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Trying to get my head around giving a 7 year old a bottle

(15 Posts)
JellyBellyKelly Sat 14-May-16 20:05:02

DD is 7, placed 2 years. She is and always has been very emotionally immature. (Background is one of neglect).

She is also very manipulative of people's attention, by which I mean she will find a 'hook' and then use it repeatedly in order to get the attention she feels she needs.... Be it good or bad attention; makes absolutely no odds to her whatsoever.

She loves acting like a baby... Everywhere. Home, school, everywhere. She uses very babyish voices and language (says things like huggy, not hug) and (being the beautiful blonde blue eyed child), I have no doubt this is used - subconsciously - to successfully get the attention she craves so much.

Every so often, she speaks of wanting a bottle. This is always accompanied by immediate regression into very baby like behaviour... Foetal position, sucking thumb, saying 'goo goo, gaa gaa' etc.

I know I should just do this no let her regress as she is filling in gaps with her development. I just seem to have a real block. I am not a tactile person myself and I know without a showdown a doubt while her a bottle she'll be stroking my face, my eyes, taking strands of my hair and tickling my face with it (she's done this before in similar scenarios).

My DM had a severe mental health issue when I was a child and, although I didn't identify it during the adoption process, I wonder if part of my discomfort at this idea is the fact that what is going on mind is so far removed from her outer appearance (I.e. that of a 7 year old). That probably doesn't make sense to anyone else.

I also worry that it will set her back, not forward... It will be another hook... And that she'll still be craving it in months or years. And while some might think 'so?' I am just not happy with the prospect. I just can't seem to get over this block, whatever it is, and be comfortable with the thought of doing this. But I have a niggling doubt in the back of my mind it might help her.

So, can anyone give me any tales of using this 'tactic'? How did it work out? How long did you do it for and is there a compromise that will allow her to regress without going down this particular route?

Thanks as always for any advice you can give.

JellyBellyKelly Sat 14-May-16 20:07:42

shadow of a doubt while giving her not showdown a doubt while her

Hopefully you can translate the other mistakes!

RatherBeIndoors Sat 14-May-16 20:36:43

I think you know already that this is something she needs, for exactly the reasons you've said about developmental gaps. Amber Elliot writes really well on this, and says something like "professionals etc might think that the more you give nurture, the more will be craved; but it has been proven that the more you flood traumatised children with nurture, the more you help them grow resilience to the point that they find their appropriate balance" (I am summarising because I only have her book on kindle and I can't find the right page - the book is called "Why can't my child behave?" and it's really, really good).

We use regression here, usually when LO asks for it or seems to need it. I have been on post-trauma adoptive training though where they recommend actually building in regression, so not waiting for the child to ask for it. I have found it helps on days when LO is feeling emotionally dysregulated and wobbly, it just seems to re-set her and give her a bit more calm. If her emotions are out of control or she is scared she will describe it as feeling "little". She is not noticeably baby-like outside the home, or with people other than me. I just say that in case you worry about it escalating smile

Do you think it might help you feel more in control of it, if you had a structured period of it? So, perhaps designating an hour, when you are going to rock her, feed her if she wants, stroke her etc, reassure her that she will always be your baby no matter how big she gets. And at the end of the time, tell her when you're going to have baby time again, but that this one is finished now and you need to gently get on with another activity.

The other thing that comes to mind is looking into the nurturing games you can do through Theraplay. If your area doesn't offer training in it, there is a very good book of the games you can get through Adoption UK. They are short simple games which are designed for the adult to lead and control them, but they provide gentle nurture time and they replicate some of the "baby development" stages in different ways, such as allowing time for the "gaze", or lots of noticing things about your child and having gentle touch. That might feel more age-appropriate for your comfort levels, but still give your daughter some of what she seems to be asking for?

This was an essay - sorry. The regressive babying behaviour is quite intense to provide, and quite draining sometimes, so try to make sure you have some time to yourself to look after you too flowers

BarkGruffalo Sat 14-May-16 21:56:27

Oh poor girl, she's definitely asking for some reparenting. It sounds like it's really hard for you though - is there someone you can talk to? A counsellor may be a good idea to help you process your own feelings around it. I know as adopters we are supposed to be all about the child but - when we are - it can bring up a lot of issues about our own childhood and the parenting you received. Talking it through with a professional may help you process your own issues and feel more comfortable with what your daughter is asking.

FWIW I had counselling because I really struggled with how fantastic DP was with DS and DS's string bond to him - something I never had with my father. It really helped me and just by talking through how I felt and how I had been parented made me more able to accept their relationship and improved my relationship with DS.

SpookyRachel Sat 14-May-16 23:55:47

I also think theraplay might help here. Or commit to spending ten minutes a day playing games that emphasise physical and emotional connection: massage cream into each others' hands, draw round her body on a big piece of paper then decorate it, tap out weather pattern on her back, be mummy bird feeding her treats...

And I think you might consider some therapy for yourself. It's a great start that you've identified your own blocks here. Our children's behaviour can be very triggering - I am going through similar myself at the moment with my dd's aggression. Takes me back to being a frightened child again and the emotional reaction is intense.

Best of luck.

