I came across a blog I wrote a few years ago now and it still rings so true I wanted to share it with you again! So here you are:
If I were to write a manual that arrived along with every adopted child I think the first thing I would list under operating instructions would be:
1. There is more, in every moment, than what you see on the surface – DIG DEEP!
It seems like that is a given, I know, but it is a very hard thing to do. It needs to be SO intentional! What I know FOR SURE is that there are more pieces to every puzzle. With any given hard behavior, or pout, or when something is stolen, there are angles that need to be uncovered before we can really deal with the causation and work to change the behavior.
Let me try to put all the pieces of one puzzle on a timeline for you. Some of them raised flags at the time they happened, but I didn’t put it all together until the final blow up!
Wearing zip up sweatshirt even when it was hot. Got really mad when told to take it off. Stomped and slumped. Big sighs and eye rolls.
Kept sitting wrapped up in a ball.
Found wearing siblings tank top as it was sticking out under other shirt. Took it without asking.
Sibling asked for it back. Sibling upset. Finding more things have disappeared.
Lies to cover it…"I don’t have a tank top on." "It is mine." "I didn’t think you wanted it." Snotty attitude. Rolling of eyes.
Slamming things. Walking away when people are speaking to her.
Stuff is really starting to spin and it is beginning to affect the whole household.
Caught taking baggies of left-over food and putting it in her shirt. When told to put food back…"I don’t have any food"
"I didn’t take anything." I could see the baggies sticking out of her shirt.
Took more clothes of sibling. Had a bra on that was sib's. Denied it. Said it was hers. Very clearly not hers. Accused sibs of stealing hers. (umm they are NO where near the same size) This goes on and on and on.
Okay, so I think that is enough of the story to help illustrate my point! Many of you have probably experienced these kinds of days!
First let’s look at what was happening in the moment:
Lots of lying
More eye rolling
Accusations about others
And much more!
Now we need to DIG DEEP! Because I know there is always more to the story than just the surface, I am committed to figure this out. There is no reason for this child to steal food or clothing – she has plenty of both.
I ask the question to myself…Is this Deficit or Defiance? This child has deficits…some of which are the inability to ask for what she needs and to trust that others will meet her needs. Especially in times of high anxiety, she is unregulated and her compulsiveness is beyond her ability to control. She has irrational beliefs about others and really has a very difficult time believing she is worthy of goodness. So, we look at the whole picture to find out the causation.
Are you ready?
On Monday her laundry had been done and she didn’t get a couple things back (you know how that goes-just a mistake) and those things included her bras. (They had gotten done and hung on a rack and forgotten)
Tuesday- she used the sweatshirt to cover it up rather than ask.
Wednesday-wore the tank top in place of bra rather then ask for hers.
Thursday-took sibs bra rather then ask for hers.
Three days of totally gross behavior, accusations, hurtful words and behaviors because she couldn’t ask for her laundry!
The reality is that it took me 2.5 days to figure it out, but because we figured it out we could all have more empathy. This was not just defiant behavior, this was deficit. Even her sibs could be empathetic when they understood where it all came from! (disclaimer- we talk about our deficits all of the time. Everyone in my family is aware of what losing your primary attachment figure and living in trauma can do to a person. So that helps.)
This kind of work promotes healing!
Yes, I wish I would have received a manual in the beginning telling me how to do this – it would have saved a lot of pain and hardship for all of us, but I didn’t. I am doing it now and teaching others, that is what matters!
Dig Deep My Friends, Dig Deep!