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Attachment and Trauma

MLC - offering choices to children

Making choices is a challenge for many children, and offering choices is often inconvenient for parents. That being said, we also know that being offered choices gives children voice, which they often need. Here is a tip I use for helping children make choices.

When I present my kids with two options, I touch first one palm and say the first option…

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…and then the other as I say the second option.

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Last Friday, Beza had her wisdom teeth removed. For two weeks we talked about the soft foods she wanted and the movies we were going to rent.

As the day approached, I found myself looking forward to the opportunity to nurture Beza in a way I hadn’t before. Overall, Beza is a very healthy kid, so the closest I’ve come is making tea for a sore throat or heating up a rice sack for a stomach ache.

This was a whole new level of caring for her.

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In 2009, I launched My Learning Curve, a series of posts with practical tips for parenting children from “hard places.” I’m reaching back into my archives to share some of these updated posts with you. We are nine years into our adoption journey, while many of you are at the beginning; I remember how desperate we were for help. I hope these posts are useful to you.

Here is my quick tip of the day. As I watched the therapist work with Kalkidan, I noticed that when she gave an instruction, she looked in Kalkidan’s eyes and said, “Got it?”

 

K i have enough 2

In 2009, I launched My Learning Curve, a series of posts with practical tips for parenting children from “hard places.” I’m reaching back into my archives to share some of these newly updated posts with you. We are nine years into our adoption journey, while many of you are at the beginning; I hope these posts are useful to you.

So many of our children from “hard places” experienced extreme deprivation. They may have lived in an orphanage, neglectful home, or in a place where there simply was not enough to go around. These experiences wired their brains to believe that there would never be enough of anything: food, clothing, attention, love.

We spent years helping Kalkidan work through these fears. Back in 2009, she created the photo above during a therapy session. With help, she made a list of the things she feared she did not have enough of, and then drew the picture showing that there is enough to go around.

K B bubble gum

In 2009, I launched My Learning Curve, a series of posts with practical tips for parenting children from “hard places.” I’m reaching back into my archives to share some of these updated posts with you. We are nine years into our adoption journey, while many of you are at the beginning; I remember how desperate we were for help. I hope these posts are useful to you.

I was a “no gum mom” until June of 2009 when a wise therapist changed my mind. In an early therapy session, Kalkidan was dealing with some difficult emotions, so our therapist had us take a break to chew gum and have five hugs. She explained that chewing gum has a calming effect; I later learned that it is related to deep pressure in jaw joints.

She broke out a bag of Dubble Bubble and all three of us went to work on chewing and being calm. Just in case you are tempted to try this with a skimpy piece of Trident gum, it is my personal and completely non-professional opinion that it won’t have quite the same impact.

fight like a girl

One of Russ’ students gave him an orange bracelet for Kalkidan’s birthday that says, “FIGHT like a GIRL.”

Kalkidan was a fighter. First she fought out of fear. Later she fought for healing.

One of my few memories from the accident is Russ’ voice as he, and a nurse who stopped to help, did CPR on Kalkidan.  Their voices, counting compressions, came to me in a moment of foggy consciousness. I heard Russ calling out to God, and then I heard him say,  “Come on, Kalkidan, you’re a fighter. I need you to fight harder than you’ve ever fought before. I love you.”

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Parenting children with trauma histories requires a whole new level of research and thought about how to handle particular behaviors, wounds, and relationships. I’m pretty sure I should have an honorary doctorate by now.

Thankfully, we don’t have to figure it all out on our own. There are wonderful therapists, books, videos, and even blogs written by folks just like us who are giving this parenting-kids-from-hard-places gig all they’ve got.

I read a post on a friend’s blog that is fantastic. Ann wrote about helping her child heal from a very painful memory by reenacting the event in a loving, nurturing way. She writes,

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This week’s Tuesday Topic comes from Lydia.

This is my second year teaching First Grade. I have had a lot of experience with children with many different needs both in my parents’ home, camps, and educational settings.  However, there is a particular student in my class this year who comes from “hard places” and I am struggling to set him up for behavioral success.  His behaviors are very impulsive and he struggles to stay on task.  In addition, he is very defiant and often refuses to obey the simplest requests.  Stealing food and lying occur as well.  My typical behavior management tricks do not work with him.

Each week I reach back into my archives for a My Learning Curve post that I  hope will be helpful to you. An earlier version of this post was published in October 2011.

Last night I had an errand to run.  I drove a few minutes to a house in town and knocked on the door.  A little girl answered and a scowl appeared on her face.   She demanded, “Why are you here?”

You can imagine that was not the greeting I was expecting — especially since I was at my friend’s house, and the child was my daughter.

I said, “Kalkidan, that’s not a respectful or kind way to greet me.  Let’s shut the door and try that again.”

It’s Wednesday and I’m reaching back into my archives for a My Learning Curve post that I  hope will be helpful to you. An earlier form of this was published in April 2012.

Kalkidan asks questions – lots and lots of questions.  I can see dozens of you right now nodding your heads and saying, “Yep, I know just what that is like.”  From the time she gets in the car after school, until we sit down for dinner 2 1/2 hours later, the questions are constant and range from the necessary to the ridiculous.  I find myself answering, answering, and answering again; eventually I find myself saying, “Kalkidan, you know that is nonsense and I’m not going to answer it.”  Hmmm…that’s not a particularly smart strategy.

It’s as if Kalkidan believes she is not being seen, or I will not meet her needs, if she isn’t talking constantly.  Which reminds me of something Karyn Purvis says, and this is a paraphrase because I don’t want to dig through my notes this morning, “Abuse tells a child, ‘I don’t like you.’ Neglect tells a child, ‘You don’t exist.'”  Perhaps the constant questions help Kalkidan feel as if she exists.