I love seeing how you all answered this Tuesday Topic. Thank you so much for taking the time to send your thoughts my way.
Here is Heidi’s question about discipline:
…I have tried time out, but the isolation only feeds her weaknesses. I have tried other forms of discipline and they only make her either rebel harder or victimize herself. I have tried ignoring it but she will persist with the antagonism (sometimes for half days or until sleep time!). Nothing seems to work consistently. And she is only 2!
I have copied excerpts of your great comments in order to avoid this post being excessively long. Click here to view the full comments. This is what you all had to say:
….I think we are still stumbling through it. We’ve made mistakes along the way, many I’m afraid, as we’ve walked what seems some days to be blindly through older children adoption, but find good old fashioned love and consistency is key…
I’ve been reading “Have a New Kid by Friday” by Dr. Leman…love it!!!! It puts the consequences of their behavior back on their shoulders and it has literally “freed” me from the arguing, coercing, yelling and the immense frustration I’ve felt for months. And it works! Gotta love that!
..It’s not about me…..it’s not about me….I have to keep telling myself “it’s not about me.” It’s about them/their pain, their hurt, their feelings of loss/abandonment. I’m just the vessel that they are using to release the pain. Worn out emotionally, yes, but when you see the smile, the unconditional hugs of love, I know God has it figured out…I just need to relinquish it to Him to use me to heal these beautiful children he’s blessed me with.
I am very touched by the degree of honesty shown here. Nobody imagines that they will need to restrain their child while he hits, kicks, etc. This is not the kind of parenting most of us dreamed of, but there are times when it is the only way to keep everyone safe.
Michelle mentioned that she is learning to see past her daughter’s behavior and recognize the root of it, which is fear. That has been so important for me. The hypervigilance, the demands for everything to be fair, the extreme reactions all come from a place of fear in my children’s hearts. They are survivors and every crisis is a matter of “life and death” to them.
I’ve been mulling over Heidi’s question and trying to translate all that I am learning into techniques for a two year old. So many things we do with Dimples, and our other children, seem to be more appropriate for a child who is four and up. However, these are some things that come to mind:
1. Keep a routine, even on weekends. As Matt mentioned, children who have experienced trauma do well with lots of routine. Their lives were chaos and their little brains became accustomed to being at high alert all the time. By providing them with structure, we can help them feel safer. Your weekend routine may be different from during the week, but it is important to tell you child what is going to happen: breakfast, play indoors, go for a walk, lunch, nap, etc.
2. Be intentional about transitions. Eby has a very hard time making transitions, so I prepare him by telling him when it is going to happen, how it is going to happen, and how he needs to behave when it does happen. Sometimes we practice the behavior I want him to have in advance.
3. Use Time- in. Many of you wrote about this technique. Let’s be honest, when our kids are challenging, we want a break! The last thing we want is to have them sit close by. But in this, as in so many aspects of parenting, our children must come first. Sending a child away is not productive for our kids. I have my kids sit in the “ugly chair” next to the kitchen where they can be close to me. I tell them it is the “think it over” spot. With a two year old I would probably call it the “calming chair” or “quiet place”. They need to sit until they are calm. If they refuse to stay on the chair, we move the laundry room. I detailed all of this in this earlier post. If they refuse the stay in the laundry room, all that remains is holding them, as so many people mentioned.
4. Hold them close and keep them safe. There were many comments about “holding” children until they calm down or gain self-control. I find this very stressful and have to work hard to remain calm. A dysregulated child being held by a dysregulated adult does not result in healing. If you do this, be sure to breathe slowly, pray for your child, and calm yourself by rocking them if possible. I also find it helps to have calming music on, if there is somebody who can turn it on for you. Listening to worship music and focusing my mind on it helps me relax.
If you cannot stay calm and are not sure you are in control of yourself, call your husband, call a friend, call your church. Tell them you need immediate help. If you have no option but to face this on your own, buckle your child safely in her car seat and go for a drive; unless you feel you can’t drive safely. Put music on while you drive. Breathe. Keep yourself and all of your children safe.
I have a guest post coming soon with more ideas on this Tuesday Topic. Thank you one and all for reading, writing, and caring about one another.
This week’s Tuesday Topic will be up tonight!
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