I've finally took the plunge and have arranged to see GP on behalf of DS, I don't know what else to do! I've been told that he is fine and doesn't need therapy etc but I just have a gut feeling it could only help him.
Just to quickly summerise so I can hopefully get your thoughts and opinions, and if I am just simply over thinking this and 'pinning' problems on him!
DS (5) placed with us for 7 months, how to put this, does not 'think for himself... he forever asks me, mummy where can i sit, mummy can i do this, mummy im going here, mummy can you do this? etc...which of course I can understand this could be usual 5 year old behavior?
as well he cannot (most of the time) have a proper conversation, he will repeat things (mainly from me) that I've just said there and then, or something I'd said/asked many months ago, exactly how I asked it as if the question is coming direct from his head. When engaging with others, he will repeat things I say, as though it is him saying it.
He seems to be constantly trying to think about 'what we want to hear' even down to when SW visits, or his school nurture group, DH and I know these are his 'rehearsed answers' that he simply says all of the time.
We don't 'quiz' him, and I try (my best) to not probe him to say well come on you've already told us that so try and think etc. We used to think it was a control thing, that he just didn't want to answer questions because 'we' wanted to know'. But recently it isnt even questions its generic thoughts/opinions/conversations.
I really don't think I'm explaining myself well here, but I have recently spoken with FC who said it sounds like regression. If so - how can I help him?! what should I be doing in these situations?
I am trying to encourage him to make his own choices, by saying 'what do you think' or 'just go ahead and do things this is your home etc' he is still very regimented.
Am I doing something wrong here?! I feel for him so much I really just want him to know he doesn't need to 'please' us. (please excuse any mistakes in this I'm rushing whilst at work!)
Talk to your school as well if they are receptive. Ours normal has an Educational psychologist with adoption experience who they refer to but (unfortunately for us) she is on maternity leave with no replacement.
I would say you need some pointers for you rather than for him as I suspect (unqualified) opinion that you need to separate out what is normal behaviour and what needs managing.
I've heard good things about Theraplay in terms of teaching parents - it might be worth checking if your local adoption team use this.
I think you need to accept that he needs to please you - it will carry on for a long time and isn;t a quick (if ever!) fix. DS is 8 and still is desperate to please anyone in authority and if he has a melt down or if I get cross with him he gets very anxious afterwards and repeatedly says sorry.
He still asks if he can go to the toilet (though I think that might be habit from school!) and he's been with me 7 years! 7 months is nothing!
Don;t be so anxious yourself to "fix" him. This is how he is at the moment and it isn't necessarily wrong for him just now - I suspect in my DS's case its because of an insecure attachment (which feels bizarre of me to think that because he is totally attached to me but he seems to worry that if he isn't just perfect that I will feel differently). We do talk quite a bit about how nobody is perfect and we all learn things by making mistakes but your dS is probably a bit young for those talks yet.
You can't make him feel secure enough to be more independent. You can just love him as he is and work on securing his attachment to you. Even at his age DS and I used to play a "I would even love you if..." where he would think up more and more bizarre things to do and I said "yes even then".
That's brill thanks Kew, I will play that game I have said things like no one is perfect and theres no need to 'be good' etc all of the time, but like you've said I just don't think he takes this in. Or if he does it still doesn't change how he feels. I suppose I just worry about the future - like how will this affect him long term?! But I need to just take each day as it comes I think like we have been doing, and just let him get on day by day how he feels safe at the moment. He is only 5 after all! He does get awfully upset if he doesn't 'win' 'makes mistakes' etcetc, again it all just links in with his need to be perfect. He often doesnt take part if he feels he may lose.
My DS sounds very similar - it really is a marathon not a sprint. They might hear you say that they don't need to be XYZ but they just don't believe it internally. I have at a similar age to your DS made a really big fuss of him when he did something wrong and kept going (he fell over in a sports day race and got up and kept running) and I made a really big fuss of how proud I was of him for being a "tryer" and how hard it can be to keep trying at something when you're not the best/fastest etc.
It does take a while to sink in and DS does still tend to hang back if he doesn't think he's up to scratch but he has actually taken notice of how important it is to try your best and how proud that makes me - even more so than winning.
The bizarre thing is that DS really is a very good sportsman - but still worries that he isn't good enough.
Hi Buster, your little one has certainly got a mummy who cares a great deal for him. Well done on making good decisions and only wanting the best for him. I really* do not mean that to sound at all patronising. Parenting is a minefield! What to do for the best! So hard to know. I think therapy, play therapy or something may well help. I would also suggest you see if the pupil premium at school can fund that and also speak to social workers re support/after adoption support etc.
