IPCG Session Live Q&A 10/11
Facebook Q&A Answers 10/16/17
You are right Dina...comforting works best. Your Child's Limbic System is really being triggered. When you giver her a time out or take something away she is being re-triggered. I really feel like really knowing her Emotional Age and parenting from there is your best bet. We talked about this on the New Member's Class. So I will leave it here until you are able to take the Emotional Age Matters Class.
Nicki we talked a bit about this in the New Member's Class after you posted it here but I have a few more things to offer. Meeting him where he is at will lessen the frequency of melt-downs. So you take a combination of parenting him from his emotional age, being in tuned to all of his anniversaries, being extremely intentional about the basic assurances of life and keeping yourself alive when you are not together to start meeting his emotional needs. Because of his earlier move from you and others he has to be extremely anxious about that kind of move happening at any moment. He is most likely very hypervigilant and is waiting for every thing to change at any moment--that's exhausting and scary. He can't believe any differently at this point- this is his reality. We've got to get his Limbic System to calm down before he can stop having tantrums. So, I would urge you to get his emotional age range down. Then I would take a calendar and write down every move he has ever made or loss he has ever experienced along with other negative life experiences. I would never never mess with food - don't use it as a punishment or motivator. Basically he gets it just because he is he...he is worthy of the goodness. Have food always don't get caught without it or having to push it back timing wise. Make sure he is warm or cool and comfortable. Comfort is key. Minimize transitions as much as possible. Make sure you keep yourself "alive" when you can't be together. Use a sensory approach here. Sleep with his clothes and pajamas. Put your pillow case on his pillow before you throw it in the wash. Make sure he has pics of you. Send food if possible. Okay that's a lot. I'll stop there. I think you are wise to jump in quickly and with great effort. This is a key time to help this guy...before Testosterone kicks in and makes everything so much harder for him to regulate. Step by step my friend. We'll get there.
Here's the thing I would highly suggest you take the Emotional Age Matters Class to zero in on her range. Then I'd begin to parent from there. (remember not to go past 13) This will begin to help her to be more successful in her relationship with you - which matters most. The other HUGE piece that is going on here is that she is really at an age where she is working through identity and that is why she is struggling with rejection and abandonment in regards to her bio-Mom. She is constantly dealing with Shame. You know, Guilt is "I made a mistake" but Shame is "I am the Mistake" Our kids often get stuck in working out that relationship with bio-Mom because in their "child's mind" that relationship or lack of relationship defines them. She believes she is the cause of Mom not being able to do it. Her identity is all wrapped up in being...not good enough, not worthy, not loveable. The best way I know to help our kiddos learn to believe that they indeed are capable of making a positive impact on the world and all of their relationships because they are "good" to the core is to get them into a volunteer experience in an area that they are good at. (Not that they could claim they are good at it..you just have to know) And to get them doing random acts of kindness. If you go on my site www.tohavehope.com and go under time with Stacy I think...there is a Free Training area and you will find a Random acts of Kindness Bingo card. You could use it as is or just use it for ideas. Here's the catch though...You need to do this with her. Then you can use those scenarios to "show" her later all the good things about her. I'd start there so much more to put in place but we need to take it slow so as not to create more anxiety.
Boy this is a hard one. I'm wondering how he is doing at home and school. Here are some thoughts I am having. 1. Seems that the label may be the difference between YOU having to be his sole support or having help with that as he gets older. 2. One thing I have seen is that many of our children go towards military service as an option but are put into a non-active unit. Seems the armed services are pretty good at spotting an individual who is unstable in high anxiety situations and choose not to give them a gun. Which is great but I do know quite a few of our kiddos who came out very disappointed. 3. Is this a job through school or will he be able to keep it after he graduates? Is he willing to stay at home for a while? Staying at home would help him to stay regulated and successful. Hope this helps somewhat. I know Time is a Ticking...
Steph I think this is a bit about emotional age combined with high anxiety-emotional age goes way down. Many times we just need to "move" 2 and 3 year olds...they can't reason, take in multiple directions or put there emotions (wants) aside at the very moment we say we want them to do what we want them to do. We often bypass the talking and take their hands and move them. See what I mean? Also, I would dig a bit and see if you come up with an anniversary going on for him right now...sounds like that could very well be happening. Need to meet him where he is at.
Okay so the key here is to literally teach your kiddos how to have a (healthy) relationship with whomever is visiting. Tell them exactly how to do it. Teach them what the expectations are. That nothing is changing. Paint them a picture of how it is going to go. How to greet them. Then what to do next. Set it up yourself. And next. And next. Move them from activity to activity if need be. Keep food as part of these experiences. Consistently saying to them - quietly in their ear- you are okay Mom is here. Keep them in eyesight always to help regulate them. Try to keep visits to a length of time that your kiddos can be successful in. Then it can grow in length as they can be more and more successful. Here's the thing...one child might do better planted at the table working on a project you set up and one might do better working out of a bin of items they like to do right at your feet. Meet them each where they are at. Use touch to help ground them. Headphones and a book on tape or music works well. Don't talk about visitors too far in advance it just gives anxiety a chance to grow out of control before they even arrive. Remember this is deficit not defiance. Maybe use the video I made for Family & Friends to help do some teaching? send your request and their email address to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get them put into a Members area that will allow them to watch it at their convenience.
Emotional age 2-3, Repeat, Repeat, Repeat.
Deficits - memory, trust, feeling worthy of good things at question, no cause and effect
thinking, issues with orientation of themselves and time and space, anxiety,
lack of abstract thought and so much more.
Meet any physical complaints as real. Keep on top of intervals you can give things like Tylenol and give it to her right on time. So, every 4-6 hours...get in there and give it to her at 4 hours before she reminds you. Give her something for comfort if you see any cues that she might has a physical complaint. "Hey you look like you might not feel very good, why don't you have some tylenol and juice and take a break"
Set timers, use calendars and make written lists to help her orient herself time-wise. Help her to use those tools.
Think CONCRETE. She is a very concrete thinker...meet her there. You've got this!
This is SHAME! So first think about this. Guilt is I am sorry I MADE A MISTAKE. Shame is I AM THE MISTAKE and I have to cover how vulnerable I feel. This is where she goes. Few things at play here. You are her emotional regulation so being at someone else's house in that kind of situation - everyone watching- was really high anxiety. Here's the thing...she can do it but should she? What is the cost to her? She's a survivor so we may not see her struggle in the moment but her shame reaction is a sign that there was a lot of anxiety. I would definitely consider the number of transitions she deals with in each day, how much she still needs you as a regulator and how often she is "in survival" (taking care of herself, not needing your help, etc) every day. I am thinking she would go to shame less if her world was a little smaller. Ultimately, you want to keep her from being triggered so that new brain wiring can be formed. Brain wiring that helps create new core beliefs about herself that will help her know that she is NOT a mistake. One more thing, be sure to do the Emotional Age Matters class so that you are parentin from her emotional age. (when you do that class activity don't go past her chronological age)