Friday, September 04, 2009

Just thinkin' . . .

Okay, I have been reading some blogs and some kids are rally having some rough times around the blog-o-sphere. The foster, adopted, special needs kiddos can really throw the families for a loop. Not only is it difficult dealing with the child who can be aggressive and impulsive, but it is difficult to deal with your spouse, your job and just plain LIFE with the addition of all the extra stress. Right now we are having a little peace from behaviors, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt they will be back, probably with a vengeance. I want to comment on some of these posts, but too often I don't know how to do so without sounding crappy and judgmental (even thought sometimes I would like to) so I keep my mouth shut most of the time.

I thought I would address some things here that I would like to say a couple of places around the web. I thought maybe I could just address them generally and maybe won't offend. I hope maybe this advice could help just about anyone . . . and maybe I am just full of crap. This is not directed at only one party. All of this is definitely also directed at myself. I am just as "guilty" of all of these things.

1. Foster/adopted kids are gonna have issues. Regardless of their diagnosis, or lack thereof, they are gonna have issues. They have been ripped from the only family they know. In all likelihood they were taken from either a neglectful or abusive home, or mentally ill parents. They will not only have emotional stressers, but most likely genetic ones. I get so tired of reading, "They do not have a diagnosis". Who cares?! Just because a professional doesn't see the problem at the time doesn't mean you aren't dealing with a whole suitcase of baggage. Who cares what it is called, you still have to deal with it. Cut the kid some slack. This does not mean you have to give in to their every whim, but it does mean that you should have some semblance of respect for what they have been through and how it has effected them regardless of the letters behind their name.

2. OMG too many words. Does everything have to be discussed? If a child is refusing to do the dishes. Do you have to talk about the responsibility in the house? Do you have to tell them what their consequences are? Do you have to remind them that they will do nothing else before they do the dishes? Do you have to talk about all the stuff you do for them? Do you really need to pile on more chores so they can refuse those too? If my child refuses to do the dishes, I would say, "Fine. Go to your room. I'll do them." Does the child know they should be helping? Does the child know they are gonna get more consequences? YES! Do you have to pile it all on now or can you talk about it later when they are calm and ready to talk? YES. When they are calm and are able to come out of their room say something like, "I did your chore, now you need to do mine, I would like for you to wash down the driveway" or whatever. Do not engage during the issue, you are simply making it worse.

3. If you child is raging, you do not give them more power by hiding from them or locking yourself in your room. You do not let them know that you fear them. You are the adult. Act like it. This is absolutely ridiculous and I will not continue with this one.

4. If you are concerned about lying, don't ask questions. Don't give them an opportunity to lie. If your child says they brushed their teeth and you know you did not hear the water, don't say "Are you sure?" and give them a chance to lie. Say, "I know you did not, I didn't hear the water. Go brush them now." Will they always be liars. If they have been diagnosed with FAS they will likely be liars. My Dustin has little impulse control, no object permanence and doesn't understand cause and effect so we have no hope of the lying ceasing. FAS is not the only reason a child lies. Think of the lives these children lived before coming to us, lying was not only a habit but a necessity for many.

5. trust runs both ways. You may expect trust from the child, but they have to trust you as well. Don't talk about them and their behavior in front of them, unless it is a therapist. I don't care how old they are this is degrading. I have made this mistake more than I care to think about. I am not saying you shouldn't tell friend's parents or neighbors about issues, but do so without the kid present. It doesn't have to be secretive, but you should respect them enough to do so in private.

6. For the love of peanuts, fake the love. I don't care how irritated you are with them, hug them. Tell them you love them. This is the hardest one for me personally. I have to work hard to hug him when I am mad at him. He needs reassurance after really bad behavior and it is terribly difficult for me, but I have to FAKE IT. These kids have been through so much. They have been bounced, or moved, or ripped from homes. They have been hungry, scared and neglected. He needs reassurance that just because he did something I still love him. (I suppose this would be good for the husband when I am mad at him too!)

7. Compliment the crap out of these kids. I honestly don't care if it is "Hey, good job breathing quietly!" They need positivity! This is the one I am working on the most right now. Dustin gets complimented for everything. (And oh my word, it is working!) I try to compliment him once every 10 minutes at least. You can literally see his posture change and his face glow. He needs the positivity. If you cannot compliment do it along the lines of The Nurtured Heart Approach and just narrate what they are doing, "I see you are watching TV." It sounds really stupid and you feel like a fool, but it works. They see that you are noticing what they are doing and for some that is enough of a compliment. I went to a workshop once that equated it to storing positivity in a piggy bank. Every time we compliment or praise we are putting coins in the bank. She said it is easier to deal with bad behavior (or take away coins from the bank) when you are left with a positive balance at the end of it.

8. Vent. Vent. Vent. Find someone who will just listen. Shoot an email out. Holler at your office-mate. Let it all out in front of your spouse. I don't care who it is, vent. Find someone who is safe enough to be able to say, "I hate my child right now." Someone who knows it will pass in 2 minutes and you don't really mean it. Someone you can call and say, "He ran away, I kinda hope he doesn't come home" (okay, too close to home!) And they know you are just frustrated. Sometimes those kind of things are far too personal for a blog in my opinion and can change other people's view of you.

9. Share with us! We need to know what worked for you and what didn't. Sometimes what works for you is really not good for our kid and vice versa. Sometimes your failures can give me an idea. Sometimes tweaking an idea works fabulously! If you really don't want to blog, comment. If you want to be anonymous, make up a name. We are all in this together. I could never have made it this far with my sanity in tact if it wasn't for the venting my blog allows me and the support I have gotten knowing I am not alone.


msnkrey said...

When my boys were small and they lied I told them to open their mouth and let me look in. If they lied I told them there would be a white dot.. Of course if they did not or would not open .. you could tell. we still have fun with this one. Great blog Sheri. I admire you and your husband for all you do to get information out to others. Have a good holiday weekend.

A said...

You go, girl ;)
I think that's part of why I like having my blog be anonymous. So if I do say something too personal no one knows it's me.
I agree with you on all of these, even though I may be an offender!!
I'm glad you're getting a break! We've had a good two days in a row here, too, and I'm breathing it in!

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

re: #1
I think parents want a diagnosis because they think that will guide them in what to do. If it is Autism, try ABA. If it is RAD, try Nancy Thomas or Beyond Consequences. If it is ADHD, try ritalin. If it is depression try therapy and so on. There could also be a physiological factor causing behavior problems so finding a diagnosis is important there.
Unfortunately having said that, it has been my experience that getting an accurate diagnosis can be impossible and even getting it right the first time does not give you much more direction.
Because you are right, the diagnosis in the end doesnt mean anything to the child. It still all comes down to the parents.
Unless you were talking about me. In which case I say, bleghhhh.

Jo said...

Actually, I think this should be printed up and given to every single foster/adoptive family out there. You nailed darling, absolutely nailed it.

Boo said...

Excellent post. Going to print it as reminders for those hard hard days.

Heidi said...

Great post and I also think these things will work for all kids with behavior issues, not just adopted or foster kids.

Linda B said...

Thanks for putting this in writing. Great suggestions. Printing it out is a good idea-when I'm in the heat of the moment it's hard to let it come naturally. The hard one for me is to give hugs when I am pissed at them. But I know.....