behaviour

All posts tagged behaviour

Its fair…….

Published August 29, 2014 by thefamilyof5

A few weeks ago I had a very quick chat with middle girl about consequences for poor behavior, being fair. Now I know a lot of adopted children struggle with ’cause and effect’ thinking but I thought I’d give it a go any way.

Let me give you a little background first. Middle girl is angry, she hides it mostly behind her smile but at home, the minute she doesn’t get her own way she ‘strops’ and by that I mean she chucks herself on the floor and gets even more angry. This has meant that whenever I’ve had to talk to her about a poor choice or an unacceptable behavior or even simply a gentle word about speaking nicely or sharing etc I’ve been met with looks of utter hatred and anger which have meant that the poor behavior turns in to a vicious circle of anger feeding yet more negative behavior.

So a few weeks ago, after yet another episode of night time and early morning antics I sat middle girl down and tried to explain to her that if she misbehaved there would be a consequence. We talked about how it was ‘fair’ and that It didn’t mean that she was a bad person or that I was a terrible mummy, it was simply fair. All children make bad choices sometimes, I explained to her, its how you learn and grow up to be an adult who makes great choices, I said. I used a few examples to back up my ‘fairness’ theory such as when grown ups make bad choices they might get in to trouble with the police, and when children at school misbehave they might have to miss play time or some other privilege. Initially she responded to me with anger and tears but then it was like a light bulb moment for her and she started to listen and even contributed a few other examples of her own.

We then moved on to talk about her own responses to the consequences and how in the past she’s felt angry which I understood, but it hasn’t helped her to make good choices and improve her behavior afterwards, so we talked about how she might look at her consequences in a more positive light and instead of thinking ‘I’m rubbish, I hate mommy’ she might like to start thinking ‘oh dear, I messed up but never mind I can do better next time’. This really seemed to sink in. Now I wont say its improved her behavior as such,  and it doesn’t appear to have ignited any ’cause & effect’ thinking,  but I will say its improved her anger.

When I have to speak to middle girl these days about a poor choice or behavior, she no longer looks at me with all that hatred, these days its more of a ‘bummer,I’m in trouble, but its fair’  kinda look!

 

I’ve linked this post up over at ‘The Adoption Social’ for this week’s ‘Weekly Adoption Shoutout’ #WASO

The Educational Psychologist – 3rd appointment

Published May 11, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Friday, baby girl and I met with the educational psychologist at school. It was the first time baby girl met her. The purpose of the meeting was to explore baby girls understanding of her feelings with a view to being able to identify when she’s ‘loosing control’.

I was a little cautious about this idea because I’m not sure baby girl is ready to ‘take care of her self’ she’s still showing me she wants me ‘to take care of her’, none the less I was still quite excited at this new idea, well that was until I attempted to explore baby girls knowledge and understanding of feelings in preparation for the appointment. Aside from happy and sad she didn’t seem able to think about any other kinds of feelings, and even happy and sad were a little hazy.

So, we started the session by talking about happy and sad and what things made baby girl feel that way. Other than ‘playing’ for happy and ‘not playing’ for sad, she struggled to come up with any other suggestions, even with some prompting.
Between the Educational Psychologist and myself we managed to devise a list of things that made baby girl happy, and things that made her feel sad.
We then moved on to exploring her understanding of her, sometimes difficult, behaviour, she had no understanding.
We asked her what sorts of things might make her feel worried, panicky, anxious (or ‘un-calm’ as she put it), she didn’t know.
We talked to her about how she feels inside when she’s having a difficult time and feeling un-calm, she didn’t know.
We talked about how mummys cuddles help her to calm down and asked her what other things might help her calm down, she didn’t know.
We some how managed to draw up a 1,2,3 scale of how she looks, from ‘calm to un-calm’, I really don’t think she understood what we were doing and seemed more interested in getting the pen the educational psychologist was using.

The session started with her looking very worried sat on a chair next to me, after lots of wondering about, constantly snatching at the pen, having to be re-focused and reminded to listen she eventually ended up squirming on my lap, baby voice and all with my stroking her back and trying to calm her down.

I took baby girl back to class and returned to the meeting.

The educational psychologist agreed with me that she didn’t feel baby girl was going to be able to recognise her own feelings and would need the grown ups around her to help her with this. I pointed out that I already do this at home and generally I’m able to manage baby girl quite well by preventing her from becoming dysregulated in the first place, but in school there isn’t anyone to recognise her anxiety, what triggers it or even to help her to calm down. She asked that I work with baby girl on the 1,2,3 chart at home and said she felt it was also important that it was implemented in school too. She commented that for baby girls age she would have expected a much better understanding of feelings and would be asking the school to provide her with extra support with this.

She’s going to contact me with a date for our next appointment, she said it could be as far away as September when baby girl enters her new class?!

In the mean time I’ve spoken to our gp and requested a referral to the community paediatrician to investigate my concerns over possible sensory issues she may have. If she does have some sort of sensory processing disorder or sensory issue, it may explain why she can easily become dysregulated, and may also be the reason she needs 12- 13 hours a night sleep!

