If I don't give it to her to hang onto,  it won't do much good.


:)De said...

Great post and good timing. I just went to a parenting conference on Tuesday and one of the speakers, a Christian man with 11 children, talked a lot about looking past behaviors and seeing our children's heart. It was a good reminder for me. I think we all get caught looking at the behavior...it's what can be seen. But what a beautiful reminder of how God sees our heart and I want to do at least that for my children.

Hope you get your thyroid levels back on track. It is a very yucky feeling when mine if out of whack.

Chris said...

That was a very good reminder...I would like to use your story in a newsletter that I write for non-electronic foster/adoptive parents. I'm always on the look out for honest writers...your feelings are real esp. the part about making the toast.
So could I use your post and print the blog address with it
Let me know...

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