Friday, April 10, 2015
I don't know if I'm the only mom in the world that does this, but after creating rules (like "if you get something out you have to put it away or it WILL get taken away) and then giving them an overabundance of "Grace" (ie. "Are you sure you want me to take your baby doll away or did you want to put her away?") I decided TIME. IS. UP! We spent the day ridding our play room/ school room of all kinds of random paraphernalia, leaving behind a train set, big duplo blocks, small legos, and 3 baby dolls. YEP! That's all...everything else is in a big giant bag for donation or in the trash.
So? What does this have to do with our boys or adoption or really anything? A few months into our adoption I was introduced to the world of attachment. It was a very scary and very real thing. I learned that children who haven't been hugged and shown love on regular basis have brains that have developed completely different than a child born into a loving environment and shown love and security. The parts of their brains that are the strongest and are "used" the most is the "fight, flight, or freeze" section. (Sorry, I'm not an expert here and I can't give you all of the perfect lingo - I HIGHLY recommend Nancy Thomas's website http://www.attachment.org/ to get a full picture) So when you have a kid who's brain has not had a chance to develop as strongly when you say something like "If you get this out you HAVE to put it away or it WILL get taken away" guess what part of their brain lights up? You guessed it! That fight, flight, or freeze portion. Why? Because what they hear from you is a direct threat and our brain's respond to what we perceive to be threats.
Let me tell you the verbiage you use when working with kids who have attachment issues is SO important. It's taken me the past 16 months of putting this idea into practice and seeing great results... some times. HA! I wish I could just say that I've figured it out and gotten results and then end it. However, the fact is for months (ACK! Who am I kidding sometimes weeks) I will be diligent at saying "Put the toys in the trunk". I will be diligent at taking the toy away when it isn't done - natural action/lack of action = consequence without threat. Until one day I don't "feel" like taking it away, or I look at those beautiful sweet eyes and my heart says "Aww, but he LOVES that toy." and suddenly the weeks or months of great action is all undone. We are back to square one. Maybe this is just me, but when this happens I tend to forget all of those great actions and end up right back at the "If you....I will...." stage.
Nancy Thomas strongly encourages minimizing toys and play time with kids who have attachment disorders in order to teach total and complete obedience. Why do we need to have complete control and require this level of obedience from our kids? Because the reality is, until their brains are healed they don't know how to make good, appropriate decisions. Even typical kids don't really know how to make great decisions do they? If you ask your 4 year old what they want to eat for breakfast how many of them are going to say "I would like some fresh, unsweetened fruit and plain yogurt please?" If that is your child then CONGRATULATIONS! You are doing awesome! Keep it up! For the rest of us, we have to guide our children to make good choices. They learn by watching us and seeing what we will do and what we will allow.
SO! Why legos and trains? Because this encourages imagination and creativity. I'm always amazed when all my kids have are legos what fun things they start to think up all on their own. My 5 year old daughter the other day made and iron and ironing board out of legos. How awesome is that - now that I'm thinking of it, I really should have taken a picture ;) When they get bored with the legos, guess what they do? (Assuming they've put them away of course ;) ) They ask for paper and crayons or they go play outside! Thumbs up to that, right?!
Ok, so as I sit here typing and look around me, I find Lance laying next to me. (He really just loves having someone next to him - although holding or playing with him is SOO much better) The rest of the kids are actually in the midst of cleaning up those legos and trains, and I'm off to start our night time routine.
If you've related to this post please comment - we're all in this together. Stay strong Mamas!