Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.
Being “that” parent...it’s hard isn’t it?(27 Posts)
Just had another tricky day with Ds1 at school. His teacher is lovely but he did something totally unacceptable and was sent out of the class. Why won’t he behave? (I know why he won’t but it is more a plea). Am feeling utterly mortified and yet I know this isn’t about me.
I sense a long journey ahead...tried therapy (which has helped in part) but it’s so bloody exhausting. Constant battles. DS point blank refuses to talk about his birth parents. I sense so much anger in him (he is 6) but I don’t know how to help him let it go. And I am sick to death of being attacked, hair pulled, hurt, left with bruises. 90% of the time he is this gorgeous boy. Feel utterly helpless.
Feel like I have tried lots of things. Feel so upset
have a hug from me. I think its very hard to do life story work as the parent. Maybe he just isnt ready for it.
We've just completed over a year of life story work with a specialist. My son is 13 now, still 11 when we started. It was tough, on all levels, for 6 months he spent most of the sessions literally under the table wrapped in a blanket screaming his head off. It was a slow process to get him engaged with it. But your boy is 6, just a baby, he might not be able to to it yet, so honestly, I woukd drop it for now.
My son was quite volotile and could be very aggressive. What really helped us with exercise, lots of it, get the energy out. Tennis or a swing ball in the garden, nothing like bashing hell out of a tennis ball ! Swimming, we used to go three times a week, he would stand smashing his arms in the water, cyclying, scootering, trampolining, walking, lots and lots of walking. Wear him out with good activity.
But you are right, he will need a lot of input. Are PAS involved?
So sorry to hear this. I’m in a similar position (less severe maybe). Some teachers aren’t as sympathetic or understanding as we’d like them to be in understanding the reasons behind some of their behaviours, then they start using flippin sticker charts or traffic lights which don’t help guilt/shame (I’m work in education). Some schools have had attachment disorder training recently as it appears that this is a new focus in some areas... worth asking about if your authority is doing this at the moment.
DS is a tad younger, but has episodes where he crashes around hitting and hurting - maybe four or five times a week. Got sent home from nursery.
Really difficult and sometimes dangerous behaviour.
Someone else posted on here that it may help to think of these behaviours‘happening in front of you’ rather than ‘to you’ which I have found helpful myself this week.
Thanks Ted. He is also a very bad sleeper (which I am convinced is because of early life experiences). So I am not sure he is getting enough sleep so exacerbating the problem. I don’t force the life story work on him at all - it came up a bit this weekend for various reasons. He knows where the book is but won’t look at it and has never looked at it (apart from once).
I’ll try more exercise and more sleep. And for myself too. And will try not to reach for the wine when I want to numb my own humiliation. Wish I wasn’t always the Mum called to the door to be spoken to...
Thanks Mummy. I like that last piece of advice. And it’s true. The behaviour is happening in front of me. You are right.
Thank you for letting me know I am not the only one.
I was Miss Goody two shoes at school so at first blush I find this behaviour difficult to comprehend (but I do understand, I do. Just wish he would let me help him).
No experience or advice but just wanted to send
Hels, have you looked at NATP? Changed our life. (Only a matter of months in, but our home life could not be more different for it.)
Fatberg - I hadn’t seen it before but am now on their website! Thank you. I have done therapeutic parenting courses. I worry if I am somehow the problem. Feeling like an utter failure (am sure this feeling will pass but I feel utterly shite this evening).
You’re not the problem! The problem is everything that happened to him before you.
There’s a fb group that you can join without being a member (Therapeutic Parenting I think it’s called). That group has links to a few (free) trainings - only ten or five minutes long, but well worth the watch. And the membership fee was worth it for the letters to give to school alone.
Also try YouTube for Bryan Post or the Post Institute.
What kind of therapy?
Please ask post adoption support for Theraplay. It is really great.
My son is 7, came to us at 3, almost 4, so been with us over three and a half years.
We don't have the issues you do but our son doesn't want to talk about (or remember well) birth family. He was quite volatile crying etc) at times but Theraplay really helped. It's very specific and not just play therapy.
and of course you are not the problem... you will help him, but please also look after yourself!
