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Showing posts with the label therapeutic parenting

Fairy's morning

Here is a post I wrote this morning, but couldn't upload because the internet was down:

It gets worse before it gets better. I know this. But the worse is happening right now, and the better is only a hope for the future.

I want to make a better log of what is happening, and what I’m doing, so I can try to work out what works and what doesn’t. If any of my adoptive, therapeutic friends would like to make any suggestions then I would be delighted to hear them.

This morning Tickle was worried about school, as usual. It doesn’t help that his teacher left with one days notice, and they don’t seem to be actually doing any of the things we discussed that might help him cope a bit better.

At breakfast he was banging the table, and saying he wanted to hurt the cats. Each time I asked him to come in to the sitting room with me, to have a sit in the comfy chair and calm down. The first time I said I had to keep Etta safe, as he’s not allowed to hurt her; he has to come and sit with me unti…

Reflections on this week

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It's been a funny old week. (By which I mean I have journeyed through the depths of howling despair and back again.)

Less than a week ago I genuinely thought we might have to disrupt. Weirdly, today I'm feeling more positive about things than I have done in quite some time. This has been achieved, I think, by a few significant shifts in the way I'm thinking.

The first was to do with self care, though actually it's more than that. We all know that we should look after ourselves, do nice things, make sure we get a break now and then. However, this week I realised that what self care actually means is placing my own needs on equal footing with those of my children. Or maybe even above them, sometimes.

For the last 18 months our entire household has been a slave to Tickle's emotions. He has blossomed under this approach, but the rest of us have suffered.  This week we gave ourselves permission to step away from him and focus on ourselves and each other, even at the ti…

The Key

I've had a really crap few days.

My friends reading this will know that I had a big event last weekend; an event I've spent all year working on, which hundreds of people came to, and something of which I am very proud. I honestly don't know how I got through it - the build up, the preparation, the event itself. I've got a team of amazing people working with me, but I'm the big boss, so the buck stops with me.

It's my favourite weekend of the year, usually, but this year I didn't enjoy it. I mean, I did - I smiled, I laughed, I saw my friends, I felt proud of it all... but it was like I was viewing it through a lens. I didn't feel connected. I could see everyone having a great time, but I couldn't get a hold of that deep down in your stomach happiness. I just felt a bit hollow.

I've been feeling this way for a while. Not all the time, certainly, but I have noticed a definite reluctance to connect with my deep down feelings. Sometimes it's bec…

Therapeutic parenting and CPV

I've been doing some thinking this evening.

I've not had a brilliant day today; nothing out of the ordinary - not our ordinary anyway - apart from the fact that I had a big work thing this weekend (the sort that is a year in the planning) and that I think all the holding-myself-together that I've been doing for the last few months came suddenly and spectacularly apart at the seams. I finally let myself think the unthinkable in a way I'd never really done before, and not only that I went and admitted it to both Tickle's Social Worker and our Adoption Social Worker.

So this evening I'm worn out, and I've got a hell of a headache from crying for six hours, but I do feel a tiny bit relieved to at least have got it out in the open. Our Social Worker was practical and solid. She asked questions and she took a lot of notes. We formulated a bit of a plan of what we were going to do over the next few days, and she's going to come and visit again next week. Tickl…

Widening our vocabulary (or, The Great Attachment Swindle, part 2)

In part 1, I wrote about why attachment may not be the big deal it can sometimes be presented as, certainly in adoption circles. I definitely don't think we should be ignoring it completely, but I do think we should use vocabulary that is more specific to the problems our children may be facing, and that help us to move forward.

I ended the last post talking about trauma; below are some more suggestions for different ways of thinking about the common issues our children face.

Shame

Shame is something that is talked about a lot, particularly in relation to education, reward charts, etc. Nicola Marshall from BraveHeart Education has written a lovely blog about it, and why children can find it hard to move on from that intense feeling of shame.

If you want to go a bit further in to the science, we can have a look at Kohlberg's stages of Moral Development. (Disclaimer - theory, theory, theory. Even with the supporting research, it is never going to be a perfect answer, only a theor…

The morning after

It's the morning after. I'm writing because I still haven't quite worked out how I'm feeling. I'm feeling ill, which doesn't help; my endo has flared up and my head feels fuggy from crying so much yesterday.

Husband took Tickle out for the day yesterday, while Fairy went to Gran's and I had a rehearsal for a gig I'm doing next month. The music helped, gave me a focus, but as soon as that had finished everything was waiting for me just under the surface.

Trying to get my head around what I'm feeling is so difficult. In terms of actual, physical harm done to Fairy or myself, it's negligible. I'm sure there are many brothers who have done far worse things to their sisters and everyone has been OK. The emotional damage, on the other hand, is far more complex. Normally, when siblings are fighting, and a parent gets involved, you'd expect the fighting to stop - or at least for the angry child to find some semblance of self-control. Not with Ti…

Happy Mother's Day

Picture the scene. It's Mother's Day. I'm reading a book in bed, Husband is about to get Tickle dressed to take the kids out swimming, and just pops in to the loo. Fairy comes out of her bedroom, and starts to walk downstairs to get herself some breakfast. I hear a shout.

"Tickle! Stop it! Daaad!!"

