Focusing on Relationship

I wanted to write a little bit about focusing on relationship and not behavior.
This is one of the hardest things to explain, especially to hurting parents.

Questions might be, “Do you mean you want me to reward bad behavior?”
Of course not.

But there is a cycle we can get stuck in, and as the adult, you can either stay IN
what Heather Forbes refers as “A Negative Feedback Loop”, or you can choose to get off of the crazy train, and help your child heal.

It doesn’t happen over night, and it DOES take time.

For what ever reason your child might spin into a meltdown,  it is most excellent
if you do not follow in suit.  Instead, take a deep breath and work to connect with your child.
If there is a mess to be cleaned up, it can wait.
IT MUST WAIT, because a dysregulated child isn’t going to be able to rectify the mess.

Instead, sit with your child and just be with them.  Do your best to get close to them, but if they are unable to be close at the moment, sit near.  Speak in a soothing tone, until you sense that they are calming.  You will know the right moment when you can connect with them by touching their hand and they don’t pull it away, or by looking in their eyes and they don’t gaze away.
Gently and lovingly speak to them telling them they are safe.
“What’s going on sweetie?”
Sometimes they may know, as a memory was triggered, but sometimes they may not, especially if their trauma was pre verbal and they only “feel” with no cognitive memory.

I believe the latter is much more difficult to deal with, because there is no explanation.
Many people think the earlier the adoption the better…. I don’t find this to be necessarily true.

Once you have made emotional connection with your child, loved on them with your words of comfort, you can THEN return to deal with the mess.
Don’t be harsh, instead use any of the tools you can, including humor.

“Looks like we have a mess to clean up!”.  And then do it together!
Your child will most likely be remorseful.  Reassure them, and then when you are all finished,  reassure them more.
During a period of regulation, not necessarily right after, so you don’t take “too long” and lose their attention span, have a time of teaching where you can discuss better ways to handle big feelings.
Give them some choices for tools and have them practice them.
1. deep breathing
2. request to sit in room (older children)
3. go for a walk
4. magic mustache
5. jump up and down
and more…..

When that next time of dysregulation comes, just gently remind them of the tools they have to use.
It may take several times before they use the tools, but they WILL use them!  And eventually it will become habit for them.  Those behaviors that you were so worried about, and we not focusing on, will start to disappear and much healthier behaviors will begin to show up!

The negative feedback loop patterns will be further and further apart and certainly less intense!  And your relationship will improve!

I remember when one of our daughters was about 6, she had been successfully using her “tool box” to keep regulated.  One day during a math lesson, she began to act out. 🙂
I mentioned getting our toolboxes  out to find a tool and she instantly crossed her arms and looked at me saying, “My toolbox is locked and I can’t find the key!”   LOL

She did find the key, and we worked through her frustration together.

Accept your children for who they are and respect where they have come from.
Work hard to build relationship first.  Do not negate gentle teaching, which is discipline,  at the right moment, and unconditionally LOVE your children.

You will be surprised how unwanted behaviors begin to diminish and the real child begins to show up, all due to felt safety.  Make your child “feel” safe, and they will drop their guard for you to find the tender hearted, delightful child that they really are.

No matter how long you have been home, months or years, until you work on relationship first, struggle will continue, and you will feel defeated as a parent.

Such a simple tweak, can make all the difference in the world!

Easy. No.   Worth it! You bet!
Don’t forget what success looks like!

Comments warmly welcomed!


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