I would recommend this game...
It is expensive but it is wonderful, it asks family members fun questions and offers the chance for loving touch (high five or hug etc) as kids and adults negotiate a walk through the park.
My ds often says 'I don't know' (A LOT) and seems to not always comprehend what i say! Today he asked about three times why the bus was stopping (each time he got a full answer) and he does that with the car a lot. I really do not know if this is normal for a three year old boy (almost 4) or not!
My dd never really quizzed me about stuff and I seem to remember if she did she accepted and understood my answers much quicker than ds. Is it a girl or boy thing, is it a tough start in life thing or is it just different kids??
I will eagerly hear anything you can share by pm etc.
Although my ds does not feel the need to always please me! He is pretty well behaved a lot of the time but not to the extend of saying what i want to hear. But I am curious to see what similarities there are with other 4 year olds who have come through the looked after system (if you are willing to share).
Thanks and good luck.
Who knows Italian what causes things - sometimes I can see a distinct differnce in what/why DS does things to his freinds that aren;t within the "normal" spectrum other times, not so much.
I don;t think at 4 his behaviour was much different to other four year olds except perhaps his obvious separation anxiety. Its only as he's got older that some of his behaviour has become more noticably different. Also it's partly that he is able to articulate some of his anxieties better.
DS is quite smart but still asks me questions that he's asked before and that he obviously knows the answer to. I have worked out that its often his way of being "seen", he just wants me to acknowledge his presence and can;t think of another way to do it. We have talked about differnt ways to start a conversation which is beginning to sink in although he know says "Can i tell you something..." about 15 times a day instead!
Thanks Italian, I will look at the link now
Kew your DS sounds so like mine in many ways, a lot of what you're saying rings true to me. Likewise he asks the same questions over and over or needs confirmation constantly with anything he is doing, it is like you say his way of being 'seen'. But when conversation is started he often can't answer and you can see his little mind either thinking I'll just not respond, or i'll think of what I should say!
I'm sure he mustn't be like it in school or they'd have said? I do probably worry too much though, my mum etc are forever just saying 'he is a "normal" 5 year old etcetc. DS did the whole constant asking questions repetitively Italian quite early on in placement - this has died down but it has "manifested" into other things... I do think it is all related to his general anxieties and the only way he knows how to get by.
I just hope I never make things worse!
Just a thought, mainly to Italian, lots of children ask lots of why questions and it doesn't seem to bother them if they have had an answer to exactly this question already. As the others have said, even in birth children, this can be a strategy to gain/keep your attention and focus, to keep you talking, also to some extent to test you (they know they are starting to annoy you, it's like they are asking: 'And if I ask you the exact same question again, will you still love me? And if I ask you again? And again?')
There is also the thing about asking the same question, it may not feel like the same question at all to the asker. So 'Why is the bus stopping?' and 'Why is the bus stopping?' might feel like a different question, the second time they are asking 'do the same rules apply here/now?' and the third time they may be asking 'do the same rules actually apply always/everywhere?' and I can imagine that particularly for a child who has experienced a lot of/recent lack of constancy/upheaval, it may be a way of working out what IS and what isn't constant, kind of working out the rules of how the world works. Because they can't really rely on their previous experience now can they?
But what I really wanted to say, if you realise that the child actually understands the answer and is just asking away to keep your attention or such (rather than because it actually feels like different questions to them), then you realise that you don't every time have to provide an 'answer'. If what they are looking for is attention and conversation, you can easily give them that by turning the question around 'what do you think? Why does the bus stop here in your opinion?', or use it to start a story 'Well I might say that the bus stops here because it is a bus stop, but let's imagine that actually there was an alien space ship that crashed on the street ahead and the alien is now looking for spare parts for their spaceship and has flagged the bus to find out if any of the passengers have a spare carrot to hand. What, why a carrot? Didn't you know that spaceships have carrots instead of nails and screws?' ... or 'shall we count how often it stops before we get off? Do you think it will be more or less than 5 times? You say more? Ok I say less. Let's see who is right!'
But don't forget that the repeated asking of the 'same' question MAY be a genuine attempt by the child to determine what is and what isn't constant.
Buster, sorry for going on a tangent in response to Italian. I don't have any experience with this but would have thought that maybe some sort of assessment would be needed before deciding on some sort of therapy/intervention?
