All posts tagged shame

The Talk, in School.

Published June 26, 2014 by thefamilyof5

Do you remember a while ago I had The Talk with big girl, well recently she had the same talk in school and last night I discovered just how hard she’d found it.

Lets start by going back a bit so you can fully understand.

4.5 weeks ago the anxiety began when I was approached on the playground by 2 teachers, who in front of the girls, spoke to me about how sports day was coming up after half term and I might want to consider keeping the girls off if they didn’t want to take part.

3.5 weeks ago, more anxiety because sports day was imminent.

3 weeks ago it was Sports day, which went relatively smoothly like it always has. That same week big girl came home with a letter advising that the school nurse would be visiting the following Monday to talk to them about puberty.
Later that week big girl came home with another letter advising that a steel band would also be coming to visit them the following week, and finally another notification of a planned trip to a local Caribbean restaurant to sample some of their foods.

2 weeks ago the Puberty talk took place, the Steel Band Played and they visited a Caribbean restaurant.

1 week ago Baby girl was told about her class assembly that was talking place the following week.

This week, Big girl was told about her class assembly that took place today and baby girl had her class assembly on Tuesday. Yesterday Middle girl came home and told me she will be having her class assembly (its 2 weeks away).

The last 4.5 weeks have been horrendously stressful for the girls which effects me and Mr FO5 also, with a constant stream of ‘stuff’ going on that’s set to continue until the end of term I fear.

Stress effects the entire family.

Stress effects the entire family.

So I didn’t notice the trigger, I wasn’t able to see specifically where it was coming from, sports day had passed, everything else went by seemingly uneventful, yet the difficult behaviors continued. I knew big girl was struggling the most, she wasn’t sleeping, her moods were awful and she was having regular tantrums at home. I asked and asked over and over what was worrying her, she just said ‘nothing’. Her sisters were anxious, there was a lot of things going on in school for them too but they were acutely aware of Big girls mood and it was sucking them in. I had 3 tired, grumpy, stroppy girls and no one could tell me why.

Last night after yet another foot stomping book throwing tantrum from big girl I cracked, I shouted, in fact I screamed, a lot, and sent her to bed, it was half past 5, I was emotionally exhausted and feeling every bit of her trauma. I calmed down and went up to her half an hour later. She was sad. I was sad. Eventually those all important words emerged, through her tears and from her frightened little mouth. ‘You know when the nurse came and I told you I didn’t have any questions after our talk, well, the nurse said my period will start at the same time my mom’s did when she was my age??’.

So much worry for someone so young.

So much worry for someone so young.

At a time that she was already feeling uncomfortable, emotional, worried and apprehensive she was made to think of her birth mom. She was made to wonder if it meant that she was going to be just like her birth mom in other ways too. She was left wondering how she’d ever be able to find out when her period would come because she wasn’t able to ask her birth mom. She was left feeling alone and isolated with her thoughts.

Big girl spends most of her time in school feeling lonely and she’s ashamed of her loneliness. She’s convinced that the children hate her and don’t want to be her friend because she’s a bad person, She doesn’t feel loved, liked or cared about in school and she brings that feeling home with her.

My poor poor big girl, she held it inside for 2 weeks, so scared, so afraid and helpless that she felt she had no one in the whole world she could talk to about this, not even me.

I’ve linked this post up at The Weekly Adoption Shoutout (#WASO) over at The Adoption Social


The impact of shame….

Published February 19, 2014 by thefamilyof5

There was quite a big incident with school at Christmas, baby girl had been chosen to be ‘narrator’ in the school play, she did say straight away that she didn’t want to do it but wasn’t offered an alternative role. 1st day of the Christmas play came and baby girl was off school, worry, stress and tiredness as she’d been up half the night. After speaking to school I was assured she would be given a new role and she didn’t need to worry any more. She was happy to go in the next day knowing she had a new role awaiting her.

I’m a special helper mommy, she said when she came out of school. I don’t do much helping though, she added, I’m sure your a fabulous helper and I cant wait to come and see you helping, I reassured her.

Me and my mum had tickets to see the 4th and final showing of her play. I was devastated with what I saw. Baby girl didn’t have an alternative role at all, she was just excluded, sat on the floor beside the teacher, doing nothing. My mum physically wept as she sat and watched her Granddaughter being publicly shamed. My heart broke as I watched her sit there mouthing all the words to ALL the different roles and performing ALL the actions as well. She knew she was being excluded, I could see it all over her face. Right there and then that entire week fell in to place, the behaviors, the odd comments, the anxiety, she’d tried to tell me in her own way lots of times, but I hadn’t heard.

Aside from me and my mum speaking with school immediately after the play and pointing out how she’d been excluded publicly and how this would have effected her, I decided I needed to do something else. This couldn’t happen again. My poor baby girl who already feels she isn’t good enough should never have been made to feel this way and I felt there had been missed opportunity’s on schools behalf to prevent this. I was livid. My mum, who’s worked in education for over 30 years was shocked and devastated that this had been allowed to happen.

I emailed the Education Psychologist and asked for her help, I needed someone in school that understood the massive impact this level of ‘shame’ had on my sweet baby girl and I didn’t feel anyone did. I also set about sourcing a local company that could offer the school some training in the effects of attachment and trauma, the Pupil Premium would be perfect for funding it I thought.

Since Christmas things have improved, the lines of communication are open, baby girls needs are being acknowledged and I’ve put forward my suggestions for specialist training for all the staff, to the school governors.