For now, we must wait for the next appointment…………..

Baby Steps

Published April 28, 2013 by thefamilyof5

It was almost 3 years ago that we travelled across the country to meet the girls, amongst many other memories I distinctly remember how baby girl clung to me like a baby monkey on that first day and whimpered in to my ear ‘when can I come to your house?’ ‘When am I going with you?’.

Over the next year or so she impressed everyone with her independence, her ability to dress herself, fold her clothes even tidy away her toys, there were no supermarket tantrums, no nagging for things endlessly, no whinging and whining. Her first day of nursery went without a tear or tantrum, unlike the other children she didn’t cling to her mummy and beg her not to leave. Instead she confidently walked past her crying class mates and went off to play. ‘She’s so well behaved’ people would say. ‘Too well behaved’ I would think.

It didn’t take me long to realise my girls were not ‘well behaved’ they were ‘compliant’, too scared to show themselves to us and the world around them.

(Extract taken from Adoption Voices Magazine)
‘For the compliant child the situation can actually be devastating. As a compliant child who is either not causing problems or actually well engaged and visibly successful, she is not seen as having any problems at all. Parents see this child as well adjusted to life, including being adopted, and with no outwardly troubling signs of concern, this child is often overlooked and not given any form of counselling or assistance in dealing with life or emotional wounds. It is difficult for anyone to see that the child who is often referred to as, “mature for her age” or “pleasant and articulate,” is actually in equal distress to the child who is acting out. Both are hurting, both are devastated by the trauma and both have no way to articulate, understand, contextualize or grieve the loss they have endured’

More recently baby girl has been testing some of the boundaries, she’s argued her point, sulked and even stamped her feet. She’s expressed her needs of hunger and tiredness, she’s told me of the foods she doesn’t like and asked for the foods she does. She’s asked for things in a shop, almost nagged for them in fact. She’s expressed her ‘need’ for the latest toy craze that her friends at school have and she must have now! She’s left her toys out and moaned at having to tidy them away, she’s chucked her clothes on the floor and forgotten how to dress herself. She’s left the bathroom without washing her hands and she’s even sometimes come out of school having forgotten something. She’s protested at having to brush her hair and sprayed my perfume all over the floor. You may be reading all of this and thinking ‘well she’s 6, this is what 6yr olds do’ and I’d totally agree with you, however for the last almost 3 years, she hasn’t done any of these things. There is still an element of compliance, its a work in progress for whilst she may protest at doing things, she generally protests whilst doing the very thing she’s ‘refusing’ to do. Baby steps!

So is this regression? Is she going back to being the stroppy lazy 3yr old that she should have been when we first met? Or is this just her feeling safe enough to relax now?

Either way I love it, I’m embracing the fact that she is starting to show me some of her true personality rather than the fake robotic compliance she’s given me before.

However I must try to remember how wonderfully normal this expression of defiance really is, when she next stamps her feet and rolls her eyes at me 🙂

My blog can also be found alongside some amazing blogs at The Weekly Adoption Shout out #WASO this weeks theme is ‘regression’.

The Educational Psychologist – 2nd appointment

Published April 26, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Back at the beginning of February I met with the Educational Psychologist at school to see if she was able to offer support with the girls, after much discussion it was eventually decided that as she was only in a position to address the needs of one of the girls, she would look in to baby girls needs.

Sometime within the last 3 months she has observed baby girl in her classroom setting once for around an hour. We met on Wednesday with the SENCO to discuss her observations.

She remarked that baby girl seemed very excited to have a visitor in her classroom, and was even more excited when she also joined her in her small phonics group. She said baby girl was confident, happy and eager to please, so eager in fact that during her phonics group she put her hand up that many times to answer the questions (always correctly might I add) that her teacher encouraged her to let some of the other children have a turn. She remarked that she saw baby girl doing a drawing as part of her work that morning. She said baby girl was clearly putting in lots of effort to create her masterpiece, but that it was so teeny it was barely recognisable. There was talk of her posture and sitting position which her teacher apparently assured the Ed Psych that she is aware of and regularly reminds baby girl to sit ‘properly’.

Being the sceptic that I am, I sat thinking quietly to myself about how her teacher was great at telling people what they wanted to hear, just like she did when CAMHS offered to support her with baby girl last year and she told them baby girl wasn’t an issue and she was managing her quite well (even though she was telling me she was at her wits end and running out of idea’s). I also listened to all the comments about baby girl trying to impress the educational psychologist with her art work, phonics ability and good behaviour and all the while I was thinking to myself that, of course she would be doing all these things, there’s a stranger in her classroom, she’s going to want to impress them and not only because she’s compliant, and not only because she thrives on positive attention, but because keeping the people around her happy is how she keeps herself safe. But I don’t expect that someone who’s met with me once and seen baby girl for 1hour to really understand that.

