In the beginning, when our kids had just moved in, baby talk, defiant mouths, psycho giggling were all just par for the course. Tantrums, lying, and aggression were daily occurrences. After nearly two years of relative peace I get knocked off my heels when sick days roll around and all that trauma residue comes barreling back in the door.
Gabe was being SO defiant and I had finally figured out he was sick. He had been the cause of several fights with his siblings and the neighbor kids and I realized he needed to get a warm bath and lay down for a while. You can imagine how that went over. 🙂
He raged for about 15 minutes, screaming, crying, and pacing through the house. All the while I was calmly informing him that his body needed some rest and when he was ready I’d run his bath water. “I DON’T WANT A BATH!!!!” was his gracious response. At one point he had gone in his room and was so angry–crying angry tears–and I softly told him I felt so bad he was sick and couldn’t play with the other kids. I asked him if he’d like some chicken noodle soup and he sat down on his bed, put his head in his hands and started crying SAD tears. YES!
This is what we battle hardened attachment frazzled adoptive parents wait for–the abandonment of anger in favor of the real feeling–sadness. He said,” I hate feeling this way–I hate being sick and having a runny nose. I can’t breathe, my throat hurts, and everyone else is having fun.” I rubbed his back and waited a few minutes before asking if he’d like to play with cars in the bath tub. He kicked into baby talk mode and we ran the bath water.
After he had his bath, I gave him soup and he started talking normal again. Then I managed to get him to stay in bed with a story on CD for a full hour!
My point in all this is that the first 18 months we had our kids nearly every day was full of scenes like this. Because we approached our kids with understanding and let them talk like babies if they needed to (since they totally missed out on toddlerhood, thanks to their neglectful family) and let them rage like they wanted to (as long as they weren’t hurting anyone) we ultimately avoided a lifetime of regression. Now the only time they tantrum or rage is when they are really sick or super tired.
It is so hard not to respond when a child is acting this way. Traditional parenting has trained us to be so concerned about obedience that we ignore the fact that there are situations in which children need an extra dose of understanding. Just because your child has been loved and nurtured in your home, doesn’t mean he can’t remember or feel the way it was before. Children of trauma struggle for their whole lives with the horrid scenes and experiences they’ve been exposed to!
In Proverbs, my favorite and most helpful verse during the most trying moments of our adoption was, “A soft answer turns away wrath.” I could see the anger drain from my children’s faces every time I met them with a soft answer. Try it with your attachment challenged kids. I think you will soon find they aren’t as deficient in the area of attachment as they once were and the winds of change will start to blow in your home. Enjoy the breeze!
Post provided by: Sandra Nardoni – Adoption Counts