I worry sometimes that teachers and teaching staff fail to acknowledge a child’s needs because they worry that it will reflect badly upon themselves. I certainly felt this was the case at the last school. Baby girls anxiety was thrust in the face of school, yet it was brushed aside and denied.
I guess birth parents would feel the same, I’d imagine that if their child is struggling with their behavior or emotions, that the parent would feel that this was a reflection on them. My children are not the same, My children don’t struggle in school because of poor teaching (although lack of understanding can exasperate things) or at home because of my parenting. The responsibility for the damage that has been caused to them by trauma and loss, lies with their birth parents and the ‘system’ that failed to protect them, that’s why they struggle.

Baby girls needs are what they are, and they can be difficult and time consuming, especially when there is an entire class of children to contend with. There’s no shame in admitting that we need a little help sometimes. I know I do and I only have 3 to contend with.

School, a game of luck!

Published September 19, 2013 by thefamilyof5

Im feeling really quite sad and fed up lately and its all to do with school. Not the girls new school, they seem to be settling in really well, it is still early days though so Im not going to get too gushy about what a great time they’re having. No, whats really bothering me is the amount of facebook and twitter comments, moans, rants and even blogs I’m reading from adopters who are struggling with school. It really frustrates me that so many children are struggling and suffering because most schools just don’t ‘get it’.

Now I know that there isn’t really much specific attachment training available for teaching staff and I appreciate that schools have budgets and when deciding whether to spend money on training geared towards one child, or training geared towards all the children, then the majority win. However, what schools also seem to forget is that ‘attachment’ based teaching would benefit ALL of the children, not just the traumatised child in the class thats causing problems. But even without specialist training, why aren’t teachers listening to adopters, why am I reading frustrated comments about adopters feeling defeated, head teachers not listening, class teachers being dismissive, traumatised kids being re-traumatised by being excluded, punished, shamed and ostracised.

Poor Robbie, he must feel terribly ashamed.

Poor Robbie, he must feel terribly ashamed.

Just a few examples:
A boy, refused to come in from the playground at playtime, and became aggressive when they tried to force him. He was excluded for a week. No consideration given that this little scared boy was worried that no one was going to collect him from school because the pick up arrangements that day had changed. Change is a big thing for adopted children, change = bad in their minds.

A child arrives in class to discover the seating had all been changed. Asked the teacher why, and was told ‘because I can’. Child has melt down and is sat outside head teachers office to sit in shame and read the school rules manual.

Child complains of feeling sick, school ring parents. Parent explains its just anxiety due to the test that day, school demand the child is collected, parent misses day at work to sit with child during test. This child had his own TA.

What a naughty boy!

What a naughty boy!

And the comments I’m reading over and over:
School has been the one huge headache in our adoption and parenting journey.

Bloody schools when will they learn that just because they present as ok in school there are no issues.

I have tried to tell them, but all they see is someone who copes at school.

Told my child was fine, treated like a paranoid Mother.

We had this with school too, and even though we secured funding for extra support in school for a term, school refused it and told us it was us.

Even if they can’t see it at school some compassion wouldn’t go amiss, but they clearly see us as the enemy.

They’ve called him a model pupil. Except he often comes home wet, having not told anyone that he’s wet himself for fear of being told off.

She may smile and say she’s fine, but she’s been up all night peeing on my bedroom floor and in my wardrobe because you gave her the wrong spelling test.

Talked to them about regulation and stress and certain flash points, but they kept saying we don’t see this at school, My hubby asked the HT what she had found useful about Louise Bomber book and it was quite clear she hadn’t read it.

I can’t get school to recognise that their actions impact on behaviour outside of school.

He is not coping with the changes and this is showing by him wetting at school and home Her bright idea is to show him how to use the toilet, He knows what he needs to do!

Teacher informed me we are JUST doing stuff like family tree!

Started wetting himself the week before school started and has had a couple of accidents since as well. Stress induced I’m sure.

School is major stress for them.

hitting, kicking boy begging me to take him home at school drop off ‘this place isn’t safe mummy, take me home please…’

I sometimes wonder if this is the effect school will always have upon my child

achieving above and beyond at school but socially he doesn’t have a clue, school say no issues at all but at home is a total different story.

so the teachers need to know they are working at least twice as hard as their classmatess.

one week in and we have homework woes already

teacher was unaware of issues of adopted children

Feels like we're talking to a brick wall, not a teacher.

Feels like we’re talking to a brick wall, not a teacher.

These are real comments, I’ve merely copied and pasted them and worse still they’re all from within the last 14 days. Its sad isn’t it. Does it anger you as much as it does me?

How is this happening, why is this happening. Something needs to be done. Adopters cant MAKE schools listen alone, They need to be supported. These poor children need better understanding in schools! I’m not the only adopter forced to move their children from a school that didn’t ‘get it’, and I wont be the last. In fact, in the world of adoption, its very common. But why, when continuity and stability is what our children need, not a lottery of suitable schools/teachers, it shouldn’t be about ‘getting lucky’ with the right school, or struggling to find the right school, ALL schools should be the right school.

If your a teacher and you want to understand, buy and read a copy of this, read some adoption related books Louise Bomber has written some good ones, ask BAAF or Adoption UK about training, Your local authority post adoption team can probably offer you some support and training too, but talk to your adopted pupil’s parents, and most of all listen to them. Their idea’s might seem outrageous or bizarre, but they know their child’s needs better than you.

Our kids deserve to be happy in school and out of school.

Our kids deserve to be happy in school and out of school.

When we switch to focusing on the process instead of the outcome, the level and intensity of suffering decreases dramatically – Heather Talbert Forbes

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