Had similar problems contacted LA's School's Statutory disability team
for advice, they referred him too Community outreach team was put on a Pathway assessment plan, this brought on board lots of support such as play therapy, OT. and at the end an Educational phycologist.
Now awaiting Educational health care plan panel decisions.
School awarded an Extra £2000 for support in the interim.
You're not an utter failure and you're not the problem, though I totally get where you're coming from. It's rubbish when you're going through such a hard time, and as the parent of a fellow bad sleeper I can totally sympathise and empathise with how much worse disrupted sleep makes everything feel.
I've had similar anger issues with DD at similar age - although she keeps it together at school and then completely disregulates when she gets home. We're doing DDP via the adoption support fund which is helping, but am currently at the point where things feel like they have got worse before they get better.
I've heard Braveheart do good training on attachment for schools which might be worth recommending to your school.
Kim Golding has done some good stuff on attachment and I've been reading some of her stuff which is interesting and helpful. Ultimately, when it all feels like crap you need to look after yourself first but that's so hard to do I know when you're mentally drained. Therapeutic parenting is exhausting. You're not alone. Hang in there.
What's the drive to have him talk about his birth parents? He may really not be ready to go there just yet or may have no idea where his anger is coming from so making links back to birth family may not be helpful for him. Apart from anything else his anger may have no relationship to his birth family and may be more about the daily stresses of school etc.
How's his emotional literacy? I know my 6 year old can really struggle to link feelings in her body to how she feels emotionally and to find words for emotions (e.g. doesn't link sore tummy to feeling worried about going to the dentist). She literally had no feeling words when she arrived with us so we've spent lots of time working on it - wondering aloud if she might be feeling X about Y, being explicit about our own feelings and really helping her to sit with herself. So lots of comfort and holding when she's angry, zero tolerance of hitting of any kind, use of time in with one of us - not sitting with her but her sitting with one of us in the room. She found that really hard for a while but did use the space to calm down and think about what had happened. A lot of her violence was directed to her little brother but now she can manage herself and actively works to not hit him (e.g. leaving the room, jumping up and down etc).
She and her brother are nowhere near being able to do life story work - I anticipate that process won't happen for them for a while tbh and I will very much be led by them. At the moment we're open about adoption, we build a family identity (lots of family hugs, teamwork etc) and we answer any questions the kids have to the best of our ability. Anything more than that would, at this stage threaten their sense of permanence with us so we'll wait a while.
You might find he's also going through a stage of cognitive develop where his brain starts to understand his world differently so his understanding of home and family might be changing and I'm thinking that could be very scary for a little one who's world hasn't always been safe. Can you reassure him of his place in your family and help him identify ways that he belongs and where? Are the school supportive of his particular challenges e.g. Are they making you aware of issues because you need to know or because they're frustrated? My DD school tend to be quite creative in how they schedule her work time, support etc to account for the way her mood and energy levels change across the day and the week. She works hard to hold it all together in school and literally explodes at the end of the school day - sometimes she really needs to pick a fight with me just to let off steam, which is fine - I'll let her pick, be cross with me within clear boundaries (e.g. no hitting, no swearing, no throwing things but shouting is ok but mummy might be cross back) - once that's out of her system, she has a bit of a cry and is back to normal. Not the easiest transition home but it is getting better and we're finding other ways for her to decompress as time goes on.
It's hard when their need to express strong, often unknown emotion presses our buttons - get support for yourself, I've started seeing a therapist for me, not my kids. Its such valuable space to catch up with myself and to express my own strong feelings safely.
Thanks for all your thoughts and suggestions. I am lucky because actually he is quite a bright boy and is doing well academically at school. He also has good friendships. It’s just the total lack of control of his emotions.
Jelly - we hardly ever bring up his BPs - but this weekend, it was unavoidable for various reasons and so they were briefly mentioned once. As he has shown no interest in life story Work, I have not pushed it and never bring out book. (It has been suggested to me by an adoption specialist that if he continues to show no interest it might be worth investigating specific life story therapy at 10 or 11.
Here’s hoping today is a better day.
Hels20 I don’t know if this is helpful, and please ignore if not. My son (not adopted) has multiple SEN and I very occasionally comment on the adoption board.
