Uproar from 8 year old DS. Suggestions please!(17 Posts)
Here I am awake at 4am. I'm very upset.
I am new on here and rather new to parenting. I am a 26 year old businessman, freelance writer and entrepreneur who adopted my lovely 8 son called Ollie about a year ago.
He seems to have taken very well to the transition from foster care to family life with myself. I am a single parent by the way.
Ollie is finally asleep. He has always had a thing where he feels he has to scrunch up a sweatshirt from school and take it everywhere with him, I mean everywhere. It goes out shopping, to bed at night, in the bathroom beside him etc!
I don't have a problem with this in principle Ollie's previous life was extremely traumatic but there's a problem that he will not let me wash the damn thing. He's had the same sweatshirt from his first day at our village primary school where he attends for the last 11 months or so. It's starting to get filthy and it needs a good wash.
This evening I suggested that I put it in the washing machine and make it like new again - he went nuts at me and started throwing things around his bedroom, sulked for 25 minutes etc.
Should I just let him keep the jumper as it is? When u say its filthy it's very filthy. It used to be a Jade green colour but it's now more like a maroon sort of colour.
Is there anything I can do to persuade him that it needs washing or better still that we need to replace this one with a new one.
I'm going crazy here. He's normally a very quiet and content little lad but this has made him very unhappy and upset.
Crazy iPhone, makes me look like an illiterate freelance writer! :-D
dont wash it.
when I was a kid I had a cot blanket that was my security blanket. what made it special, the thing about it that gave me comfort, was its smell (and to a lesser extent its texture). washing it was an absolute crime necause it would change it from soft to crunchy feeling and, far worse, would rob it of the comforting smells.
my mum did wash it once which horrofied me. I then set about trying to get it to take on smells. I dragged it on the ground, through puddles. any hygiene gains from washing it were soon undone.
talk to him and ask him what it is about it that makes it special. If it is texture or smell, maybe he can 'train up' a replacement. I did later substitute my blanket for a similar one by sleeping on it for two weeks. i had to, as my dad (a horrible man) forced me to throw away my blanket one day. I was distraught as he stood over me at the outside bin forcing me to throw away my most treasured possession when I wasn't ready to. I was terrufied of him though and that moment sticks in my mind
mum washing it in secret also was a bad move. It's a break of trust.
It is possible to create a replacement security blanket but it takes a few weeks. would that be a compromise you can agree with him?
he's probably afraid that you're going to 'take it away' and he won't get it back. I feel this may be a trust thing - which is very common in children from foster backgrounds - too often they get told one thing by an adult only for the complete opposite to end up happening. How about turning it into a game that he can participate in so he feels more involved and in control?
How about asking him/showing him how the washing machine works or that you need his 'specialist help' and put him 'in charge' of the washing machine for the day/his clothes, so he gets to load it up, switch it on, empty it out etc? I feel he's scared of losing his 'comfort blanket' hence why it goes everywhere with him and his reluctance to be parted from it lol so perhaps by giving him control over its care so he can see where it is and what's happening to it the whole time it's not with him will make him feel more secure about getting it cleaned and hopefully in time he will learn to trust you with it?
Good responses. I hadn't thought of it in those ways. I will think about trying the game and letting him experiment with the washing machine. It's taken a lot of time for him to even allow me to hug him, hold his hand etc. It's makes sense what you both said about trust and there's no way I want to break what we have achieved so far all over a dirty comfort blanket. In the end it won't really hurt him if he's walking everywhere with a dirty rag of a blanket - he doesn't take it into school though, it gets locked in his bedroom drawer which he has the key to on some string around his neck. The first thing he does she. Be walks in the door is goes to that box and grabs the comforter. Bless him!
This comforter is his transitional object. It's one of the most important things in the world to him right now and probably the only thing that makes him feel safe while he begins to dare to trust you. If you threaten the security of his comforter, he feels threatened.
He'll let it go when he is ready, but until then please let him have absolute autonomy over it. Show him he can trust you in that respect. And good luck, it's a wonderful thing you are doing.
Thanks. I've got an amazing child in Ollie too!
My DD is 18 and still sleeps with her tatty old comfort blanket she has had since she was a baby. I suspect it will be off to university with her in September. All normal.