I jump out of bed. Tickle has tried to push Fairy down the stairs, and is now thumping her on the head. I grab him, and take him upstairs to my room. I know I ought to stay with him, he's obviously in a bad place and needs me to stay close and regulate him.

But Fairy is crying on the stairs.

She has done nothing to deserve this. She was just walking down the stairs.

I go to her, sit on the stairs with her, put my arms round her and kiss her head.

Tickle appears at the top of the stairs. He's holding the bottle of water that was next to my bed, and before I can do anything he has launched it at Fairy's head.

A few days ago, I didn't have a plastic bottle…

Therapy

We've just had our first meeting with our new psychologist - the one who specialises in adoption and trauma. It was just an initial discussion and we only scratched the surface but there are a couple of things she said that left me a bit stunned.

Firstly, I described to her how we manage Tickle when he's disclosing, or goes loopy, or gets violent. I described grounding him, giving him sensory input, bringing him in to the present moment, helping him to find the words to talk about what he's feeling, the gentle but probing questions, the wondering, etc etc.

She looked at me, and said "What you are describing is basically what we do in therapy."

In their big, full on trauma therapy. In safe spaces, with a trained therapist, for a limited amount of time, in a dedicated environment, with supervision and support for the therapist. Husband and I are doing that, all the time, at home. With no support, with no escape, with no limitations on how long we will let these big…

I went on a course...

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As some of you might know, yesterday I went on a course, which was about some of the Big Stuff that we are having to deal with. Although some people reading this will know more details, I'm not comfortable with being quite so blatant about the Stuff in this post, because really, it's Tickle's Stuff, not mine. So, for the purposes of this blog post, the course was about how children are affected by significant trauma, and what parents can do to help.

I was pretty anxious about it beforehand; I didn't really know what to expect, and was worried that I'd find it difficult and emotional. However, I found the day as a whole to be a really positive experience, and I came away with a lot of stuff whirling around in my head which I'm going to try and sort out in to a post here. Advance warning - it might end up quite long!

We started off talking quite generally about trauma, and what the word means. Apparently it comes from the Greek word literally meaning 'wound&#…

It's getting difficult again

Today Husband was woken at 2.30 by Tickle. He managed a couple of hours doze on his bedroom floor before T decides to wake the whole house up by banging the wall and screaming - all before 5am. Husband did a fantastic job of calming him down, and I managed to doze until sixish. Love that man.

While Husband was in the shower, T and I had a long chat. He told me he was scared of a kid at school. I told him I knew that he was scared of this child, but I also knew he was much more scared about some other things, and I thought that sometimes it's much easier to pretend that the child is all he's scared about because the other things just *so* big and scary.

It took some time, but Tickle eventually agreed, and we had a chat about his big scary feelings. He was able to articulate things a bit better than last time; each time we talk I get an extra glimmer of understanding, another piece of the puzzle.

I told him we would keep him safe, that these things will never happen again. "…

I'm very tired.

Sometimes people say things to me like "Oh my kids used to get up at half five, I remember it well. It's exhausting, but it's a phase and it will pass."

I know they mean well, and I know they are trying to comfort me. Sometimes they don't know the reality, sometimes they seem (to me anyway) to be trying to make us realise how normal this behaviour is. I really do understand this comes from a place of love and wanting us to feel better, but what it ends up doing is minimising our feelings. When people say to Fairy "My brother hits me, that's normal." it makes her feel like she shouldn't mind, like she has no reason to feel scared of him.

Sometimes there's no point saying anything, so I just nod and smile, while I cry a bit inside. However if you're reading this, there's a good chance you really want to understand, so for you, I'm going to be really, brutally honest.

Tickle woke up at 5.30 this morning, and shouted at us because he…

A day in the life

Today, one of our new Social Workers (the lovely one who is carrying out our assessment of need) emailed to say she needs to include something about the emotional impact all of this is having on our family, what a typical day is like, and the reality of parenting Tickle.

Here is my reply:
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Hi Lovely Social Worker,
OK I'll do my best..! It's not always easy to talk about I think, because if we stopped to admit quite how much of an impact it is having on us it would be too overwhelming and we'd struggle to get going again! I think most of our daily life at the moment is gritting our teeth and getting on with it.
A typical day would be Tickle waking around five, when he will come in to our room and ask dad to come back to bed with him as he's scared on his own. Sometimes he wakes in the night but will usually accept being settled back to sleep, though any time after about 4.30 he's unlikely to go to sleep again. Husband will stay with him, sometimes listening to …

Putting the brakes on

I wasn't quite sure how to title this post, as we're dealing with something pretty immense at the moment, and it's kind of hard to know where to start with writing about it.

I wrote in my last blog post about being rushed in to applying for the Adoption Order, but how I was ready to move on, for Husband and I to have control over our own decisions for our own family. However we've just spent the last week discussing whether we should ask for an adjournment.

We had so many plans for where we were going to get our support from post-Adoption Order, and in the last week or so every single one of those plans has completely disintegrated.

1) We had asked about 6 months ago for a referral to our local CAHMS service, to see if they could help us to unpick which parts of Tickle's behaviour were actually due to the trauma and abuse he has suffered, and therefore whether he would benefit from play therapy. This got bounced straight back, with an accompanying note saying we ne…