Advanced search

Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.

Please may I call upon your expertise?

(10 Posts)
MiscellaneousAssortment Tue 15-Dec-15 23:39:56

To own up straight off, I'm not posting about adoption exactly. I'm looking for advice about my son who's had a lot of trauma to cope with and will more than likely have more in his future.

Please do tell me to buzz off if it's not an ok thing to do - I've often lurked here, very occasionally posted, and basically, have so much respect and heart for the people that are adopting / have adopted (or fostered), I wouldn't ever ever want to make you feel invaded or anything like that.

Having often lurked on the adoption & fostering boards, I think posters here are experts (unwilling or accidental sometimes perhaps!) at helping your children process trauma and know how to create stability, resilience? Just deal with bad stuff in your child's past?

I'm rather at a loss and having read great advice and ideas on here I was hoping maybe I could ask you to share some of your wisdom? There are other reasons why I'm posting in the adoption board but don't want to think about it.

Sorry, get to the point Misc!

DS is 5yrs, and has had to deal with an awful lot of loss, instability and changes in his short life, that I couldn't protect him from though I wish more than anything I could have sad

It's all catching up with him now, since September really, which is particularly bad timing as Christmas and after is going to be particularly triggering, so he's going into a rough time whilst already not ok. Btw, I am seeking rl help (ed psych? CAHMs wait list, helpful Gp, setting up play therapy via a charity as may be quicker l)... So this isn't instead of those routes, but to help me help him right now, and make these next few weeks as positive as I can rather than cementing the damage already done. And what would be really bad for me to do in a misguided way?

How do you write good memories over the bad? I was going to say 'rewrite' but maybe that's not what I should be aiming for?

How do you help things fade into the past? Show it's not just what happens and break with that damaging continuity / expectations that says 'this is what happens, it happened before so it will happen again?'

How do you help a young child grieve and validate their feelings, but not get stuck in the pain? I guess grieve 'constructively' as it were? And how do you help a child grieve when loss is not through death? Some are, some aren't for DS.

How do you help them cope with bad stuff that might happen but might not - I don't want him to look back and feel betrayed by me lying, but equally so he needs protecting and his childhood kept.

How do you deal with the big stuff that children should never have to face (but some sadly do)?

And how do you keep going when your child's problems and hurt feel so overwhelming and yet you can't just ' make it better'?

Will post a summary of the specifics of anyone gets this far. Brevity not my strong point.

fasparent Wed 16-Dec-15 11:02:12

Do have empathy for your situation which is complexed in some ways, Trauma in children age 0 too 7 is not very well represented, most professional's , will only be able too assess beyond this age due too child's development sadly.
However do know of a few organisations which offer help and rest bite for family's in your situation where you can chill out with your son have a good holiday and meet other parents who may be in similar situations as your self. Hang on too this thread as have too do a bit of homework will post contact details later.

Kindest Regards.

mydutifullaunderette Wed 16-Dec-15 11:14:51

Hello. These are interesting questions, but obviously I'm sorry that you are in a position that you need to ask them flowers

Personally I would say that a big part of helping will be modelling that it's OK to have big feelings and that you will always help your DS with them. You could have a feelings box / feelings cards that your DS can use with you to identify what he's feeling. You can talk about it or draw it. I think being open about tricky feelings is the best way to help them fade, and for us, it hasn't had the effect of being stuck in the past. I think it's also often helpful to ponder out loud at calm moments, or when both semi-distracted (crafting together, or in the car etc) about things like "Isn't it odd how you can feel more than one thing at the same time? Like at the moment I feel happy because we're having fun, but also hungry because I need a snack, and a little bit hurting where I banged my leg." And see if your DS feels like joining in.

Some people also suggest using an approach called "parts language" where we talk about different parts of ourselves having different feelings - one way of doing it can be to get a huge piece of paper and take it in turns to lie down and draw round each other. Then when you get up, you can label each part i.e. "this hand is my drawing hand, because I'm good at drawing" and gradually work up to "this is where I feel a bit worried" which could be the tummy or the head etc. Let me know if this doesn't make sense!

I would take it one day at a time in terms of re-building security and trust in what happens, so maybe overdo it for now and really explain every day what's happening, have a picture calendar for the day's schedule, keep your world fairly small until you feel your DS is a bit more settled...

We also like Virginia Ironside's "Big Bag of Worries" book which is a nice illustration of how to let other people help you carry secret worries.

fasparent Wed 16-Dec-15 11:48:36

Hi back again was fortunate that was working on similar recently so had resources on hand., All children with PTS , and Trauma will be different you will know your child best also your situation , at what you read you can define for your self
Rest Bite www.mellor country
Can Google all these also.
You could also contact your local NHS Community nurse partnership for advice This is a new service started in MAY.
also suggest you contact your local community paediatrician, this we have done with a child with brain injury trauma, and follow up and support is brilliant. though had too wait 6 month's is well worth it though.

Wish you all the best, know it's difficult starting out too get support and help.

Kindest regards

MiscellaneousAssortment Wed 16-Dec-15 19:09:28

Thank you so so much, I knew (ok, hoped!) people here would fonts of knowledge and insight fsmile

It's for such an awful reason that parents on adoption boards have so much experience about trauma and early damage (I don't know how you're not perpetually raging actually) but I am very grateful for your help.

I will look up all the references and links as I can, have to pace myself as am ill, and beyond that, I find it so upsetting that I have to face it in quick bursts rather than immersing myself.

I went to the children's charity today and the person I saw there doesn't think play therapy is very effective & it can be damaging making a child feel like there's something terribly wrong by attempting to address it. Suggests I work with her and it will help DS indirectly. I can see the sense in that but it all feels a bit indirect and limited, when my instinct is saying it's beyond me and it's time to bring out the big guns. It's hard. I want to rush around solving it all now now now... But humans, especially young children, don't work like that. Bah bloody humbug.

