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Thinking about PACE...

(17 Posts)
namechangesforthehardstuff Thu 06-Mar-14 10:25:09

Have panel soon – haven’t adopted yet but do have a DD (3.9) who is our BC. Have recently been thinking very carefully about how we will approach various situations with an AC. Have been thinking a lot about PACE and therapeutic parenting as well as Alfie Kohn’s stuff on unconditional parenting and trying to practice techniques and try things out.

So I am hoping that I can talk through, in some detail, a small situation wrt our DD (even though she’s a BC) here on the understanding that what I’m trying to do is become a better adoptive parent? It’s linked to the recent thread about punishing through rewards. Any discussion would be really helpful as I’m trying to unpick where this is about control etc and get to a greater understanding of therapeutic parenting in practice?

So my example situation is that DD has been very very reluctant to have her hair brushed recently. She hates it. The hair is curly-ish and down to just about her ears so not super long. She won’t have it cut into a crop (which would be my favoured outcome). It needs brushing once a day or it’s just unmanageable and I suppose she could just have it tangled but tbh I want her to look and feel cared for and part of that is having hair that isn’t matted.

So recently we had a few days where it took anywhere between forty minutes and an hour of discussion to get it brushed. And what I would do is say ‘OK well I can’t argue with you about this for an hour, we can’t do anything else until it’s done, let me know when you’re ready.’ But that actually started to feel as though I was withdrawing love and attention to get compliance, which isn’t very PACE. So what I did in the end was to wonder whether she liked having the argument so she could win it, because it felt like that. And she said she did. SO I discussed with her how we could both win and agreed that if she had it brushed she could have some time (10 mins) on her tablet afterwards. Now I am wary of this as it’s a reward I guess. But I thought that because we talked about how it’s a win win situation for us both, and co-constructed what would work it’s slightly different than me saying ‘if you…then I’. The other thing we are doing is having a timer; I have four minutes to brush it and then time’s up. She seems to REALLY like that idea.

But am I just fooling myself that this isn’t just a reward based thing? And if she were an AC where would I have gone wrong here and what could I have done?

I think I’ve clearly given her a way to push my buttons here. How could that have been avoided given that the hair does need to be brushed?

Thanks to anyone who has time to engage on this - I know some people might be thinking this isn't a real issue and I know it's not in context but I'm trying to tease out some ideas from a small situation if that makes sense?

TeenAndTween Thu 06-Mar-14 12:53:16

No idea - With ADD1 I went for getting her hair cut. smile

With both my ADDs the deal is that when they can look after it themselves, they get to choose the length, but if I am having to brush / wash / dry it then I get to choose (especially if they make a fuss while I'm doing it).

(I opened your thread to see what you were saying about Police And Criminals Evidence - thought it was going to be a compensation for harm done in BC thread).

What I worry with your approach is now your DD may demand use of her tablet every day, just for having her hair brushed.
I think the timer method might be a more practical ongoing solution. (Or get the hair cut).

Meita Thu 06-Mar-14 15:08:54

I haven't read Alfie Kohn though I do have one of his books standing on a shelf somewhere… so these are just uninformed thoughts, based on my experience with similar aged DS.

So you have identified (at least sort of) WHY she is doing it. Not because she simply wants to have matted hair, nor because she hates the physical sensation of hairbrushing, nor because she is afraid of whatever is going to happen after the hairbrushing (e.g. going out) and hence uses the hairbrushing to delay that. Rather, because 'she liked having the argument so she could win it'. Or maybe in other words, in her pre-schooler world where she never gets a say in any important decisions, and frequently is overruled, this is an area where she can, due to the need for her compliance, have control. Think about it - how often do you really want something and so you beg and plead to HER? And in contrast, how often does SHE really want something, and in order to get it, she has to beg and plead to you? Also, she is probably testing how much control/power she does have.
So what you did, you gave her some control. You gave her the option of demanding something of YOU (time limit) and she retains the control over hair brushing (she can always choose to miss out on the 10min tablet time).
Doesn't sound too bad to me. For the future, I would (in theory - have no idea how well I would cope in practice) try to remove the control element from hair brushing, but at the same time, give her more control elsewhere. So, the only reason she doesn't want her hair brushed is because it results in an argument which she can control/win. If it doesn't result in an argument anymore (i.e. you let her choose if she wants her hair brushed or not; or, you refuse to argue about it (e.g. you tell her what her options are, then let her choose, but no negotiation regarding the options, for instance 'You choose: Either we quickly brush your hair now, then go downstairs and play something you like together, or, we sit here and you do whatever you want and I will read my book, and we will brush your hair when you are ready. Up to you.)), she will lose the reason for refusing! And may well ask for it to be done. Especially if she gets more control in other situations.

