Archive for Discipline

Be The Leader Not The Director

I have a sweet friend, Grish, who raised a great son who also happens to have Autism.  He is graduating from UC Davis on Saturday.  Isn’t that cool?

Okay, I am mentioning this because I am proud of him and of her forever loving support of him.  I also want to share something she taught me about how she handled his incessant, self-focused talking. She taught him she could hear about four sentences on a topic before she stopped being able to hear at all.

Lightbulb!  I had never thought of that before that day.  I could just teach my children to stop after four sentences.  That turned out significantly harder than it sounds, of course. Isn’t everything?

My kids both get it now though.  They talk enough to share and not too much to make me start to pull my hair out.  It took about a year to drive it home, but it was worth it.  

I love it that my kids both still want to talk to me, share with me, get my ideas on things, etc.  I also really love that I can stop them now after a few minutes without hurting their feelings.   As a matter of fact, when their eyes glaze over when I am talking to them we can joke about my having over-reached my four sentences.

Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place provides a monthly no fee Trust-based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Next group is July 8th at 6pm. Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required.   Child care provided.
The Attach Place is offering a weekend workshop for couples on July 18th and 19th, 9am to 5pm each day, to help you create the loving relationship you want and deserve.   Jennifer Olden, MFT and Certified Emotionally Focused Therapy Supervisor, will conduct a two-day Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop.  For more information, call Jennifer at The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships 916-403-0588, Ext 3.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  every other month.  Our next course begins July 25th and August 1st, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up online at www.attachplace.com.
The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment and 20 session course of treatment.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to receive Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

When they talk, listen.  Just be sure to take care of yourself by limiting the amount of talk your ears can tolerate.

Re-Do Time

Okay, re-do. That is one of the first levels of correction we can use with our children if–and it is a big IF–we can be playful, sweet, and respectful.  Remember, corrections are intended to help our children learn to be family kids, not punishments for not innately knowing how to do it despite our repeated corrections.  

Here are some examples for the playfully challenged, which I am known to be sometimes.  How about YOU?

Your child demands a snack.
Hey sweetie pie will you ask again kindly please?

Your child barges into the room banging the walls with a band instrument, knocking down a picture frame, and creating an unnecessary ruckus.
Holy Mole Guacamole, whoa, take a second handsome and try that entry again. Yes, I mean it.  I know you can do it like a kid instead of Godzilla.

Your child is snarky when you tell him to take out the trash.
Uh-oh, I said that without thinking. Sorry honey. What I meant to say was, In the next few minutes please take the trash out, so I can get going on dinner.  What do you say?

Your child gives you attitude.
Whoa, we are working on this kindness thing, right?  Will you show me some love in your voice and say it again please?
No! I won’t!
Something must be wrong. Can I help you with something?
No!
Okay, we can talk again later when we can do it with kindness. I’ll be right here.

Remember, corrections are not punishments. Try it again with kindness applies to us parents, too.  Punishment does not teach our children anything, except that we are bigger and can be meaner.  When they get bigger, imagine what they will do with that learning. Give what you want to get.

Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place provides a monthly no fee Trust-based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Next group is June 10th at 6pm. Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required.   Child care provided.
The Attach Place is offering a weekend workshop for couples on July 18th and 19th, 10 to 4pm each day, to help you create the loving relationship you want and deserve.   Jennifer Olden, MFT and Certified Emotionally Focused Therapy Supervisor, will conduct a two-day Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop.  For more information, call Jennifer at The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships 916-403-0588, Ext 3.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  every other month.  Our next course begins July 25th and August 1st, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up online at www.attachplace.com.
The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment and 20 session course of treatment.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to receive Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

Parents need re-dos sometimes, too.

Tax Day

Be careful what you are ignoring when you follow advice from parent educators to “ignore” your child’s negative behavior. Sometimes we parents get confused what that means.  It doesn’t mean ignore the child.  It means ignore the behavior.  Some attachment challenged children have a multitude of negative behaviors. You could end up ignoring your child at regular intervals all day every day.  
 
If YOU had a bad habit of mumbling your words or talking a little too loud or too much or chewing vigorously at dinner and your beloved ignored you whenever it happened, how might you feel?
 
Ignored?
Hurt?
Rejected?
Shamed?
Angered?
Furious?
Reactive?
Rebellious?
Oppositional?
Bitter?
Unloved?
Disengaged?
Done!
 
Enough said, right?
Attachment challenged children are not usually capable of discerning exactly what you are ignoring.  They often take it to mean YOU are “mean” and they are bad.  
 
