Friday, November 26, 2010

In case you forget your child is traumatized ...

... first, I assumed the extra acting out was a cyclical thing. But quickly realized that was not it.

... then, I thought it was a "we have a lot of new kids and people around" thing. But, again, it continued and didn't really add up.

... so, of course, it was the holidays, right? I mean, trauma and the holidays are toxic soup.

... then this morning, after some rather entertaining, "Will someone PLEASE consequence me for this?" random behaviors, including walking around outside in 40 degree weather while dressed for the Bahamas, I pulled us into the living room for some good, old fashioned prescribing.

"Let's go ahead and freak out. Get this stuff out there. Tell me what is going on. YELL IT. If you don't want to yell it, that's okay - I'll do it for you."

I'd get a quiet whisper about the holidays and then scream it at the top of my lungs. "I DON'T THINK I DESERVE GOOD THINGS!" I'd get another quiet whisper about not ruining yesterday and needing to ruin today, and I'd yell that out too (FYI - VERY therapeutic for Mom!!). "I DID GOOD ON THANKSGIVING AND SHOULD RUIN IT TODAY!" Remember, I'm in my bathrobe with a cup of coffee, jumping up and down and flailing when necessary - setting down my mug first, of course.

This went on for just a few minutes and then finally, just BOOM!

"And the T's are coming."

Dead silence. That was it. This all started when I announced the arrival date of some of our favorite people on the planet. They will be coming to stay a few weeks at the park.

"And the last time they were here I totally messed up the whole first day they were here and the whole last day."

Until my child reminded me, I had completely forgotten those very specific details. But this child never did. They were etched into their brain. They were terrified it would happen again and they would lose time playing with their friends. Their fear and self shame put them into a cycle that we have been witnessing for just over a week now. They just want to go ahead and blow it, because they do not believe they deserve to do well, and they aren't quite sure they trust themselves to actually DO it.

So, we have a plan. We will prescribe some poor choices and false consequences the day before they arrive - just act it out and be ridiculously silly with it. We will have a pow wow every single night until then, to discuss the stress level and the shame then focus on the truth.

We will set ourselves up for success.

And THEN we'll start dealing with Christmas.


Jamey... said...

That is an AMAZINGLY good idea. My daughter freaked the freak out for our holiday. I mean, wow. I'm shaking in my boots about Christmas.

CORoots said...

Very fitting. Yesterday was a breeze and beautiful and loving. Today. Is not. Maybe we need to yell about it.

Anonymous said...

When we were going to Kellie's (for trick-or-treat), V started acting out days before. I was like, what the frick? Finally she tells me she is worried that K's kids will be mad because last time we were there she raged and drooled and acted like a nut. I hadn't forgotten that, exactly, but it was so normal that it hadn't occurred to me to be concerned...

Trac said...

Every Holiday season for the last nine years our son goes through the Christmas melt down. Its a little better this year because he's old enough now to comprehend the "why's" & we can talk more openly. I know he watched Christmas happen around him & wasn't included his first few years...he doesn't remember that, but his heart sure does. He starts pushing us away in Oct. before Halloween...that way he's in control & won't be surprised when we hurt him. And he's sure that's what will happen. Christmas hugs to all the RAD families & their healing children. Hoping this years a little better than the one before.

Michelle G. said...

Thank you for this post! I have just been introduced to your blog and I love what you had to say about this situation. Thanks for the encouragement.

Hannah_Rae said...

Holy crap! We had, like, the SAME DAY! Only it just ended badly, just like it always ends badly, because he has to end it badly if he has a good day, or even HALF a good day. He has to end it badly.

It makes me so sad that he feels he doesn't deserve such normal things.



I think I will shout that with him tomorrow.



Erika said...

I love this idea. Sometimes I prescribe the child to make 3 mistakes and I will guess what they were at the end of the day. It took about 12 months for her to make mistakes on purpose but it was awesome to be able to talk about that fear and shame behind that.

L Kern said...

I wish you could come give my kids a big ol' dose of Christine's theraputic parenting. Like Nanny 911 only specialized for post-trauma kids. I hope you never stop sharing your experiences with us!

Kerrie said...

I'm getting a little nervous because Princess was fine with all the fam her, and fine today with them all gone (unless you count pee, which I don't because I'm sick of counting it), and everything's so different lately, that I can't tell anymore when there's going to be a freak out, and when there's not, and I'm not sure I like it.

Sooooo I appreciate the script for when the other shoe drops. If it does. I don't know anymore.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this post. Loved it. Had a hard day with my daughter and this gave me some new ideas for tomorrow.

BT said...

Oh, I just loved this post!

Over the years, we have had several revelations like this. Things I completely forget about, our P remembers vividly with shame a year or so later. Those shame etchings just run sooooo deep.

Perspective RAD said...

yup. holiday with a wth? and where did that come from? on Tday. Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity.