We don’t often get FASD material presented in Yolo County. You don’t want to miss this opportunity. See RSVP instructions below.
By: Kayla North
I don’t consider myself a lazy person. I am up early, I rarely sit down, and I always have a to-do list a mile long. I mean who has time to be lazy when you are a parent? Yet I find myself parenting lazy. I find myself saying ‘no’ to my kids out of laziness. I find myself yelling at my kids out of laziness.
Let me explain.
A few years ago we signed up for the Empowered to Connect parent training. It really made us reconsider some of our parenting strategies. We had to look at the parenting tools we were using and decide if they were working.
Most of us have four tools in our parenting tool belt:
- verbal reprimand (yelling)
- isolation (timeout, sending kids to his/her room)
- physical punishment
Most days we find ourselves in a vicious cycle of using these tools to no avail. They seem effective because we see our kids behavior modified in the moment. But rarely does the change in behavior carry over to the next day or interaction. As a result, we find ourselves doing and saying the same things again and again.
The ETC course offered to show us 25 new and different tools that we could use with our kids. We just had to be willing to put the other four to the side. We agreed, and we were introduced to a crazy new world of parenting. One that has proven to be effective and has taken us to a whole new level of connection with our kids.
One of our first homework assignments was to give our kids a day of saying ‘yes.’ Every time we wanted to say ‘no’ to our children, we were asked to stop, think about why we were saying ‘no’, and if possible give a joyful ‘yes’ instead. Now this was a daunting task and I was a little skeptical about what it would accomplish, but we did it anyway. What it showed me was that my kids didn’t take advantage of me saying ‘yes’ to them. It showed me that saying ‘yes’ as often as I could helped them accept ‘no’ when I couldn’t say ‘yes.’ It also revealed that my laziness was getting in the way of saying ‘yes’ more often to my kids.
“Mom can we ride our bikes?”
I wanted to say ‘no’ because that would require me to get the bikes out and supervise them in the front yard. It was easier to let them play in the backyard with something else.
“Mom can we get out art supplies and paint?”
I wanted to say no because it was messy and I didn’t want to deal with the clean up.
“Mom can I have a snack?”
I wanted to say no because it required me to do something.
What this exercise showed me was that so often my response to my kids is lazy parenting. I don’t want to be a lazy mom. I want to be a mom who is fully present for her kids. I only want to say ‘no’ for good reasons. I want my kids to remember me as a mom who engaged them in play daily, who let them get messy, and who said ‘yes’ often.
Tales from Our House is an excellent blog I would encourage anyone caring for a child with FASD to read. Here is a recent article from her that I thought was too good not to pass along. As a TBRI parent trainer I DO get asked this question a lot. What she discovered from other caregivers is really spot on. Hope it helps! (EO) Here is Sandra Zimmerman’s post.
“Dean and I have been attending series of video training’s on TBRI by Karen Purvis. In the first training there was quite a bit of talk about rewiring the brain. In essence the brain can be rewired to heal from trauma when you meet the child’s emotional needs with empathy, and creating felt safety. This sounded great and I have seen it work, especially for Lia, but Joseph is another story. No matter how much TBRI Dean and I implement, Joseph still has rages and meltdowns. According to Karen Purvis, once you begin meeting your child’s emotional needs, healing will start to take place. So why hasn’t it? Isn’t TBRI for children with FASD? If it is, why isn’t it working for us? And of course the question I always ask myself, “Is it me?” So I went to my FB support group and asked this question:
“I don’t want to start an argument here but I am curious…last night we were watching Karyn Purvis/TBRI and she was saying how you can rewire the brain etc. Now I know FASD is not hopeless and there is always opportunity for new pathways to grow but am I correct in saying that TBRI is NOT going to heal our children with FASD? If not, why not? Most people rave over it, but quite honestly, it leaves me feeling discouraged in regards to our son, kind of like it is my fault he is not getting better.”
I was literally trembling in my shoes as I awaited a reply because TBRI is held in high esteem among foster and adoptive families and for good reason, it works!
The responses I received gave me a great deal of food for thought and I was greatly encouraged. Here is a paraphrased version of the replies:
1. FASD is organic brain damage thus not necessarily “repairable.” TBRI will probably not be able to improve cognition, as it can for certain cases of trauma. Once the trauma is dealt with a child can then learn and catch up to his peers, but it will cut back on the frequency and duration of rages and meltdowns.
2. The brain damage of someone with FASD is different than that of someone who suffered other forms of trauma, because the brain impacted by FASD was damaged from the beginning.
3. TBRI can help prevent some of the secondary mental health problems caused by FASD.
4. TBRI is beneficial in creating new brain paths but the original damage will still be there.
5. The myelin sheath around the neurons in our children’s brains are damaged or missing altogether so they will “short out,” regardless of what is implemented.
6. Connections can be made. While these connections may not be perfect, they are progress nonetheless.
7. TBRI like all other forms of therapy will need to be modified to meet your child’s needs.
These answers helped me sort out my muddled thoughts and put things into perspective for me. Here is one of the ways we have modified TBRI to fit our unique needs:
When Joseph has a meltdown we respond empathetically (or at least we try to!) then send him to his room because he needs quiet and zero stimulation to calm down. Sometimes I will sit by him, especially if he is so out of control he isn’t safe by himself, but as a whole when he melts down he goes to his room.
I encourage you to visit this website: Attachment and Trauma to learn all about TBRI. If you have a child with FASD and he or she doesn’t seem to respond as readily to this type of therapeutic parenting, don’t become discouraged or blame yourself like I did. Instead modify the training to meet your child’s needs and reap the rewards!”
A controversial treatment shows promise, especially for victims of trauma.
Here’s the idea: The person is told to focus on the troubling image or negative thought while simultaneously moving his or her eyes back and forth. To prompt this, the therapist might move his fingers from side to side, or he might use a tapping or waving of a wand. The patient is told to let her mind go blank and notice whatever sensations might come to mind. These steps are repeated throughout the session.
The psychologist Francine Shapiro invented EMDR in the 1980s when she noticed that moving her eyes from side to side seemed to reduce the occurrence of her own distressing memories. Later on, she theorized that trauma causes negative emotions to be stored within the same memory network as a troubling event. EMDR, she says, helps re-wire these connections.
There’s been some controversy over whether the eye-movement portion of EMDR is really necessary. After all, the rest of the EMDR session looks just like a standard therapy appointment, with the patient rehashing past experiences with the guidance of the therapist.
Some meta-analyses have found EMDR to be no better than cognitive-behavioral therapy for victims of trauma. But a 2011 study that compared PTSD sufferers who moved their eyes during EMDR with those who kept their eyes closed found that the eye-movers had a more significant reduction in distress and had less sweat on their skin—a symptom of unease. The eye movements have also been found to outperform beep tones and other types of stimuli.
Others say the real advantage of EMDR is that it can work much faster than more traditional forms of therapy.
“According to Shapiro, research shows that 84 to 100 percent of single trauma victims do not experience post-traumatic stress after three 90-minute therapy sessions using EMDR,” notes a report by the New York radio station WRVO.
Vincent Felitti, one of the world’s leading researchers on childhood trauma, told me recently that he would often recommend his patients get EMDR, rather than conventional psychotherapy. “The downside of referral is that conventional approaches like psychotherapy are very expensive and unaffordable to most people,” he said.
Now, the American Psychiatric Association, the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies, and the Departments of Defense and of Veterans Affairs all recommend EMDR.
There seems to be a surge in people—like refugees and returning soldiers—who could use quick-acting, effective trauma therapy. One recent study found that EMDR might be effective for Syrian refugees in camps. Another found that soldiers and veterans might benefit from EMDR, though exposure therapy came out as a more effective treatment in that study. Yet another paper found that EMDR works better than other therapies among obese people who have trauma in their past.
As with most treatments, one type of therapy won’t help everyone. But some types—even the strange ones—might be more helpful than they sound.
Ah summertime—longer days, no school, and hours upon hours of free time at home. It’s the time kids await all year. Yet for parents of children with reactive attachment disorder, summer is usually the time of year they dread the most.
During their summer breaks from school, kids with reactive attachment disorder quickly wear out their parents with controlling and disturbing behaviors—all day, every day. Just like the rest of the year, kids with reactive attachment disorder require constant supervision. That 24/7 responsibility falls solely on parents in summertime.
As a parent of a child with reactive attachment disorder, it might feel easier to cater to your child at all costs to avoid meltdowns. Or, you might plan to spend the whole summer at home to avoid chaos and embarrassment in public. Yet, neither option is good for your family. It’s not healthy for you or your children—including your child with RAD—to allow him to control or sabotage the summer for everyone else. You’ll need to find ways around the chaos for the wellness of your entire family.
Here are 8 tips for a better summer for your whole family with a child with reactive attachment disorder:
- Continue your child’s medications, neurotherapy, or other helpful routines that work for him during the school year. Remember that these measures can help with quality of life and aren’t reserved just to keep him on task during the school year.
- Determine whether or not day camps are appropriate for your child. Typical summer camps and other organized activities aren’t always an option for kids with reactive attachment disorder. Camp program staff usually can’t handle children with reactive attachment disorder. Also, kids with reactive attachment disorder often come home and expect their parents to constantly entertain them like the camp staff does. That’s because these kids don’t handle indulgence well and feel entitled (similar to reactive attachment disorder kids during the holidays).
- Consider summer day camps if you believe your child and the camp staff can handle it. Camp can offer valuable respite for you as a parent. If it’s a viable option for your child, you can look into the YMCA, The Boys and Girls Club, or other affordable options to keep your child active while you take a break.
- Even if camp doesn’t work for your child with reactive attachment disorder, register your other children. Remember that your other children need a break from their sibling with developmental trauma too.
- Enroll your child in volunteer opportunities to build skills and boost self-esteem. Look for summer volunteer opportunities. Many county offices, churches, etc. need help from older children and adolescents to clear trails, build outdoor facilities, etc. Unlike typical summer camps, your child will stay busy and build self-confidence. Likewise, you won’t have to face the issues that result from entitlement after regular camp days. Most county programs require spring applications so start your search now.
- At home, create structured activities and consistent routines to keep your child busy and feeling safe. Read tips on how to keep your child with attachment disorder busy this summer.
- If you want to take a family vacation, only take short trips with quick access back home. A child with reactive attachment disorder can quickly ruin the fun for everyone on long trips.
- Take a break for yourself through informal respite care with other parents. Find or start a parent support group in your area. Other parents in your situation will understand your child and have the capacity to care for him briefly—long enough to give you a chance to rest a bit. And then you can return the favor for other parents.
Summertime brings additional obstacles for parents of children with reactive attachment disorder. If you plan ahead, however, the season can be a little less traumatic for your whole family. Remember, taking care of yourself and your other children are just as important as caring for your child with reactive attachment disorder.
From the Institute for Attachment and Child Development (April 2017)
PARENTING & SERVING CHILDREN W/ FASD* WORKSHOP
Saturday, May 6th @12-4:00 PM
At Calvary Baptist Church 506 Cottonwood Ave., Woodland CA
Parents and caregivers of children born with fetal alcohol issues face a dizzying array of challenges. If you are troubled or perplexed by some of your child’s behaviors join us for an afternoon of learning and understanding. You are NOT alone!
Questions and to RSVP
Eric or Amy
*FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder)
FOR THOSE INTERESTED IN FURTHER CONNECTED PARENTING TRAINING IN THE SACRAMENTO AREA…
Have you finished an Empowered to Connect Conference/Simulcast and want to take the next step…
You have read The Connected Child or have had some exposure to TBRI/Connected Parenting and want to grow stronger in your connected parenting practices.
As founders of Transformational Family Ministries and Empowered to Connect Parent Trainers (as well as adoptive parents to four children from hard places), we would love to support and encourage you as you take the next steps. We know how VERY helpful it was to be around other parents who “get it” and we hope that you will experience that as well. But we have a few options and need your input.
First – please tell us more about your family including the ages of your children.
Second – where are you located? We live in Woodland which is 15 or so miles outside Sacramento on Interstate 5. We assume most of you are in the greater Sacramento area and are willing to travel some to take the next steps. But there IS a possibility that we might be able to convene in another community beyond Woodland. So, let us know where you are from and how able you are to travel to Woodland or??? By the way, we normally aim to have groups or classes on Thursday nights so as not to interfere with other church obligations. Mondays is also a possibility if more folks tell us it is the better night.
Third: what are you looking for? More TBRI/Connected Parent training? Ongoing support – practical “how did you do it” kind of help w/ a little formal learning each week? Or a combination of both?
Because there are a few ways we can help:
- CONNECT PARENT TRAINING CLASS. This ETC 9-week class is designed to really immerse a couple into the connected parenting life. There are several reading assignments and weekly homework designed to give you chances to practice what you are learning. It is “the full meal deal” and was so helpful to us. However, ETC does insist that both parents attend and single parents will need to find a supportive partner that will attend with them (because sometimes you really need to tag team it!).
- MODIFIED PARENTING CLASS COUPLED WITH AN ONGOING SUPPORT GROUP. This adaptation of the ETC 6 week Prepare course moves more quickly (still taking 6-7 weeks) but does not require extensive reading (however 1 or 2 books are HIGHLY recommended) relying on short video clips from ETC and TCU featuring Dr. Karyn Purvis. Each session does give some time for support conversations and after the training module is over the “class” converts to an ongoing support group.
- CONNECTED PARENTING SUPPORT GROUP. This would be a support group setting with a short video based TBRI educational component for the first 8 weeks or so. After that the format can adapt to meet the needs of the group.
We are preparing to launch something by mid-May so please try to connect with us as soon as you can.
CHILDCARE AND COSTS:
Due to the fragile nature of our children from hard places, many parents are understandably reluctant to put their kiddos in a new and strange location with caregivers they do not know. This can trigger some children. Most find it easier to leave their children at home with a trusted caregiver which also has the added benefit of some alone time traveling that can be profitably used to further discuss the things being learned. Because of this and the expense it would incur we do not provide childcare. We hope this is not a hardship and understand that it could be.
But if folks purchase their own books (which allows them to choose Amazon Kindle or used versions to save money) and donate towards snacks – we can offer the classes and/or support groups at no charge.