Monday, May 24, 2010

Fun new trick

Today, with some interesting outcomes, I have tried a new little thing:

"Wow, look at that right there. You had a big feeling and did exactly what you FELT like doing. Here's a crazy idea. Why don't you try a do-over and do the exact OPPOSITE of what you felt like doing ... ya' know ... just for fun."

It will get old. It won't last. But it sure is de-escalating a lot of crap today. YEA for fresh ideas.

This is one of my favorites, because pretty much every single day of therapeutic parenting I have to choose to do the complete opposite of what I feel like doing. We have talked about that today, in fact. How sometimes I want to scream (not just at my child, but at lots of people - some moments of life sure would be easier without all these darn people - lol). Yet, I do the opposite of what I feel like doing. I have yet to regret doing the opposite of what I want to do when experiencing a negative feeling or emotion.

FYI: just now this resulted in them smiling, taking a deep breath and saying, "Mom, I saw that the yarn had fallen into the laundry basket, but I did the laundry with it in there on purpose."


FYI PART DEUX: I found a smile and totally faked my joy over this accomplishment. I'm still reeling from the last few weeks (particularly the last seven days). This is what we call "Fake it Til You Make It." It's hard to just BOOM - have genuine loving feelings when you have been nit-picked to death for approximately 200+ hours straight. You do the opposite of what you feel.

Chock it up to one more tool in our arsenal, guys and gals. We are fighting a history, not our children. They didn't ask for it. We can do this.

I think I can, I think I can, I think I can ...


Lisa said...

Using. this. now.

Needed it and thank you.

Diana said...

I'm so sorry things have been so rough in your part of the world. It bites big time when just when we think things are going ok and progress is being made, BAM - we get knocked back down again and have to start all over. It is so exhausting and so maddening and so frustrating. Wish I could run right over and give you a great big hug!

I'm SOOOO happy you're finding de-escalation with this trick! Seriously, I am. I've tried it about a million times without success. It is entirely possible (and likely) the implementation of it has been faulty on my part. But for whatever reason, my kids just don't get it. They don't get that there are valid reasons they shouldn't actually do whatever they feel like doing.

To help them understand, I attempt to tell them I don't feel like cooking dinner so I'm not going to and they freak. I've tried to make it an "opposite day" game. It lasted 5 minutes. If I ask them what would happen if I did whatever I felt like doing (screaming, pummeling them into next week, running away for more than just a weekend retreat, etc) they just egg me on and taunt me and seriously tempt me to do it and if I don't step out, it just becomes an ugly, messy, contentious negative feedback cycle.

So why don't I do what I feel like, Because I can't, not even a for a little bit, because then I might not be able to stop and I have a real aversion to being the lead story on the 10:00 news. "Crazy Adoptive Mom Locks Kid in Cave and Runs off to Jamaica With Hands Waving in Air"

Hopefully as you continue to use it, it will work better, not worse. But most of all, I hope things will settle down for you SOON!

Meg said...

Christine - do you know of any blogs written by kids (now adults) that lived through extreme trauma and were raised with therapeutic parenting from adoptive parents? I'd love to read some.


GB's Mom said...

I tried it with MK years ago and whether it worked depended on how well I could disengage while using it. If I let any of my real feelings even dribble out, it didn't work. But that was me, unable to do the complete opposite of what I felt like.

yes-I'm a man said...

I agree with Diana. My children must not yet be at a place where they can make any connection with the possibility of doing the opposite of what they feel like doing. "Doing whatever you feel at the moment" is just how you live life according to them. There is no other way. Everything I have done on my part to convince them has been frought with much frustration.

Christine said...

It's like everything else in the toolbox. Whip it out every six months or so. Any sooner, and you're not changing it up enough. They will smell it coming. Use it too much, and they build up a resistance. It's like a virus! lol

Annie said...

You are SO inspiring!

I heard a talk once about motherhood and it made such sense. Look at a baby; a baby is totally, 100% selfish. What we have to do as parents is bring that little person away from all that selfishness....teach her to think of others, do for others. Because the definition of MOTHERHOOD is often being 100% UNSELFISH. So, I think of therapeutic parenting (the sort you do, anyway!) as RADICAL HOLINESS! You named it; doing the unselfish, loving thing when we want with every fiber of our being to do the opposite.

Not A Mountain said...

Keep writing! I learn so much from you, and you add sparkle to my day. How can you add sparkle when you don't FEEL sparkly? You don't have to be at your tip top to be great.

Happymom4 aka Hope Anne said...

Seriously, I wish I'd have had you around to read 5 years ago--back before we adopted our Dd. You could have spared all of us some trauma and post-traumatic stress stuff! We knew some about RAD, but not nearly enough. Had no clue what hit us the first couple of weeks--very shell-shocked. Her "honeymoon" period lasted all of about 24 hours and then the fat was in the fire--over in Russia! Don't even start me on how perfect strangers pouring love and sympathy on your RAD child makes it waaaayyyy worse . . . because they are just SURE mean American Mommy and Daddy don't know what's best for dear little princess . . . Bleech. After almost 3 weeks of that . . . it wasn't pretty. Now almost 5 years in, we are doing pretty good except for the frequent "dripping" of the raindrops so to speak . . . the small stuff that is bearable compared to what you used to live with . . . but it's awfully annoying still at times--and wearing. But we're getting there--she IS attaching and learning to trust and learning to love!

Hang in there . . . give yourself some "you-time"!

Jennifer said...

I posted but I don't think it made it through! Just wanted to see if you would PRETTY PLEASE do a post on "the top 10 therapeutic parenting things to do if you are drowning and can't remember one word you've ever read about therapeutic parenting and just need to get through this next day". I know 10 is a lot, but then I can mix them up, right? Pretty please?

Annie said...

I'm with Jennifer. That would help! It's hard to remember key points from thick books while in the middle of a sometimes-physical battle.

J. said...

that's going in the tool belt right between practice that skill over and over from Lisa and out crazy the crazy.

Cathy Givans said...

tried this with Chris today and to my surprise, HE WAS ABLE TO DO IT! HUGE to me! YOU. ARE. MY. HERO!!!! :)