Some good advice above. Best of luck.
Any chance of adding a second comfort object to his current one - either another jersey or a blanket/toy? Both could go in the locked drawer, and he can choose which one to take out... just thinking it can be good to have a backup in case of absolute disaster of losses/getting wet etc.
Maybe suggest that his "jersey" would like a friend while he's at school, maybe a teddy or blanket to go in with it... then they can be friends while he's with his friends. Not at all about him reducing contact with the jersey, just about having another special thing. See how it goes and then if ever he did agree to wash it (maybe hand washing, with him in the bath might be better than the machine) he could keep the teddy friend company whilst it dried?
Speak to him about maybe having it made into 2 smaller pieces of material which are easier to carry around, can put in pocket when playing football, take to big school without people knowing etc, can wash one and still have one on him at all times.
A friendly seamstress could even do it in Ollie's presence and he could pick what colour it hemmed in or have his initials embroidered on it.
Mind you ds has given monkey to dd who now clings onto it for dear life and that's disgustingly stinky!
DD (9) had 'Raggy' throughout her early life (originally attached to a dummy, then just held). It's an old tatty muslin, originally white but now a grey/beige colour.
She gave it up when she went to school, but wouldn't let me get rid of it. It's been sitting in a box under my bed ever since.
What she doesn't know that I know, is that she goes to it once a month or so. When she's had a bad day at school or been told off by me etc, she goes in and sniffs it. Holds it against her face and breathes in whatever smell it has on it (that I can't smell). It's very much a comfort thing.
I have a feeling I may be keeping it forever .
As long as it isn't hurting him, having something 'constant', something he can rely on to always be the same isn't a bad thing. It may be stinky, but it's his. Please don't wash it unless he asks you to - and if he does, remember he might regret it after.
Welcome to MN
Thanks to the additional MN mums who have responded since my last comment. Even more very useful angles that I hadn't thought of. I have a lot to learn!
Oh, bless him!! Kids love these types of things
My DS once became very attached to a pair of my old pyjama trousers
It's probably a control thing for him, having come from trauma. It is familiar and comforting.
Give him time
Oh, and you sound like a wonderful Dad; I am very gkad you've found each other.....you have so much to look forward to
NEVER wash it
Could you show him how to hand-wash clothing, then he can wash it himself? It would give him control over this situation, and make sure it was never out of his sight, even for a second. You could wring it out, then towel dry a bit, and finish it off with a hair drier so that it doesn't even have to dry on a line/airer.
I agree with the other posters that say don't wash it. The smell is a key thing with comfort objects - they're just not the same when they've been washed.
Agree with PP about training up a companion. Once the companion blanket/ sweatshirt is suitably "loved", then it might be easier to contemplate the washing of the original.
My comfort object was a cot eiderdown. For me, it was all about the feel, so as holes wore in the eiderdown, potential patches had to be interviewed by feel. My DM still has some frighteningly expensive material which she bought because it was the only one that would do, only for me to reject it when we got home. Eventually "eidie" had to have a complete cover, and when we finally found an acceptable fabric DM took the opportunity to make a couple of mini versions (nominally dolls' sleeping bags) which I was able to take on school trips and the like.
My DCs each have a cuddly toy as their comfort object. Both have lost their stuffing over the years. DS has decided that doggie is staying skinny, but DD and Monkey are currently debating cosmetic surgery to fatten Monkey up.
..these things are sacred, even to DC who have not been through a fraction of what your DS has, OP. Grubbiness matters very little compared to the trust you have built.
It sounds as if constancy and familiarity, things staying the same, is of paramount importance to him at the moment. This sweatshirt is his anchor, the thing he can cling to and know it won't go away or change.
He has probably developed immunity against any bacteria lurking in it - if you got very worried about hygiene I guess you culd try microwaving it.
But personally I wouldn't risk it.
Take care to show that you value his jumper too, and that you treat it with importance and respect.
Good luck to you and Ollie - he sounds a grand lad.
Not sure whether this has can suggested already, but would he be prepared to take it into the bath with him? That would give it a bit of a wash. Drying may be problematic but I would let him lead at that point.
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