In the situation where you simply waited for her to be ready, rather than arguing, I think that is a good way of handling it too, if you can (i.e. have the time to wait). As long as you are there, and available, you are not punishing her nor withdrawing love and attention. You are just refusing to enter a pointless argument, but you are not refusing to communicate.

What works sometimes is to distract from the control element of the situation, for example by introducing humour. Or by letting her brush your hair first. Or by listening to a story CD at the same time as brushing.

FWIW with my similar aged DS, also non-adopted, we do a LOT of role reversal these days, where he is the pretend mummy and I'm the pretend boy. He instigates it and I go along with it, I feel it lets him explore and make sense of our different roles and what power we have/don't have. He asks me to say the kind of things he'd normally say, such as 'but I don't want to go to bed!' and then his answer mirrors what I'd normally say, such as 'I understand that you don't want to, but I'm afraid you have to anyway'. It's quite interesting actually to see him reflect me like that, and at times he comes up with interesting new solutions for our old problems!

crazeekitty Thu 06-Mar-14 16:18:34

Only thing I would add is that with dd (much older..9) she responds well to 'i can see you're having trouble letting me brush your hair but part of my job as mummy is to make sure your hair is clean and tidy and cared for".

Sometimes it works and sometimes we still have the screaming vapours that I'm inflicting great pain om her when the brush is within a metre of her head.

KristinaM Thu 06-Mar-14 16:45:24

Can I ask why you think it's a control issue? I wouldn't like to sit still for ages having someone detangled my hair either. It's annoying and boring.

However, assuming that you are right and it IS a control issue - I think that giving her attention ( and time on the tablet ) when she does what you want and not giving her these things when she doesn't co operate is just fine.

After all, getting time and attention from people we like when we are Cooperative is a real world consequence. If I'm nice to my friends, they want to spend time with me. And vice versa.

A more direct consequence would be having matted messy hair because she won't have it combed, but I understand that that isn't acceptable to you . I would tempted to try it , but I'm probably a lot more hardcore than you.

What about trying it over a holiday , when she not at nursery and it might bother you less? You might need to be prepared to have it cut if it gets really bad.

I have a 7yo DS who has a mop of thick hair and someone at his table in school who frequently has lice. Need I say more? He hates having his hair combed but I don't think it's a control issues. For him it's about slight sensory issues and a dislike of sitting still . He can also be persuaded to sit still with a tablet. To me that's a win win.

KristinaM Thu 06-Mar-14 16:48:50

One of the hardest things about PACE is that you need to be prepared to let them face the consequences. That can be hard

Eg in your situation -having people look at your child with messy hair and judge your parenting

prumarth Thu 06-Mar-14 17:43:25

Hi name change. Firstly, I need to wave a great big qualification - I'm not a mum (yet!), however, based on the "punished by rewards" book, both of your responses to your daughter were spot on. So the fact that she gets some spare time to play on her tablet is a benefit of sitting still and letting you brush her hair. It's not that you have "bribed" her as such. And I think listening and understanding her reasons why she doesn't like it is awesome - it's not to say that you won't come up against this again, but the fact that you have discussed it and she can discuss solutions that benefit both of you is brilliant.
You sound like an awesome mum!

namechangesforthehardstuff Thu 06-Mar-14 18:50:39

Hi all - thanks so much for this some stuff to think about...

I am conscious that I am probably not as hardcore as I'd like to be in this area. I do occasionally find myself being more stern/telling off/authoritarian when I'm out than I am at home and that is because I am making it about me and others judging me rather than about DD and I know that's shit but I can't seem to help it blush. Am working on that. Lesson one.

It's not huge - you'd still probably think 'she's gentle/kind/too fucking lax' if you saw me with her in full meltdown but I'm not where I need to be so thanks Kristina for that smile

Part of my issue atm is that I need nursery to give us a reference for the assessing LA so I'm reluctant to let DD look like we're barely keeping it together at home. So lesson two is probably to let some things take their own course and pick my battles once nursery have said what a nice clean child she is

Am interested that no-one's really said it just sounds like traditional rewards. I am trying to avoid that.