A better approach with soft loving eyes sounds like this:  
“I love you and yelling when you are angry hurts my ears.  
“I love you and chew with your mouth closed, Sweetie Pie.”  
“I love you and I couldn’t hear what you said.  Try again please.”  
 
Yep, say those sentences 15 times a day instead of ignoring your child 15 times a day.  Could be life changing.
Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
The Attach Place Logo The Attach Place provides a monthly no fee Trust-based Adoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2nd Wednesday of each month.  Next group is May 13th. Come join us.  Online RSVPeach month required.   Child care provided.
Next 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course  is planned for May 16th and May 23th, 10am to 3pm each day.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up online at www.attachplace.com.
Next Hold Me Tight Couples Workshop by Robin Blair, LMFT at The Attach Place is planned for April 17th, 18th and 19th.
The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment and 20 session course of treatment.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to receive Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

Dear Parents: I love YOU and I need you to 
take better care of yourselves.
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Killing and Lying Are Different

The whole world is living at the DMV.  I went three times yesterday and the parking lots at both DMVs were full out to the street all three times.  So, no ID for the boy.
 
Anyway, that’s not what I wanted YOU to ponder today, unless of course you are on your way to the DMV right now.  I wanted you to consider that lying is not the same as killing and for some reason we parents conflate the two.
 
Most killers lie. Most people have lied. Most people have not killed.  See? Two entirely different things.  
 
When your attachment challenged child lies, treat it with a “fix-it” ticket, not a federal indictment.  Lying is a survival skill.  When the negative impulsive acts become better mediated by that part of your child’s brain that governs executive function, cover-up, reflexive, self-protective lying about those acts will subside. 
 
Lying does not lead to killing, so stop being afraid it does.
Love Matters,
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
 
 
The Attach Place Logo Next Trust-based Parent Course is planned for March 14th and March 15th, 10am to 3pm each day,  in a new back-to-back, two-day format. Save the dates.
Next Hold Me Tight Couples workshop by Robin Blair, LMFT at The Attach Place is planned for April 17th, 18th and 19th.
The Attach Place supports The Wounded Warrior Project by providing free neurofeedback to veterans.  Feel free to send a soldier our way for an assessment.
Feel free to send this link to friends or family members who you would like to sign-up for Daily YOU Time: Wisdom for Adoptive Parents.

Wednesday Wednesday la la… la la la la
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The Quiet Talks

The quiet morning talks are always so enlightening around here.  Today’s topic:  Hatred.
 
“I do love you, but I also hate you.”  Never has a truer sentence been spoken.
 
My son tells me that he, “Can’t put two and two together when it comes to any sort of consequence.”  He says, “Consequences seem like they will last forever, even though I know nothing ever goes away for longer than a day or a day and a half.”  In that moment, “I hate you.”  
 
“The rest of the time there is this feeling inside me like defiance of rules…Whenever there is a rule, I feel hatred for it…Sometimes I just won’t ask you for something because I am afraid how I might react if you say no.”
 
How frightening it must be to react so emotionally violent to every day structure, rules, and expectations?  That is a thwarted, everything-is-against-me worldview many of our traumatized children experience.
 
My compassion for the collective struggle our children experience continually increases over time, and my ability to hold my son with soft eyes and empathy grows exponentially alongside it.  Better late than never, I tell myself, though my grief for how long it has taken me is right there, just under the surface.
 
                                                                 Love Matters,

The Attach Place Logo  3Ce Eshelman, LMFT

Tit For Tat Gets YOU Back

Our children do not cause our poor parenting behavior–yelling,
demanding, demeaning, belittling, overpowering, physicality,
threatening, arguing, meanness, etc.  Those behaviors belong to us
and no amount of attachment challenge child behavior is responsible
for our “low road” reactions.

Because this is true, I have mastered the art of the sincere apology.
I often owe that to both of my children.  Whenever I suggest that
parents owe an apology to their children before expecting their
children to sincerely apologize, I get push back like there is no
tomorrow.

“Absolutely not!” retorted one parent, when I asked if she had
something to apologize for after she wrongly accused her daughter of
something she had actually done herself.  “If she didn’t lie all the
time, I wouldn’t have falsely accused her.”  Okay, but you did
wrongly accuse her, and really you owe her a sincere apology for
wronging her, right?  “No.”  Hmmmm.

If we expect our children to sincerely feel remorse and apologize for
their wrongs, then we have to model it first.  Otherwise, we are
blaming them for our behavior.

Isn’t that what they often infuriatingly do to YOU?

Because Love Matters,

Ce Eshelman, LMFT

Next Trust-based Parent Training Course in Sacramento, CA is
September 27, 2014 and October 4, 2014. Sign-up here –
http://cts.vresp.com/c/?TheAttachPlaceCenter/9ba51af5e7/TEST/c0f94646cd .

