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How to help DD recover from accident?(11 Posts)
This isn’t on the face of it adoption related but I do feel that adoption is somehow playing a part here, so I thought I’d ask you good people.
DD (3) started a new nursery at the start of September. On day five, she was involved in an accident during a fire drill and got her hand caught in a metal gate. Her middle finger got crushed and we brought her to A&E, where they operated. We’ve had several follow up hospital appointments for dressings changes etc since then.
She has been having such a tough time since then. She has gone completely downhill behaviourally and emotionally. Very clingy, tearful and emotional, very angry, with outbursts towards us, and very oppositional. She was pretty strong willed to begin with but now I’d say she’s defiant about 90% of the time.
We’ve talked about the accident and we’ve tried to give her as much love and cuddles as possible but I feel now as if it’s getting serious and as though I’m out of my depth. Today was really tough. She bit me (hard!) in the park and didn’t go asleep till gone 10pm, having been sobbing for an hour.
Her background is that she was removed from BM at birth, spent 8 months with a pretty crappy FC and then came to us. She has so far been pretty straightforward - though has had her moments! - and is the absolute light of our lives.
I can’t help feeling that with the accident having happened when the carers etc were so new to her that this could be throwing up some adoption/attachment related ‘stuff’ for her.
I’d be so, so grateful for any advice on how we can help our little girl.
Oh and sorry, just for more background, has been a tough six months for her in the lead up to this. Her little brother arrived in our family earlier this year, and then all summer she was suffering from a bad digestive issue (which was just resolved and has now gone right back again because of the trauma of all this.
So that’s more context.
That's a lot for a 3 year old to deal with in a short space of time
I think you are doing the right thing with lots of reassurance and cuddles. Think of her as emotionally younger than 3 for the moment, and reduce your expectations of her ability to self-regulate or manage the tasks she was doing. I would guess her 'opposition' is because - at the moment - she can't cope, not that she is deliberately choosing not to.
I hope you are suing the nursery. Hand trapped in a metal gate. What were they playing at?
Is she still going to that nursery? For so many adopted kids, it takes a huge amount to feel safe. If she's still going to the place where she doesn't feel safe, then she's probably in panic-overdrive. How is she at nursery?
It sounds like she’s overwhelmed and not surprising really, that’s a lot for any child to deal with. I agree with a previous poster, treat her as much younger than 3, don’t make too many demands on her (so she has nothing to “defy”), keep her world small and her choices limited - lots of cuddles and love will help settle her system again. Maybe think about keeping her home for a while longer if that’s possible?
Her middle finger got crushed and we brought her to A&E, where they operated. We’ve had several follow up hospital appointments for dressings changes etc since then This sounds so, so awful for her! Painful, the affect of the medication (presumably, if they operated), combined with the other things, I really think it isn't surprising she has been knocked right off her feet in every way. I think keeping her with you, overkill with TLC, constant gentle attention, talking to her, talking about what you are doing together, about her finger, about how people sometimes get ill/has accidents, but then gets better, and everything goes back to normal (and you keeping faith that you can get her better and stable again).
You have probably seen this, but I was reminded of it by another thread - about how a child (or anyone) can be thrown back into brainstem and the video talks about how you can help get her back into her window of tolerance, it might be worth watching again
The other thing is to check out that she isn't in pain or has an infection - any possibility of that?
Long long walks with lots of talking will really help if she is 3 - aside from the fact that the walking apparently helps her brain reconnect with her body after trauma it will also help balance out emotions and it is easier to give her your (almost) undivided attention when out and about - and the younger one in a pram or body carrier will get benefits too.
By the way - my dc used to love Mog the Cat books, and there is one when Mog gets something caught in her paw and is very sad and then gets better ("totally, completely better") - "Mog and the V.E.T"
But if after a bit you still feel out of your depth and the professional input would be helpful, then don't hesitate. I think.
Rainatnight this sounds awful, so sorry.
I really hope she is no longer at that nursery.
Re "... I feel now as if it’s getting serious and as though I’m out of my depth." Please ask for post adoption support. Don't wait, she is still so young and you can do some good work with her now to get her ready for school etc.
My ds had Theraplay ( a specific kind of play therapy) when he had been with us a few years. It really helped and we are about to engage in some more play type therapy.
Please do not feel you need to cope with this alone. It sounds like she has an awful lot on her plate and so do you. So please so ask for help. There is a fund to fund this.
Thank you so much for all the advice and support. It’s just really good to discuss it with people who get it.
Allington and jellycats, that was great advice about easing off, thank you. I’ve since experimented with this and I do think it’s made a difference.
EightWellies she hasn’t gone back and that’s probably a whole other thread! Till last Friday, the medical advice was to avoid getting it wet or knocking it, which pretty much rules out nursery. So we’ve been keeping her home (which we can do as DP Is on adoption leave with DS). But we haven’t decided whether to send her back there full stop. The school have responded very well to what’s happened. And withdrawing her would be a big decision because it’s a pre-school attached to where she was supposed to go to school. We had good reasons to send her there, including adoption-related. But DP and I are both very upset about what happened so hard to get past the gut feeling that we gave them our baby and they handed her back covered in blood!
minesagin37 It’s hard to explain, but if you imagine the gap between a gate and the gatepost - the problem was that the gap was too small and the gate could open too widely so DD put her hand there without anyone seeing and the gap closed completely when a teacher opened it. There’s a finger guard on it now!
We haven’t decided about suing. We’re not sure what it would achieve.
Sassygrommet Thanks for the excellent Mog recommendation!
Italian and others who’ve raised it, we have now asked for help through the local authority. Fingers crossed (ha!) that we get something.
She’s started talking about it more over the past could if days and articulating how angry she is, which I think is a good thing.
I’m glad you’re seeing her start to settle. In your shoes I would keep her out of nursery for a while if possible - maybe look at starting again in the new year? If your happy that the nursery and school are the right placement for her I’d work with them to return her there. The reality is that accidents happen in all kinds of settings, they’ve put a finger guard in place so have responded to her accident. Unless you have reason to think they were negligent I’d treat it as one of those things, if there are other things in place that make you think it’s the right place for her, I’d go with it.
She may have shown the other behaviours regardless given the changes in your family make up - the accident might actually have brought to the forefront stuff that was there anyway. One thing worth thinking about is maybe getting her out to the park as much as you can - the swinging, climbing, jumping activities are really helpful in connecting children back into their own bodies and gives them somewhere to run off the adrenaline that comes with any kind of trauma, basically good care, fun, physical activity and lots of reassurance that she’s ok will help
When you’re thinking of reintroducing her to nursery treat it as a completely new start (in terms of settling in, short days, stay abd play etc) while also recognising that she got hurt there. Talk to her about keeping safe, show her the finger guard and explain about safety around doors etc - not so that she feels responsible but in an “accidents happen and grown ups have done things to make sure you’re not hurt again” kind of way. Consider that she’ll likely be processing things at a much younger age so tailor things to how you’d talk to a 2/3 year old.
It sounds like you’re doing a great job, with a teeny tiny one to consider too. Don’t forget to give you and your partner space too - it’s hard work so take time out where you can.
"...we have now asked for help through the local authority. Fingers crossed (ha!) that we get something." Great news, hope it is OK and you get help soon.
"She’s started talking about it more over the past could if days and articulating how angry she is, which I think is a good thing." I agree, she needs to express her anger and then resolve it.
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