It can be a challenge to understand what children with a trauma history need the most. Especially since trauma often leaves a child unable to express this in a healthy way. Out of this, there are some crucial needs that we as caregivers must be aware of.
“If you don’t stop holding that baby, she’s never going to learn to walk,” a nosey middle-aged man exclaimed in the church lobby for all to hear. My ten-month-old daughter, already an introvert by nature, was wrapped around my body like a koala. For her, the church lobby was a place to be endured. She hated the bustle, the noise, and the constant attention. As a pastor’s family and a transracial adoptive family, we were often the center of attention.
It’s a question many of us have wrestled over on this journey. Should we or should we not talk to our child about his or her past trauma? Here are some thoughts…
It’s a conversation we’ve found ourselves in quite often. Many parents believe it’s not a healthy topic of conversation to have with or in front of your children. Others lean on openness and honesty. We lean that way too, but with one big question first…
Sometimes we can feel trapped when our children have extreme behaviors. The anxiety, the aggression, the constantly needing you but then pushing you away, can feel unending. We want to do the right thing, but what can we do when it feels like our backs are against a wall?
“I feel like my back’s against a wall and I don’t see any end in sight.”
Her words came across my computer screen early one morning and I remember thinking, “Boy have we been there.” Feeling like there’s no end in sight, like your child’s behavior is never going to change. Even worse, feeling like your child may never feel at peace either. Yep! We know the feeling.
It’s easy to view your child’s behavior as manipulation, but there’s something deeper going on that is hard to see on the surface…
I press my fingers into the temples of my head because I’m so…unbelievably…done! I can’t take one more second of the manipulation…the lies…the conniving…the sneakiness!
This is a guest post by author and therapist Ron Nydam (PhD). Ron specializes in helping adoptive family’s develop and connect in a healthy, positive way. His latest book, Wise Adoptive Parenting
, helps families better connect to their children, and adoptees feel heard and understood. You can pick up your very own copy by clicking here
Through all of the trauma education, and attachment strategies we can learn (and certainly benefit from), our connection with our children still comes down to one factor: relationship!
Many parents who are new to the adoption journey wonder what it takes to make good things happen in the development of their children. They may wonder day after day how to find a way to be effective with their children who frustrate their first attempts at helping them manage his or her behavior. Parenting quickly becomes a guessing game as to what might work and might not work when a child’s behavior is out of control, or over the rails in terms of everyday family life.
We are all on a journey to understanding. Rarely does a person step into this journey fully equipped with the knowledge they need to help their kiddos the most. That’s why we grow and learn. But there is one element of understanding that opens up a whole new world when you finally see the full picture.
I will never forget the moment my mind was fully opened to the reality of what our kiddos have gone through and why they do and say the things they do at times.
It was Christmastime, fours years ago. On a cold December night my oldest son, who is diagnosed with Alcohol-Related-Neuro-developmental-Disorder (commonly called ARND, a diagnosis of FASD), was triggered by something. We were popping popcorn, pulling out blankets, and settling down in our family room for a family movie night. For reasons that still remain a mystery, he wasn’t having it. Any of it!
There are aspects of this journey that take your breath away and cause you to grieve deeply. One of those aspects is helping your child process the hard parts of their story.
On an unseasonably warm night in February, we sit on our front porch with our children gathered around. Our objective is to assemble a new wagon we’ve just bought for our new farm (yes, we bought a farm!). There’s excitement in the air as this wagon will fit all of their toys, plus some of the pets, the neighborhood friends, and a few of their odd inventions.
The day came. I knew it would. Just didn’t know when or what the age would be or what circumstances would bring it up. Even though I knew it would eventually come, it didn’t make it hurt any less.
He was my first baby and has been my son since he was 3 months old. We’ve had our ups and downs. Some quite painful. The diagnoses. The therapy. The raging tantrums. The many broken things. The IEP meetings. The side talks with teachers.