There is just no better tool than allowing everyone a chance to start over!
I often say that it is important to start new every day. I also say that it is even more important to start over every hour or every minute if things are rough! I know, I have been there and so have thousands of other families.
Your kids are trying to learn how to fit into your family, how to read your non-verbal cues, how to express emotion appropriately, how to trust, all in the midst of grief and loss, emotional immaturity and the many impacts of trauma that create hundreds of hurdles.
They are bound to struggle!
The reality is that as parents of adoptive or foster children we face our own hurdles too. For example, progress is so slow that sometimes we are convinced it isn't even happening. Or the lack of preparedness when it comes to our children's deficits. Not to mention the sheer exhaustion we face every day as we run to appointments, jump through paper work hoops, and just try to fill the bucket with a hole in it that is our child!
It is not a wonder we question ourselves, lose our calm, and don't always choose the most therapeutic way to deal with a situation!
The one thing I know for sure is that if we (the parents) get stuck in self-loathing, hopelessness, or an "I Quit" attitude our kids receive the message they already know so well - I am NOT lovable! The result is that they become what they believe they are. We then see hard behaviors, mistrust, no empathy or conscience, lack of drive, sabotage of goodness in their lives and so much more!
Teaching your kids the concept of starting over is a real GIFT to them and it will CHANGE the whole dynamic of your day as well!
Here are 3 instrumental steps to Starting Over...
1. Stop Talking
It is important to stop adding to the spin of emotion that is happening. We often fuel the moment with words - questions, accusations, ultimatums. This is not the time! Your child's Limbic System has kicked in so they can't learn from your words, they won't answer they way you want to be answered and creating moments when our children have to use old survival skills is undoing what you've done! If NECESSARY (and often it is not), you can come back to your questions later.
2. Create Safety
Our kids are survivors. If they go through an emotional experience, they are bound to be emotionally pushed to that survivor self. We can be healing even in the face of the turmoil if we take care of their basic needs. Make food available. Bring comfort items to them. Are they too warm? Are the cold? Fix it. Now DO THE SAME FOR YOU.
3. Show Them How It Is Done
Show them that when we mess up we can start over with the people in our family. Consistently use techniques that work. Deep breathing. Turn on the music and sing. Journal. Pray. Meditate. Whatever works for you. Let go of the behavior or words they are just the wall that keeps you from seeing your whole child. They are born of loss and grief. Those behaviors and words are not really about you. The hard stuff is laid out in front of you so you can help your child manage the very big emotions he is trying to deal with.
Starting Over is a tool that is key to survival as an Adoptive or Foster Parent, but it is also a very powerful tool we can teach our children to use in the face of their self-doubt! Start with these three steps and make change for your whole family!