Please share freely.  Your community of support can sign-up for their
own Daily YOU Time email by clicking here –
http://cts.vresp.com/c/?TheAttachPlaceCenter/9ba51af5e7/TEST/b816f9fd03 .

Tit for tat, gets YOU back.

Things Get Broken

Daily YOU Time
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Love Matters
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Good Morning Fellow Parent,

Our kids break things.  They break things to test the limits of everything because they cannot intuit when to stop, where the breaking point really is.  That is an attachment issue.  A lack of good enough parenting in the first 33 months of life (starting at conception) creates in a child’s brain the inability to intuit when to put the brakes on: when to stop.   So, SNAP, it’s broken.  Have you noticed that your child seems surprised every time something is broken?  It broke. 

Along with the inability to put brakes on is the inability to extrapolate.  Extrapolation is an executive function of the pre-frontal cortex.  Our attachment challenged children cannot extrapolate one broken thing to another broken thing.  Attachment challenged children have a higher level of cortisol (stress hormone) flooding their pre-frontal cortices, thus delaying the development of the executive function.  The executive function in the brain is what makes it possible for our children to put two and two together.  You probably noticed already that our kids don’t put two and two together very well, thus the need for repetition, repetition, repetition on our parts.

They are developmentally delayed.  It is important for us parents  to understand this.  They may look “normal,” but they are not really.  Their brains are different. How can we continue to expect age appropriate behavior from a child whose brain is delayed by many, many years?

The 65,000 dollar question is:  Will their brains ever change?  With help–your safe love, corrective parenting, attachment therapies, neurofeedback, Trauma Therapies, and time–mostly they will…much later than we parents usually expect and desire. Hang in there.

Up your empathy for how in the world it must feel to make the same mistakes over and over and over again and to be in trouble over and over and over again?  For me, horrible to the core and angry as hell at those who appeared to be constantly picking on me.  I think our kids feel something like that.  When I feel empathy, I handle things more gently and lovingly.  So will you.  That is what our kids need–gentle, consistent parenting. Over and over and over.

Love Matters, Ce Eshelman, LMFT
The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships
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When YOU get upset today, take one deep breath before speaking. Maybe three.

 

Daily YOU Time
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Love Matters
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Good Morning Fellow Parent,

I reply to many email questions daily from parents with parenting questions.  I welcome questions in email, so families can get support between sessions.  Turns out, I don’t always understand the questions and offer less than what is expected; however, sometimes the replies have a universal quality.  This is a response to a recent email I thought might be helpful to share with you.

I wanted to follow up about that “glee” you experience in your (child) when he is blowing out.
That is a chemical reaction.  When he is blowing out, his brain is flooded with cortisol (stress hormone taking his prefrontal
cortex–judgement, caring, ability to respond appropriately–off line), his adrenaline pumps through his body (giving him the feeling of superman like physical power), and endorphins are released because of the over-arousal (giving him a burst of relief and, dare I say it, exuberant satisfaction) which makes him seem to ENJOY a good blow out while it is happening.
What you interpret as “enjoying the negative escalation” is really “enjoying the chemical process” of the blow-out, not the defiant behavior directed at you. To top it all off, this chemical alchemy is ADDICTIVE, so the blow outs become habituated because unconsciously he is seeking that intense feeling.
That said, what is the answer?   While you are getting him into recovery from addictive blow-outs, you have to do some therapeutic things that maybe seem counter-intuitive and like way too much energy to be putting into a kid that is old enough to do the basic tasks of getting dressed, taking showers, etc. Remember, his brain is addicted to blowing out.  He has been blowing out most of his life; it isn’t just for you.  You will have to do the regular, daily, hard work of re-organizing his experiences to replace the blow-out habit with a new positive addiction like relational, interactive play (the language of children).
Keep your emotions light and be playful… Give him the same chemical alchemy in a positive way.  Morning pillow fight to get his blood pumping? Game of tag around the house before a shower? Turn on some rock and roll and dance around like an idiot?  Tickle fest?  Serenade him with I’ve Got a Hammer?
 

Try it, if you think you can stay playful and tolerate the “up” energy.  You can get some replacement neuro-pathways constructed this way.

Love Matters, Ce

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Understanding your child’s behavior as a brain/body process, rather than a calculated, personal attack on YOU, is important to your ability to meet your child with love. 

