People … all ages and all stages … can allow shame to own them.

Trauma can produce, in some people, deep and overwhelming feelings of worthlessness.

This can then manifest itself in many different ways. Ironically, it appears in some as narcissism.

Weird, huh? Looking at that person who says they are above it all and expects the rest of the world to revolve around them … THEY feel worthless?

Yup. As a matter of fact, they do.

We made some coping cards this week. They state a lie, followed by the truth. Example:

I must keep doing bad things because I am bad.

I am GOOD!
I was born GOOD!
Everyone makes mistakes, and so do I.
I do not need to punish myself.
Feeling more pain will not make things better.
Doing the right thing will make things GREAT, and

We have made several of these, letting the section titled “Answers to Usual Objections” on this page spark ideas for us. We have these cards taped up around my kid’s bed. We have started to read them morning and night. We do them playfully and get silly at any sign of them shutting down.

This morning, they were cycling in and out of regulation as we read, I made a guess. “Perhaps you are afraid of letting go of the shame. You are afraid that you will be getting away with being bad, and that would be wrong.” Slow, soft tears began to pool at the bottom of their eyes.

Our kids feel like it is their job to punish themselves for the rest of their lives. That is why they sabotage the good stuff. That is why there is payback constantly (payback guarantees a consequence, which they believe, is what they deserve – all the time – no matter what).

Now, can you see how a parent who is feeling deep shame may really struggle to help their own child whose feelings of shame are the same – times a million – and on crack? Do you use negative self-talk? Do you have unresolved trauma, shame, loss, etc.?

Another thing we do when my kids are talking about something very deep and difficult, is to step outside of “us” and do the work with someone else. For instance, “Your friend Emelia [not real name] has gone through a lot of trauma, too. I bet she might be tempted to use her bodily fluids in really gross ways, because she feels gross on the inside. Which one of these lies on these cards is she believing? What would you tell her?” And then I pretend to be the friend, and make all the common arguments (that my very child makes). This does not set off a light bulb in their brain. They know what we are doing. My kid is GREAT at advising other kids in these moments – real or fake. However, my kid still believes that they are the only one who feels it so deeply and so genuinely. We do it anyway. It is just one more day of repeating the truth and creating new ruts in her brain.

If just reading about it causes you heart palpitations … you’ve got some stuff, my friend. You need to help YOU! What are you doing to repair yourself, first? Do YOU need coping cards (I’ve had so many coping cards over the years, I could have built a house with them)? Do you need time with a therapist who can walk you through it (I tell people all the time that I think attachment therapy may have been more for me than the kids! lol)? What are your reasons for not helping yourself? Why are you not seeing a therapist? Why are you not directly addressing the very things that are stalling everyone and everything in your life? Write them down and look at them.

Stare at them.


Then do what you have to do. When I finally addressed my own stuff, it didn’t just change me, but everyone I touch.

The hardest part is just getting started.

When traumatized kids are having times of whickity-whickity-whack, all of the basics tend to go out the window.

Those basics then become painful for us to do. Sometimes they are nauseating. No one can ever explain to you what it feels like. Knowing you NEED to hug your kid 10 times a day, but this is the same child who has violently pushed you away with every breath … it’s not normal and it. is. not. easy.

I get it. If no one else in your life gets it, my friend, I GET IT. Traumatized kids have a deep desire and need to repel others because they believe they can only trust themselves. They do it, not just with their words, but their very stance … walk … facial muscle tone … breathing. Some of you are thinking, “What the heck, lady?” while others are jumping up and down in front of their screens right now screaming, “Yes! YES! She really DOES GET IT! It’s not just ME?!?!”

Yup. Just the way they walk … or stand. It’s enough to make you go running down the road screaming like a lunatic.

Our kids have such a high cortisol level that their body odor is not “normal.” Don’t believe in the power of our own scents and pheromones? Live with a traumatized child. Unfortunately, their body chemistry is working in the opposite direction of what most of us would want. It’s not typical body odor. It is not immediately repulsive. It’s just a slow constant. I cannot put it into words, but many of you experience it.

So, I realize what I’m proposing today is going to really tick some of you off. Like … really. I am going to ask you to make a one-week commitment to three of the basic tools of attachment … with … YOUR child. Yes, THAT child. The child whose clothes you can’t stand to fold, and you’re not even sure why, but just holding them and looking at them triggers a post traumatic stress reaction to your core.

Yeah … that kid.

And I’m asking for A WHOLE FRIGGIN WEEK just a week. I also expect you to come up with some sort of reward at the end, for yourself. The emotional aspect of love is reciprocal. When you are the only one giving, it chokes the emotional feelings until they are completely dead and gone. Nada. Zilch. Not even a tingle. You need to reward yourself for doing this every day for a week – for giving your child the life-changing medicine they so desperately need, even though it is really difficult and challenging for you to give it to them.

I will be rewarding myself with food. Probably something involving chocolate and ice cream. I will not decide until the week is over, but it will be fattening, and it will be EXACTLY what I’m craving on that day.

Here is the Challenge:

10 hugs a day
10 minutes of FUN attachment-inducing games (involving touch and/or eye contact)
20 minutes of doing something fun YOUR CHILD wants to do

For seven days straight. They cannot lose any of these things – no matter what. They get it every day for a week – no matter what.

Make a chart, if you need to. I have to make a chart. With five kids, it’s amazing how fast the day goes by without meeting therapeutic needs. Ten hugs a day is A LOT. I also am making it a challenge so I WILL DO IT! I’m not super human. I don’t want to do this. I still have the hurtful things that were done and said over the past 30 days swirling in my head. I need accountability. Congratulations – you’re all my accountability partners. We need the refresher. I need the refresher. I know I need it, because I hate the idea so very much.

So, comment that you’re doing it with me, if you want. More than that, blog or journal about the week. I would love to link to any of your posts next weekend. Tell us how it goes, what you hate, what you discover, what you see in your child, etc. I’ll do the same.

The comment section is also a great place to list ideas for the 10 minutes of bonding activities – finger play games, clapping games, stare contests, relay races holding things forehead-to-forehead, etc.

Here we go …