In the 14th of our series, we presen the secret thoughts of an adoptive mom of three kids, Emily, Grant, and Lynn. This time, our struggling mom realizes that, though it's slow, she is making progress with her kids.
Although I haven't written in a while, don't start thinking things are getting dull around here! Very little chance of that happening. I had a great visit/session with Roz the other day--I Really enjoy getting her perspectives on my bizarre little world. Here's how it went.
Roz: How have things been with Lynn since your meds seem to be kicking in?
Me: Lately she seem sot be escalating her behaviours. Things like writing on the walls and furniture, or should I say "engraving". She never misses an opportunity to annoy Grant or Emily. She is opting to use her bedroom as a toilet, and it is really really difficult to get her to sleep at night. Plus, she seems to be chewing on her bed and anything else she can find.
Roz: So what has changed to make her behave this way?
Me: I can't think of anything that's different for her.
Roz: (Silent, but looking at me expectantly.)
Me: Oh, I get it now! I'm what's different for her. I'm not responding the way I used to. I'm not yelling or giving off angry vibes or getting upset.
Roz: Exactly! She's not getting from you the same reaction she usually gets from you. So now she needs to escalate her behaviour to try and get those old reactions form you, only you're not responding. Lynn is so used to everyone being angry with her that she doesn't know what to do now. This is a great time to really go overboard on the positive reinforcement--lots of hugs, high fives, anything that will show her how great you think she is.
Me: Let me guess--her behaviour isn't going to change overnight, but it will change eventually.
Roz: Yup. Once again no quick-fix, easy solution, but it will get better. Now, how are things going with Grant?
Me: He is driving me crazy with the constant whining and crying, the constant "You won't let me," (even when I do "let" him) or the "You're mad at me."
Roz: (Laughing) Oh, you notice that now do you? He's been doing that since I started working with your family, only you've been so caught up in Lynn and her behaviours that you haven't seen what your other two kids have been doing to try to get you to notice them.
Me: So, what do I do then? Each id is different and each one wants attention fro me and each kid responds differently. I highly doubt that I can manage three separate parenting techniques... I'm having enough trouble just maintaining my sanity now.
Roz: You don't need three separate parenting techniques. Sure, every child is different and responds different, but being consistent is the most important thing. Would you tolerate Grant or Emily chewing on toys or writing on the walls? Of course now--it's the same consequences for everyone. Each child has their own mat and will be sitting by you if they are not capable of following the house rules. Some kids learn from those "time-ins" quickly, while others need many repetitions. And as long as you are consistent and apply the rules evenly, the kids will eventually comply. And if they don't, then the result is that they are still spending time near you, which still helps build the attachment between you.
Me: Will there ever be a day when Ic an feel confident that I'm doing the right things for my kids? And for me? This parenting stuff is really hard.
Roz: I want you to go back and read some of your journal entries from when Lynn and Grant first came home. I bet you'll be surprised at how far you've come since then. Hang in there--you're doing great.