I am ‘that parent’ and have been for many years, DS is in year 5.
I have found that over time I have made contact and often friendships with the other ‘that parents’ in the year and it has really helped me to know that I am not the only one. There are definitely other parents in your year group who are being called up regularly to talk to the teacher. E.g in year 1; one child was regularly pooing themselves, one child was exposing themselves in class, another child cut another child's hair in anger etc! Sometimes knowing other parents were struggling as much as me and finding it as hard was the only thing that got me through the school gates. It’s often for very different reasons but just the solidarity of struggling did help.
Just to add, non of the examples I gave above were adoption related. All down to various SEN.
I agree with Kate as another parent if a child with SEN, if you can find the other 'those parents' at school that will be a good source of support.
I was 'that parent' today at school.....i think there was steam coming out of my ears as I stormed out the classroom....that was before school even started
Aw Hels honey, I hope things have improved a bit this week. Yes I have been that parent and yes the advice to seek out other parents of kids with SEN is good. Adversity loves company doesn't it?!
I have no magic advice, it goes in waves, sometimes I cope better than others. Ive had great support from school at times which has helped. Executive processing disorders are difficult - the lack of emotional control is hard to deal with but it does improve with age. There are also certain things that can help improve it like organised sport and playing a musical instument (ie things which are structured and you have to stick to the rules) but it's a slow burn. Being very fixed in the outcomes and sticking to them even when you feel like a heel is (IMVHO) extremely important in heping them learn. Structure and boundaries without judgement is what I try to aim for.
If you are NT then you really dont understand how their brains work and I sometimes forget that when they do something inexplicable (to me). I'm lucky that DS has never been violent towards me and with schools support things have improved with age (DS is 12 next week).
Don't worry about the birth paretn thing, DS resolutely refused to "hear" about brth parents at that age, he just wasn't ready. And if he's never ready then who cares. I'm not suggesting for a second you pretend he isn;t adopted but I do think that a bit of denial is probably quite normal and even healthy (how many 6 years olds have to process that they have more than one mum?!).
Calm and consistent as much as you can and forgive yourself quickly and move on if you can't.
Its absolutely not you.
Ah Hels, so sorry that things are so tough for you right now. It is so bloody wearing and isolating, isn't it - and so hard not to take personally. I don't know if there's any point me saying this at all, as all kids different, but I found age 6 really really tough - so much anger and physical aggression. Things have rather calmed down since then (though other problems) which may of course be the calm before the storm of adolescence, but still a relief that we haven't had a linear escalation.
If gin and a rant would help, remember I'm nearby - and so is Kew.
Thanks Ladies and thanks for the PMs. The anger is directed at me (more often than not) and it’s very hard to not retaliate. Very hard.
We are lucky with his school and his teacher is very receptive to advice. And he can behave. The teachers main concern is that he becomes known as the naughty child when she says he is not naughty.
Kew/Ketzelee - if you don’t mind a rant over some wine/gin - would be up for a meet up in the New Year.
We are in London for Christmas this year so are around the meet up - with or without children.
It is very hard not to retaliate, I'm geenrally (like DS) much better at it after I've had a complete meltdown occasionally
I am quite introverted so I found being stared at in public, when dc was having a meltdown for example, quite hard! But I am now used to it, I just ignore everyone else and focus on dc. I go to school pick up expecting to hear something difficult so that I am always prepared (!) and so I know what you meant, but try to remember that the school knows you, the teachers and the parents will have seen the good along with the not so good.
One thing I would suggest is to change your expectations. 6 is still very young. My dc knows how to behave but doesn't always. The less great behaviour is usually when he isn't on form, when tired, or triggered. I had an epiphany recently that he really, really wants to behave all the time and feels it very badly when he messes up, but hid this (very well) under a veneer of defensiveness. Once I had realised this, it changed how I talked to him about it, and some of the anger disappeared. I am not sure if this might also apply to your dc.
In relation to expectations of a 6 year old, it is advised not to do any kind of behavioural or cognitive therapy until 7 or 8, and this is because at 6 a normal child will have less control than they will have a year or two later. Some 6 year olds at the school do seem quite self controlled most of the time, but many are not.
I'm definitely up for a gin-fuelled rant. Count me in.
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