Thanks Kew for the "even if you....would you still love me" game! DS seemed to enjoy this, although on his turn said "if I drew you a heart" bless him! But i will continue to play this
He did often change from love to "like" to perhaps that was just a slip of the tongue!
Hi buster, I think we've crossed paths before so sorry if I recap here. My eldest came into my care (she was originally my god daughter) slightly older than your ds following a background of severely traumatic abuse.
She was just like this, desperate to please me, to say what I wanted to hear. She was diagnosed with PTSD, severe attachment issues and numerous other things which aren't necessarily relevant here. I do think a diagnosis is important prior to therapy. She had years and years of therapy, following this diagnosis which finally ended about 3 years ago.
The psychiatrist explained it to me that she was 'shut down' and in survival mode, her brain registered me as safety therefore everything must be done to ensure that safety and protect it. There was no room inside her head for anything else and independent thought must be stopped incase it endangers her safety.
One of the key things that helped her was constantly playing the what happens if game. Where similar to kew s suggestion we would run fake scenarios over and over again so she could 'test' me and be reassured by my response.
So 'what happens if I spill milk on the carpet?' My response 'well we wipe it up, it's not a issue' it was over and over again.
Initially I was advised to allow her the safety of parroting my thoughts then over time I started to ask her what she thought or wanted. Clothes were a good starting point for this ie. which top would you prefer? Do you like this colour or this colour? Limiting her choices at first. And gradually when the world didn't end, when I didn't leave she learnt to trust both me and herself. It took about 3 years but Now of course she argues about everything and hates me on a regular basis (she's 16)
I'm not sure if any of that is helpful feel free to pm me or ask any questions if you think I maybe able to help further. But it sounds like you're doing all the right things, hang on in there it will get better it just might take time, which unfortunately there's no substitute for.
Its helpful to me Mama its nice to have a game I made up validated!
Thank you mama, a lot of what you've said I could apply to DS, some days I almost feel as though "he doesn't have his own brain" (sorry that's the only way I can describe it!) this week has been tough, on both sides, and admittedly I know I haven't dealt with it great in every situation! I just don't know how to to be completely honest.
Although those kind of games do seem to be helping, as he even started playing it off his own back this morning. He still can't say anything "bad" in the scenarios yet however.
I handle situations so badly at times I irritate myself! Must.remain.calm! It isn't his fault I may completely eat my own hat here, but I often find my self thinking (hoping) he'd behave "traditionally naughty" so at least I can have some sort of sense of what to do / not overreact to what others perceive as nothing at all. It's just tiring I suppose. Trying to coax reasons / feelings out of him as to why he does these things I KNOW is just ridiculous - I honestly need an off switch sometimes! Rubbish mum week!
Anyway, sorry I have gone on! Feet up & a cuppa I think!!
Buster, I remember weeks (months ) like that it is incredibly frustrating. Don't be so hard on yourself.
Have you discussed you concerns with someone professional? Started a referral process?
I know exactly what you mean when you say you long for some traditional 'naughty' behaviour. That's easy to deal with.
How is your ds with very simple choices? Every day for 6 months I offered dd the choice of 2 tops and 2 breakfasts, to begin with she would look to me to choose or try to judge what I wanted her response to be. But slowly painfully slowly she began to actually choose for herself.
How is his reading? I'm sorry I can't remember his age can he talk about the story a little? That was also a 'way in' that worked with my dd, as the pressure was off. It wasn't about her if that makes sense?
With playing the game he will build up to saying something 'bad' I'm sure. Have you tried reversing it too, ie. I have smashed this glass, by accident what would you do? What do you think should happen?
Again sorry if none of that helps.
Buster - I remember someone asking me in the first year "What it like being a mum at last" and saying that the biggest shock to me was not being anything like as good a parent as I was expecting to be!
Most of us are used to be much clearer about what we have to do to get things "right" and then our children wander into our lives and the clarity all flies out of the door and you just have to muddle along doing the best you can. I think thats probably true for all children but those with additional needs just give more challenges!
I came to the conclusion some time ago that wanting the best for DS, trying to do the best for him and loving him as a combination probably in the end is good enough even if I don't get it right all the time.
Which is lucky really because thats all I can do! I don't have any magic way of knowing what the right answer is.
Don't beat yourself up for doing your best - just keep trying to do your best and being "mindful" of the situation and move on - no good ever comes from striving to be perfect and failing.
Hi buster, just wondering how you are all doing?
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