This week, LIFE has happened. We got through a week of school, a week of disappointing paper work that was returned, a week of awesome girls being girls and a week where two conversations were about possible disruption.
As I look back on this year and counting with Miss Alli, seeing how fragile she was when she came home, coupled with the conversations I have had this week, has helped me to understand even more, the fragility of a child who is an older adopted orphan.
I wanted to focus on the reason that many times, consequences that are logical DO NOT work, and many times, cause a child to REMAIN in their traumatized past.
I have had many conversations over the years where The BCLC model is dismissed as poppycock.
OR, those who wrote the book have been discredited as being irresponsible, and the parenting style they suggest is coddling, giving into bad behavior and spoiling. I sometimes grow WEARY, trying to explain that THAT is JUST NOT TRUE....
When a child has been through significant trauma, it WILL effect the brain. I have spoken before about the "Window of Tolerance", where a child who is stressed will begin to melt down very quickly, based upon stress level or "tolerance" level. It makes perfect sense. It is just that our own personal levels may be MUCH HIGHER than our kids.... THAT IS, until we have been under significant stress ourselves. Our patient selves disappear and our personal "window of tolerance" closes more and more. And before you know it..... "DISRUPTION"!
When the precious child came home, there was a lot more patience exhibited. Parents were trying to work with the child to help them transition. THEN, there was this level of expectation.... they should be doing better by now. ENOUGH with the tantrums. ENOUGH with the tears and anger! "Don't you see what all we have given you?"
Frustration sets in with the parent, because there is this hidden expectation. Maybe an expectation they didn't even know was there.
And as for the child, there is an expectation also. It is the expectation that everything will be the same. They will continue to be unloved and unaccepted.
Unfortunately, many times, this is reinforced by well meaning adoptive parents.
"WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS?"
"WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?"
"WHY CAN'T YOU JUST STOP?"
"WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE TO RUIN EVERYTHING?"
And those are the nails that seal shut the relationship door.
Those are the words that reinforce the label, "Unlovable, Undesirable, Unwanted".
How do we avoid that cycle? How do we get PAST the TRAUMA DRAMA?
The good ole' brain MUST be RETRAINED to think differently. It CANNOT AND DOES NOT happen overnight, but it CAN BE RETRAINED and for success it MUST BE!
The important part of this is that, LOGICAL Consequences MANY TIMES HAMPER, getting in the way of real progress! Why? Because TRAUMA ISN'T LOGICAL. First off, STOP TRYING TO USE LOGIC!
I heard somebody say that their child said, "If you are bad around here, you get sent away!" This made this person really angry at the child, because it caused FEAR in another child in the home.
So, the person felt like the child who said those words should be sent away. ????
I will not pretend that their situation is easy. But wouldn't sending the child away REINFORCE EXACTLY what that child said and give CREDENCE to the statement they made to the other child?
Apparently consequences for unwanted behavior were not working. In fact, the more they DON'T work, and the MORE you try to ENFORCE them, the worse things get... and for the TRAUMATIZED CHILD, that is EXACTLY where their comfort level is. YES! Their comfort level is CHAOS! So I ask, if your child is really struggling, and you are really struggling, "How are all those consequences working for you? "
God does NOT use Logic with us! We sin; the wages of sin is death, so He sent His SON to die for us. WHAT? That seems ILLOGICAL! That seems like not making somebody have a consequence! BINGO! YES, you are RIGHT! And guess what happens! OUR LIVES are changed because GOD Gave HIS Son!
Our Children's lives will change, when we lay OUR lives down and LOVE them, as GOD has loved us.
We need to SPEAK words of LIFE into our children. We need to tell them they are lovely, when they feel unlovely. We need to tell them they are kind, when it doesn't seem so. We need to tell them they are obedient, when they are rebellious.
Let me explain.
"I know that this behavior is not the real you! The real you, that I see deep down inside doesn't want this! The REAL you is kind, and sweet..... That is the person I see!" "I see a LOVELY girl just waiting to come out!" "I'm excited for you!"
It is AMAZING how such statements can turn a sullen, disrespectful child into a pile of pliable, teachable, clay. :) Just as God loves us, his children, and says, "You were once dead, but now you are alive. You were once thieves, drunkards, liars....but now you are honest, sober minded, truthful"(my paraphrase)
Last week when Alli and I stayed home together, this is exactly what I did. And then we switched gears immediately. "Alli, would you like to help me with a project?"
Her answer was YES! And we spent the day working on my closet, having a great time. We laughed and talked and enjoyed each other.
I COULD have punished her attitude by putting her in time out, which would have created more chaos and then I COULD have piled more punishment to compound that "attitude"....I COULD have threatened to take away things.....because she was being disrespectful. But I KNOW that those things do NOT work for her. She gets STUCK and is STILL LEARNING the process to get out of the funk she works herself into.
Instead, I worked on retraining her brain to change gears and STOP the drama.
Guess what? We have had a FANTASTIC week, and then this a.m. happened. We were getting ready to go somewhere and she couldn't find the right shoes for the outfit she was wearing. She wanted to borrow somebody else's, and they didn't want her to. It was a PERFECT set up for her to work on what she has learned.
She tried to work out in her head the outcome. I offered her a few ideas for shoes and she rejected them. And then, I said, "I know you will work it out!" She knew exactly what I meant.
And about 5 minutes later she emerged from her room with a smile and her own shoes on. There was no drama, no anger, no fit, nothing! YEA!
That is when Mike and I both grabbed the opportunity to praise her efforts for a job well done!
I think she was pretty proud of herself too. :)
Alli is learning how to navigate life at a higher level this year than last. Last year, she was like a sea tossed vessel, driven from all directions, lost ..... Things began to shape up GREATLY over the year and she began to celebrate and love her life.
She has been AWESOME!
This year, we have set new goals of personal self control where she puts into practice what she has learned. And it is happening! I am seeing a little butterfly emerge and flap her wings. :)
“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)