And why do I think it's about control? Hmmmmmm. It just feels like it is. And she was very keen to agree with my wondering about wanting to argue and win (although she's under 4 so she'd be quite quick to agree if I asked her if she was a bear). Maybe that's because it would be about control for me if I were having this issue. And because she goes straight to throwing things at me. And following me to find me and throw something at me if I leave the room. So it feels like 'I want a great big row about this! With you! Now!' Is that control?

Meita DD does something similar to what you descibe your DS doing re role reversal except it's more that she tells me to forbid her from doing something or we have to pretend she's doing something really naughty. Like I use imaginary paint to paint her feet and tell her she mustn't walk on the carpet and then she does and I have to wail about my beautiful carpet grin

And pru congratulations on your approval - you are going to be truly awesome!

Buster51 Thu 06-Mar-14 22:12:06

I have recently been doing similar with DS, who has a a lot of control issues. Last nights was his homework, (3 words) this resulted in me saying that is fine you don't want to read those words, I'm just going to read my book now, when you're ready to work in your time we can, then we can move onto our "free time" to play etc.

He is very able, & capable of learning, this is purely a control thing. An hour later he gave in & realised it was no fun not having his usual play time & read the words.

I'm not sure if this is the right approach or not, but we have a set routine in place, & as much as he'd always love it to be play time mummy has my jobs to so as well as tea, homework & the like! (All areas he's tried to express control).

It seemed to work anyway, he did it, & then recieved his usual play time with me, & I expressed he could of had sooner if he had done his learning.

But I think that sounds great your approach, letting them realise they can gain that little bit of control of the situation if they only cooperate.

I'm not the most experienced mum here but I hope that helps smile

MyFeetAreCold Fri 07-Mar-14 09:39:57

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

KristinaM Fri 07-Mar-14 16:34:11

Well you should only choose to have a control battle over issues you can win. Do you think you can win a battle about tooth brushing?

It might be non negotiable to you but I think you'll find some children think it's up for negotiation wink

pinkchoccy Fri 07-Mar-14 17:10:32

Children with naturally curly hair can find it very uncomfortable to have their hair brushed. Brushing it can also make it kind of electric / static and also make it bushy. A wide tooth comb may be better and letting the hair be curly. A child can not help having curly hair that they are born with and it may look a bit unkept but so what. Maybe you have more of an issue about how she looks ? I also have naturally curly hair and it is cared for in a completely different way to straight hair and there is no way it can be managed. The weather effects how curly hair looks and damp weather will make it more curly, heat effects it to like if she gets hot. Leave in conditioner is brilliant as it stops the matting and makes it more comfortable to comb through. Treated right it can look beautiful. As a child I hated having my hair brushed it hurt and gave me headache and so boring!!

namechangesforthehardstuff Fri 07-Mar-14 19:55:06

I have curly hair smile it's not some gendered thing about her having pretty hair - I would prefer her to have it short. We use leave in conditioner and to brush it I have a tangle teaser - a comb is far worse in it.

I suppose I could just accept it matted and dirty but I think I would see that as me not doing a basic care thing (not judging anyone else's decision to leave their dcs hair) and I have a feeling that we'd just have to find a new fight anyway grin

I think the question about non-negotiables is at the heart of what I'm asking. For some things you decide actually they are negotiable, you find ways to explain others, you try to co-create solutions. But what else? Are there other things I'm missing?

namechangesforthehardstuff Fri 07-Mar-14 19:57:50

And also with acs how do you walk that line and maintain an attitude which communicates 'i am looking after you, I am a safe person, I will keep you safe'?

KristinaM Sat 08-Mar-14 07:55:21

You can decide all you like that things are non negotiable, but that doesn't mean you child will have the same belief . If THEY decide that they are not going to brush their teeth and YOU decide that's it's " non negotiable " , what's going to happen ???

Buster51 Sat 08-Mar-14 08:05:20

That's an interesting point, as DS luckily understands teeth brushing/getting dressed for school, bedtime etc is non negotiable (for now at least anyway!) we don't have battles there.

It's homework, eating, listening/responding to questions etc that we face control issues.

MyFeetAreCold Sat 08-Mar-14 09:56:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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