JellyBellyKelly Mon 16-May-16 18:03:50

Hi all

Thanks very much for your replies... They've given me food for thought especially the counselling thing. I'm not 100% sure I need that (although I will give it serious consideration and am open to it), but I definitely think I need to spend some time really exploring this in my own mind to understand more. In the time I've spent thinking about this since posting I've realised it's the baby bottle itself I have trouble with, not the associated behaviour regression or touchy feely stuff (which, while 'annoying' isn't a 'deal breaker')

Last night we had some milk for the first time... given in a sports type bottle rather than a baby bottle but with a story and lots of cuddles/back stroking etc. She enjoyed it I think and I didn't feel uncomfortable... So what I'm thinking is I'll find something like this, which is far enough removed from a baby bottle for me, but close enough to it for her. At least while I'm working this all through in my mind.


What do you think?

SpookyRachel Mon 16-May-16 19:03:41

I think you've been amazingly open and thoughtful on this thread, and that cup looks like a great way forward. Really glad last night went well.

JellyBellyKelly Mon 16-May-16 19:15:18

Thank you, Spooky, that means a lot


I luffs this place sometimes.

SpookyRachel Mon 16-May-16 19:33:47

smile flowers

RatherBeIndoors Mon 16-May-16 19:44:10

That looks like a brilliant option - anything that makes this sustainable for you has got to be a good idea, because you're the one in this for the long haul, so it has to be a way that protects you too. It sounds like you're so in tune with your DD's needs. You're doing an amazing job.

JellyBellyKelly Mon 16-May-16 20:52:45

Thank you so much Rather I really appreciate that


marmeemarch1 Tue 17-May-16 10:03:54

I struggled doing this with my dd. It felt very uncomfortable to me. Our therapist said that we should set limits around this and only do what we felt comfortable with. So we agreed that we would have certain times a week where we would do this for a set amount of time. And we were quite firm around the boundaries of this. We got her a box of baby things that she could get out at this time.

And we talked through how I would have liked to have had her in my tummy and how we would have held her after she was born and what we would have done with her as a baby. I think it's called a claiming narrative. She no longer asks for the bottle or baby box but occasionally asks for the story.

I think the nurturing action is more important than the baby paraphernalia and we have used fruit shoot bottle, or feeding her chocolate buttons as a substitute too. Also our daughter seems to only do the baby thing with us when she feels ok. She wouldn't regress at school or with other people, grandparents for example. And I was reassured this would be the case.

I agree with the above re. Theraplay games. There is a book called parenting the child that hurts which I found useful.

I have wondered if I found this hard with my dd because we had some attachment issues. She had a very superficial attachment with us. She would say the right things but it didn't feel right. We have had two lots of therapy sessions and the difference is amazing. I was wondering whether this is the case for you and whether you are getting could get any support with this?

JellyBellyKelly Tue 24-May-16 21:32:09

I have been thinking about this thread for days. It has been incredibly thought provoking for me... Especially this bit;

I have wondered if I found this hard with my dd because we had some attachment issues. She had a very superficial attachment with us. She would say the right things but it didn't feel right. We have had two lots of therapy sessions and the difference is amazing. I was wondering whether this is the case for you and whether you are getting could get any support with this?

I think there may be attachment issues. I don't know if they're on her 'side' or mine. Superficially she seems attached to me. But I'm not sure I'm attached to her, I've realised.

Can I ask what sort of therapy you received and how you accessed it?

marmeemarch1 Tue 24-May-16 21:54:59

Hi Kelly, we had DDP therapy which was organised by our adoption agency who organised funding through the adoption support fund. There is quite a bit of funding out there at the moment do it is worth trying to access some.

We spent 12 weeks doing parenting session and then had two lots of 12 sessions with us and dd. The first lot focused on attachment and was around getting her to acknowledge feelings and use us for support, the second lots was more focused on PTSD as she had some difficult experiences.

Also was recommended a book which really helped me.

I hope this is helpful, let me know if there is anything else you want to know

Italiangreyhound Wed 25-May-16 00:12:59

Hi JellyBellyKelly, I just wanted to say I think regarding your dd it doesn't matter too much what cup or bottle you use but she needs this to help build her up.

Just so you know how these things are not so unusual my birth dd, who has autistic tenancies, has always sucked her thumb. She was always very keen on the idea of dummy. We never gave one, I would now if I had a new baby (!) and she found her thumb! She is 11 and still sucks her thumb. At about age 4 I caved in and got her a dummy, she used it for a bit, at home, but eve went back to her thumb! I am still waiting for her to stop sucking her thumb.

My son is adopted and he sometimes needs 'babying'. He is not too far off six now but he is very emotional and has just discovered the old running up and being picked up and being hugged.

We have started theraplay and it is really good.

JellyBellyKelly, for you, if this is bringing up any issues for you - I totally suggest getting counselling. I have had counselling for fertility issues and most successfully of all I've had CBT (Cognitive Behavior Therapy) for anxiety. All really good. I went via GP for mine, he referred to hospital. This was all a long time ago.

In the last few years I've had counselling for disordered eating, the disordered eating started a long time ago and I tried to just diet and lose weight, in the end I found talking therapies far more helpful to understand why I had problems with food.

I guess I am just a fan of counselling as it works for some. I think therapy/counselling is really very helpful if you get the right kind.

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