 

Jinxed Myself

I am so often guilty of thinking “my children never learn.”
In the middle of the night (oh, around 1:30am) a couple days ago, while I was writing to YOU about how “mostly” my family is on the other side of insanity these days, I discovered my son in bed playing away on his computer.  With very little fanfare or emotion I said, “You need to go to sleep now and you have lost your computer privilege… goodnight honey,” and I trotted off to bed like a little carefree pony.
When 6:30am rolled around and it was time to go to school, he refused to speak to me, take his meds, or get up at all–spent the whole day in bed and wouldn’t speak to me when I got home (though he did manage to do all his chores–win/lose sorta.)  Here it is three days later and he still isn’t speaking or going to school. He doesn’t have a computer, so doesn’t have a life-force apparently.
My punishing him in the night the way I did, albeit calmly with an obvious natural consequence, sent him into a cortisol cascade impeding his prefrontal cortex and launching days of poor decision making.  So, thinking “my children never learn” is hysterical.  The truth is:  I never learn.
I know some of YOU are thinking:  Okay, but what did you really do wrong Ce?  He knew he shouldn’t be doing that.  He knew he would get into some kind of trouble.  He was wrong. He was breaking the rule.  He needed a consequence (punishment) to learn not to do it again. How else will he ever learn?
 
I truly wish I had a child with a brain that could manage that kind of thinking and that kind of parenting.  I don’t.  I have a child with extremely poor cause and effect thinking under pressure. Period.  He does not learn from natural or logical consequences dropped on him even by a quiet and gentle little pony.  He dysregulates, blows up or in, and makes one poor decision after another.  He can’t learn under those circumstances. His brain is offline.
Frankly, I am the only one in this equation with the capacity to actually think during times of stress and yet I often don’t.  Funny how I want him to do something that I can’t.  Isn’t that the parent way?  That was my parents’ way.  How about YOU?
When will I learn to parent the brain of the child I actual live with instead of the one I wish I had? When will I ever learn?
By the way, this could have been handled the next day with a simple conversation.  He likely would have consequenced himself without the drama, but I just couldn’t wait to parent power-bomb him.  I think it is a little meanness in me.  I really do.  Oh, the shame of being naked in the mirror of my baser nature.  If I look at it, I can set myself free. This is how I will one day learn.
Love Matters,
The Attach Place Logo
Ce Eshelman, LMFT 
UPCOMING EVENTS:
  • Save the Date: Next Hold Me Tight Couples Weekend is September 19, 20 and 21, 2014.  Email for more information:  jennifer@attachplace.com.

I Wish

There is a part of me that wishes I didn’t have so darned much to offer in this daily email.  I wish my life were smooth as silk and I woke up each morning digging through the reference books for something salient to say that would help you, rather than simply tuning into my own life and drawing from here.  I know this way is more helpful to YOU.  I know it is and that, of course, is why I write it.  I want desperately for my attachment challenged life to have meaning beyond itself…that is the “why” I write this for me.

So many times I have listened to parents lamenting the relentless disappointment that comes with the two step forward, one (or three) step back way our children have of learning. It is so bewildering and yet so much “how it is.”

This week I had such a wonderful all-nighter talk-a-thon with my 17-year-old son that I felt my heart fill with renewed energy and soar.  I know many of your hearts soared with me.   And, I am pleased by that.

Yesterday, “three steps back” arrived in the form of my T-Mobile phone bill.  I discovered $80.00 in gaming money surreptitiously charged to my phone.  Sure wasn’t me.  To his credit, my son did not lie or deny.  He said he felt ashamed and retreated under his bed covers.  Unfortunately, his dysregulation was great, so he skipped his chores, failed to keep a promise, and broke a house rule that day.  When I got home from work last night, he was still under the covers.

An hour later he appeared in my doorway whispering, “I’m sorry.”

Wait for it…

Emotionlessly, “Saying I am sorry won’t fix all of this this time.”

Back under the covers for another day, no doubt.  What in the world would prevent me from saying, “Thank you for the apology honey; let’s talk about it”?   Answer: painful disappointment.

Life is so delicious.  The highs and the lows make it worth living though.  I am still learning to be loving in the face of my own dysregulating emotions.  Upside: I didn’t yell or scold or punish.  I did, in the end, reject him, which shamed and caused his internalized self-hatred to spike through the roof.

Did I really need to do that to him?  Didn’t he punish himself enough already? Wasn’t my own disappointment enough?  Did I really need to rub it in, push away, incur abandonment panic in both directions?

I hope there is something in this tale for YOU.  There is nothing wrong with being accepting when your child has disappointed YOU.  It is okay; it is beautiful; it is forgiving; it is big-hearted; it is the definition love.  And love matters.

Love Matters,
The Attach Place Logo
Ce Eshelman, LMFT
www.attachplace.com