The meeting moved on to talk about my thoughts on baby girl and what improvements it was that I wanted to see. I talked about her mood swings and the things I felt could trigger her stress. I mentioned how she seems to get very distressed by certain types of noises, how she has a fixation on smells and is obsessed with food. I talked about her fascination with other peoples ‘hurts’ but how she can also become overly distressed and distracted if a child is hurt or crying. I talked about her behaviour when she’s stressed and how it is different to her ‘normal’ behaviour. I talked about her inability to regulate her behaviour herself and how I help her to do this. I mentioned her unpredictability and shared my concerns about possible ‘sensory’ issues.

The educational psychologist suggested some work around helping baby girl recognise her own stress levels by perhaps using some sort of 1,2,3 style gauge similar to those used in ‘anger management’ techniques, and that her and I could use it to communicate her mood. I was happy with this suggestion but a little disappointed that there didn’t seem to be any suggestion of this gauge being used in school, or even for them to help prevent her becoming stressed in the first place.

I manage baby girl quite well at home, I prevent her becoming over stimulated because I know she can’t cope, and I recognise when she is unravelling and I help her to calm by pulling her close and giving her a cuddle. I commented that whilst I had sent baby girl in to school that morning having had a great nights sleep and appearing to be in a good mood, there was always the chance that a loud noise, a crying child, or a funny smell could change that in an instant and someone else needed to recognise these triggers with her and help regulate her instead of allowing her to remain dysregulated for the entire day.

But there was no talk about how her teacher could help to keep her calm by keeping her close through the day, or school being able to offer her any support/reassurances during unstructured times, there was no mention of her teacher becoming more aware of the triggers and being able to reassure baby girl that she was ‘safe’ and was ‘ok’ in order to calm her. There was only talk of her helping herself by recognising her own emotions and stress levels. This made me feel quite sad, she’s 6, she needs to know she is being looked after, she needs to know the people around her will ‘see’ her and keep her safe and meet her needs. Taking care of herself is something she had to learn within the first few weeks of her life, she knows how to do that!

I later learnt that whilst we were in this meeting talking about how her teacher is apparently managing her just fine and I was expressing my concerns about this, baby girl was sat in her classroom, at her table, cutting her school dress and cardigan with scissors, again.

CAMHS – Cognitive Tests

Published March 8, 2013 by thefamilyof5

The cognitive tests that I requested for Baby girl and Middle girls from camhs took place a few weeks ago. Sorry its taken me so long to write about them!

We got the results a week later, I will admit to being surprised and some what disappointed by the results.

It seems baby girl isn’t the absolute genius that I’d thought she was, she is ‘only’ (said with a wink and a grin) performing at the upper end of average although it seems she’s a super quick thinker, in fact almost a ‘superior’ thinker, explains why she is able to out smart me so often! I can see I’m going to have to watch out when she hits her teens!

Middle girl scored low, borderline in fact, the damage caused by the neglect in her first few years of life is very apparent. There wasn’t however the answer I was hoping for, I was ‘hoping’ for some significantly low score that would explain why we’re having the same issues with middle girls night time antics over and over again with no sign of her learning from past mistakes. But there wasn’t. It sounds horrible that I was hoping for something so awful from her results, but maybe then I could have understood, I could have empathised and sympathised instead of feeling the frustration and anger that I currently feel.

So I’m still left wondering why……..

The Darkside

Published March 5, 2013 by thefamilyof5

We put middle girl back in baby girls room Sunday.

2 late nights (only half hour later than usual) and 2 early morning wake ups (2hours earlier than usual) and baby girls a mess.

I tucked her in to bed last night, and as I walked to leave the room she said to me ‘if I’m naughty tomorrow I’ll get in trouble won’t I mommy’. She knew.

And she was……..and she did.

Every word, action, thought or notion today has been about control and getting a reaction.

Somehow her behaviour seems harder to deal with these days, I think its because I’ve seen the other side now, I’ve seen that the grass really is greener on the other side and what I actually thought was ‘normal’ turned out to be the darkside.

Middle girl is back in our room now and the dark chaotic baby girl will go back in to hiding and my calm loving baby girl will return in a day or two.

And so it starts, again…..

Published February 11, 2013 by thefamilyof5

In the 3 months that middle girl slept in our room baby girl thrived, she grew so much she skipped an entire clothing size, she even seemed more content when she was sleeping, her schooling improved dramatically, her behaviour was much more ‘normal/appropriate’ and more importantly she started to develop more ‘healthy’ and ‘secure’ attachments. We saw a completely different child which told us this early waking thing had been going on much longer than the 12months we’d thought it had.

2 weeks ago we moved middle girl back into baby girls room.

The last 2 weeks have been a constant barrage of the familiar interrupting, antagonising, provoking, dropping, pushing, forgetting, not hearing, not seeing, objecting, not doing, controlling and re-traumatising.

Baby girl is tired. She has a tornado of tiredness wreaking havoc within her, she feels out of control and is sinking into chaos. She projects her inner state to the world around her. She’s feeling chaotic, therefore we’re all feeling it too.

I’d hoped those 3 months of secure, safe, chaos free lovely-ness would have been enough to keep her grounded through the tiredness.

It wasn’t.

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