I love the body feeling idea! By coincidence me & DS have talked a bit about that kind of thing, and I was really surprised how clearly he feels emotions bodily, was much better at it than grown ups I think! I asked him where he feels worry (tummy), fear (lower down tummy - makes sense, he gets a lot of diarrhea), love (heart), laughter (heart as well, which surprised me), and he had one for his throat too but I can't remember it annoyingly.

How does that kind of thing help him? I get that talking could help, and naming the fear makes fear powerful (slightly Voldemort that one!), but I can't make the leap from acknowledging it, to healing? I think because in my personal experience, acknowledging the bad stuff just does that, it doesn't make it go away... I guess in some ways that's what I'm struggling with. I want to help him and make it better, but some things are just rubbish and bad...

MiscellaneousAssortment Wed 16-Dec-15 19:43:52

Keeping his world small - actually that really rings a bell for me. We're doing too much and it doesn't matter if it's fun stuff, it's still adding uncertainty and chaos to his world. That could certainly be why Dec has ramped up his anxiety and fear levels... There are so many other big things that I was attributing it too, that hadn't thought of the little things having an effect.

Suddenly light dawns about why he's obsessed with the felt advent calendar we have. A way of making sense of it all, as well as a count down to Xmas?

I was doing a daily calendar for him before, with little pictures for who, what etc... But then my dad died in distressing circumstances last dec (DS's only father figure & very involved in DS life), so it all came to a halt as became a reminder of loss vs stability sad

mydutifullaunderette Wed 16-Dec-15 22:21:58

I can see why you are uncertain about the idea of someone working with you, and then you working with DS, because it feels "indirect" - it may be worth a try though, as long as the sessions you have give you some concrete things to try, because it sounds like what they are trying to do is facilitate your DS's healing through strengthening his bond with you - that's often how it can work best, and it has the side-benefit of avoiding bringing another new person into DS's world (who would be another "loss" when the therapeutic sessions came to an end). You do need to make sure you're supported well while you're supporting DS - this kind of activity is exhausting and will stir up difficult things for you too. That's also not to say that direct play therapy is the wrong thing - sometimes it might be what you need, but it's not the only way.

I think the feelings/narrating etc are all part of developing your DS's ability to name and process what he feels. No-one can take away whatever happened, but giving him (and you) tools to bring it out in the open, can take away the fear element of traumatic memories due course. The healing is a millimetre at a time and sadly not linear, but what you're doing is building resilience and confidence, so the events can be sort of assimilated. They will always be part of your DS's narrative, and the way he understands his life history, but in a fragmented way at his age. He won't be able to look at the whole situation as an adult can, so for now, you'll really be reacting to and supporting the things that come to the surface for him.

Where children have experienced trauma or neglect, there is a theory of a specific "pyramid of need" (different to the Maslow one people often quote). At the base level of need is 'feeling safe" and at the top is "ability to process and heal" - so really your energy and love need to go into ways to make his world safe, predictable and calm. With lots of repetition, reassurance and time, when he feels safer he's likely to start being able to heal.

I'm sorry for your losses, and that you're not well. One small step at a time, and don't forget to be kind to yourself.

(And some of the time, I am raging yes - you're quite right!)

ChristineDePisan Thu 17-Dec-15 00:32:02

The single thing DD has found the most comforting is hearing the obvious: "I love you, and I always will, and you will always be my daughter". Perhaps a slightly different phrase might resonate with your DS, as for her she needs to know that she will always be with us, but sometimes I think we forget to articulate the straightforward stuff

MiscellaneousAssortment Thu 17-Dec-15 18:20:18

I read your post in the night and was sad, but reading it today it might be the answer to the worst thing about this situation.

I can't tell DS I'll always be there, which he really needs to here as every other adult in his life has left him - death or being fucking bastard selfish wankers who of life was fair would have been the ones to die.

But I might leave him too, I have the same condition which killed my sister and father. And if I die, DS has literally no one in the world. It fucking scares me, and I don't want to think about it, but it's true. And it stops me saying 'I'll always be there' which I know he needs to hear - except it would be a lie.

But I can say 'I love you and I always will. You'll always be my son, and I'll always be your mummy'?

Haffdonga Fri 18-Dec-15 22:11:16

Miscellaneous I'm not an adopter so I hope you don't mind me interrupting. I didn't want to leave you latest rather sad post unanswered.

It sounds as of your ds (and you) have been through some terrible losses. You say you are ill too. I'm really sorry. That must be frightening for both you and ds. I don't know (of course) how much your ds knows about your condition or if he knows it is the same condition that your dad and sister had. I wonder if Winston's Wish would have some good ideas about how to help your ds process the feelings of bereavement, loss and fear?

I sometimes work with young carers. Our local young carers charity mentors individual dcs in school and runs a whole range of activities where the kids can just get together and be kids with others who are going through the same type of issues as them at home. Would that be an idea for your ds?

I know that some children who have sick parents can have very practical and seemingly (but actually not) self-centred concerns. Who will make my breakfast if you die? Will I still be allowed to have sweets on Friday? etc. I know one little boy who was very worried about who would look after him if his mum died. It was explained that his grandma would. But he was still worried about exactly how he would get to his grandma's house. It turned out his biggest fear was crossing the big road on his own to get to her house. Once that was resolved he seemed much less anxious. So, I suppose I'm saying you may need to be brutally honest and open to help your ds feel safer with explicit answers to 'worse case scenario' questions such as who would look after him if you weren't there if he wants to know.

I wish you and your ds a happy Christmas and happy long lives together flowers

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now