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Monday, February 6, 2012

The Next Step in Healing


Yesterday was a hard day, but it was a good day too.  Yesterday showed me how far we have come as a family, and how we need to try harder in some areas in order to progress and not stagnate.

This week has been a HUGELY busy week, and it was no surprise that Miss Alli would have some struggles with the change in schedule and the "burning the candles at both ends" type of life...
This means, we had something going on every day and we didn't get into bed until WAY after bedtime, and still had to get up. 
Alli does best on a set schedule she can count on.  It seems to center her to have that stability. Sometimes, circumstances are such that it just can't happen.  This week was one of those weeks.

There are also so many memories associated with this time of year, including birthdays, moves, and more....So yesterday seemed to be the perfect day for a good ole' fashioned  melt down. :(   I felt so badly for her as she used every tactic in the book to try and act like she didn't care.  I know she cares.  This was not my Alli.
This was a child trying to make sense of a life that so far has made no sense.
How do you make sense of tragedy?  You don't.  You accept it, and you move in a direction that will bring hope and healing.  That is all you can do on your own.

But one thing I DO KNOW.... Jesus has been with our Alli, ALL of her life.  I am sure He wept when she wept, and He was with  her in the midst of  her saddest of circumstances. He wept over her rejection and misunderstanding, just as she did. And He understood, because HE too was rejected and despised.
It always amazes me that God chooses to work with the frail, imperfect human.... But He does and His works bring about spiritual growth that is real and permanent.  He has had His hand on Alli's life, through it all.

Alli was unable to communicate in a healthy way, so we waited, and we waited more.  And then I stayed home with her and Mike and the other girls went out to lunch without us.  She was just not prepared to go anywhere.   Once we got to a place where we could communicate from the heart, TOGETHER, we came up with some steps we will be taking to help her. 
She will NOT be able to run outside and climb the tree when she is angry or upset.  She climbs too high and mama needs her to stay inside. Trees are for climbing when we are having fun. 
If she needs to calm herself, and she doesn't want to be in a time in type situation, no trees.
After she has done wrong, she will say "I'm sorry".... and we accept her apology. 
But from now on, we will be asking "What are you sorry for?" This is not done in a mocking tone. This is done very tenderly, to help her understand fully what happened and what not to do again.  She will be specific about what she is sorry for.  If she was rude or disrespectful, she will need to say, "I am sorry for being rude, or disrespectful."
I really think this will help her to identify what she is doing that is not acceptable, and also,  humble her.  

This is not a way to HUMILIATE....There is a big difference between being humbled and humiliated.   Being Humble is a GOOD thing.
This will also help her in confessing her sin in prayer.  She will be able to define it.


She will also be given time to calm herself without talking.  This is different for me.  Normally, because when we were dealing with these issues when our other girls were much younger, we would have what is called a "time in", where you come and sit with mama and get calm, so you don't feel like you are being sent away.  But with Alli being 12, she really NEEDS to be able to go somewhere quiet and calm herself.  I really think this is something I have been doing wrong and have actually CAUSED escalation myself!  It wasn't intentional, her needs are just different now.  She is NOT having attachment issues.  She is attached to us.  She is having more than not, miscommunication
problems that spiral her into a PTSD type moment. 
If I speak very soothing words, AFTER she has calmed, she is fine.  If I speak those SAME words when she is melting down, it is more like gas on a fire. 
SO TIMING, YES TIMING is very, VERY important. :)

Last night, after we had our talk, and things were calmer, we were all able to go to the Super Bowl Party we had planned to attend.  This was our last event of the week.  After everybody left the car, I asked her to remain behind, and we went over what was expected, much like we used to do when she first came home.  She started to cry and said that she was embarrassed because now everybody will know she was not behaving.  (nobody was around they were all in the house)  I reassured her that all was ok, but I needed to let her know if there were any, ANY incidents of snottiness, we would leave immediately.  She said, "Let's just go home now", because she still wasn't fully regulated.
And this is where BCLC took over.
I looked at her and said, "I am FULLY CONFIDENT that you can do it!"  "You have been able to listen, and I KNOW you WANT to obey."  "So let's just do it!" "Hold your head up high and walk in there and have a wonderful time!"
Sometimes a change of scenery, a change of activity can be the very best thing in the world for a child who is stuck in a mode....And my brave girl did just that. :)  We stayed the whole time and she REALLY had a wonderful time.
The family that we visited also has children from Russia, and we know each other well.

We talked about our goals for our new year coming up.  And she was actually engaged and excited to talk about it.  She REALLY does not want to  be stuck with the cycle of behaviors.  She really WANTS to do better and She WANTS us to help her. 
Healing is a PROCESS.. She spent her first 11 years in chaos, as I have written about before.  Just 1/12 of her life has been in a normal family.   (whatever that is.. LOL)
Now is the time pinpoint and focus on overcoming!

Mike and I were talking last night about the difficulties our children face coming from foreign countries and having to learn new languages.  Communication issues coupled with trauma is VERY difficult to overcome, partly because a child who is traumatized has a harder time learning and retaining.... yet they have to learn in order to communicate and be understood.

I think one of the biggest mistakes the adoption community makes is assuming that because a child can speak English, they have mastered it.   I find more often than not, MOST of the issues we deal with are based in communication.   I have said this before and I cannot say it enough.  JUST because your child can speak TEXAN or ARKANSAN or MISSISSIPPIAN, or any other dialect ..... they do not have the depth of language to fully communicate, and MASTERY usually takes on average a "double their age" time.  This means, if Alli arrived in the U.S. at the age of 9 and a half.  She will not have English MASTERY until the age of 19.  Erika, 16.  Sarah came at 5 and we have found that at 12, she does have mastery in English.

This does not mean she will have behavior problems the entire time, it just means that she doesn't have mastery and we need to remember that in communicating with her.  We need to remember to be clear and concise, asking her if she understands what we are saying and to repeat it back in her own words.  This is what we do with Erika, who has no behavior problems.

It is Monday, and I actually had a chance to put into practice our new plan this morning and it worked beautifully!  There was a gentle prod to practice what we talked about yesterday, and everything was resolved within a few minutes.  WOW..... Wish I had done that yesterday. :)

Our new perspective will be: "We can remain angry about the trauma we experienced in the past, or we can focus on the new life we have been blessed to live.  Perspective matters! DON'T WASTE ONE MORE MINUTE!"
This is not to take away from the facts of the past or to not minimize them.  They are huge and real. But so is the life ahead of us.... and it is WAY MORE POWERFUL to choose to live a happy life, than to live your life with both eyes in the rear view mirror.





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