Splitting / Triangulation

Published March 15, 2018 by thefamilyof5

The honeymoon period was never going to last forever, I knew that.

Over the last couple of months big girl has been gradually withdrawing more and more from family life with her main and only focus being on school.

48hrs ago a minor incident at school that required us to have a gentle chat, instantly blew up in to something major. The minor incident was pushed to the side in place of control, aggression and violence and ultimately the rejection of any parenting beyond basic needs.

If I hear ‘shut up idiot’ much more, I may actually scream. Loudly. It breaks my heart to see her destroy the things she holds dear, family photos that she will regret having ripped to smithereens.

Big girl has always been skilled at splitting relationships, pulling the wool over people’s eyes whilst demonising another. Usually me. Its happened within the family, within the support services we’ve accessed, even a newly appointed social worker and of course, its happened in school.

It seems like its happening in school again. It can’t happen though. This school placement is big girls last hope, this families last hope, I fought hard to get her there, but she needs to feel safe there because the alternatives aren’t ideal.

So whilst school inadvertently take on the role of ‘rescuer’ and bandage her imaginary PE injuries and empathise with her difficult family life, they’re allowing her to play the role of the victim, which is playing straight into her hands and making her family the perpetrators.

Until this stops she will remain hostile and violent at home. Being able to control your teachers, doesn’t tend to make you feel very safe.

I found this great piece on triangulation and wanted to share it with you, I’ll add a link to the source as well.

Triangulation: This is one of the more potentially damaging hazards that teachers encounter with AD students. AD students are reliably on the lookout for other adults to playoff against their parents so as to make their parents look deficient in some way. Teachers are a favorite choice. AD students often present their optimal side at school, a side the parents rarely see at home. On the other hand, when the parents describe home behavior that the teacher has likely never seen, teachers are often incredulous. It is tempting, on the surface, to ascribe the difference to faulty parenting. With AD students, that conclusion is most likely incorrect. By adopting the perspective of blaming the parents, teachers step onto the Rescue Triangle. This is a dynamic that commonly occurs in human relationships, and it is always destructive. The Rescue Triangle has three participants. One is in the role of Victim, one is in the role of Perpetrator, and the third person arrives as the Rescuer. AD students usually place themselves in the position of Victim and then invite teachers to play the role of Rescuer from the Perpetrator parents. In attempting to “rescue” the child, the teacher unwittingly joins with the child as a co-perpetrator to victimize the parents. Now the initial roles have shifted. This is the nature of a Rescue Triangle. The roles are always shifting over time but nothing else really changes. No healing happens. No one learns anything. This same dynamic can develop involving only school personnel wherein one teacher is devalued (Perpetrator) while another is idealized (Rescuer). AD students always place themselves in the Victim position. It is essential for teachers to learn to recognize the invitation to enter a Rescue Triangle and decline it. In denying the AD student the role of “Victim”, the teacher will likely instantaneously become a “Perpetrator” in the student’s eyes, and may start to see behavior more reminiscent of the student’s behavior at home. This is the nature of the game at hand: any adult who refuses to support the AD student in the Victim role becomes a Perpetrator by virtue of their refusal. Instead of accepting the Rescuer invitation, teachers should suggest that the parents, teacher, and student all sit down to discuss how it is that the child’s behavior is so different at home vs. school. This breaks the Rescue Triangle for it requires one of the three roles to be absent at all times. If triangulation is not blocked, the teacher will become an unsafe adult in the AD student’s eyes- it’s just a matter of when, since failing at Rescuer is inevitable.

So it looks like I’m going to need to meet with school, emails just aren’t cutting it. Big girl is going to have to be present for some of the meeting, she needs to see we’re all working together to support her. She needs to see we’re strong and consistent and school need to see that we are not the perpetrators and big girl is only a victim to her own attachment disordered world.

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2 comments on “Splitting / Triangulation

  • Thanks for sharing. Not heard of triangulation before but it fits with our daughter at school. We were advised to use a communication book (we call it the red book) that teachers and parents write in each day and hand over to each other before and after school. Theory is it shows the children that the grown ups are talking about them to help them through their challenging time. Been in place since Jan and has worked really well. We understand the struggles she faces at school much better and why we see certain behaviour at home. She doesn’t need to bottle it up now as she know teachers and parents are talking – to help her.
    Its tough but stay positive.

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