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If Your Traumatized Child Were A Dog…

Dear Parents,

Couples Blog

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

I read this today on the I Heart Dogs blog:

If you believe you aren’t your dog’s favorite person, but you would like to be, there are some things you can do to improve your bond with them. The best thing to do is spend at least 30 minutes of focused, one-on-one time with your dog every day. This time should be spent doing something active such as playing fetch or tug, having a training session, or trying a new sport such as agility or flyball where you and your dog can work together as a team.

Now apply that to your attachment challenged, traumatized child.

Go play.

Love matters,

Ce

Upcoming Events in Sacramento…

Reminder: Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Pizza Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. December 15th, 2017 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  Pizza and snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough pizza, right? This is a  monthly social group for the children; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. A donation of $0.00 to $5.00 will be accepted for pizza and supervision if you are able, but please don’t let that be an attendance barrier because the group is FREE.  ASD Kids need a social life and this is a great way to make it happen.

NEW!  5-Week FRIENDSHIP SOCIAL SKILLS IMPROV GROUPS FOR CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL TRAUMA–6-8 yrs group and 9 to 11 yrs group.  The groups will be $20 per session, CALVCB payment eligible, structured, and fun, too.  Groups will begin in January 2018.  Contact Jen@attachplace.com for more details.

If you haven’t responded to the Capital Adoptive Family Alliance (California residents only) survey about needs you have for your family while raising adopted children, here is the linkFill it out now!  That is my way of encouraging everyone to answer the survey questions to the best of your ability. You can skip anything that you don’t want to answer.  This is a way to get funding channeled to adoptive parents.  Super special opportunity for all of us adoptive families who need financing for services.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Join our monthly Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on December 13th, 2017! Open to all parents/caregivers at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827.

TRY MY BOOK FOR DAILY SUPPORT: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.

FOLLOW US:  Twitter @lovingradkids and @Attachmenthelp or Facebook.

Brain-based Parenting, What?

Brain-based parenting is one of the true keys to helping our complex, attachment challenged children become family kids.

Children with complex trauma and attachment breaches usually have reactive, stressed out brains.  They have very little access to their pre-frontal cortex, even when perfectly calm. That part of the brain is responsible for good judgment, organization, rational thought, language skills, cause and effect thinking, moral reasoning, and information recall.

Now toss some stress into the mix.  You know, surprise her with a sudden change of plans.  Tell him to quickly get ready for school.  Tell her do her homework with you or by herself without you.  Gently explain that his friend doesn’t want to play with him anymore because he doesn’t like being spat upon.  Challenge her to start that big project right now.  Shout, “Take the trash out!”  Give him an angry face.  Throw away a piece of trash/treasure from under the bed.  Confront her with a chore done poorly.  Hug him without his permission.  Tell her to change her too short skirt.  Hint about a surprise.  Remind him that Christmas is coming.  Nicely tell her to turn the TV off two minutes before the end of the show, and on and on.

If you were a brain-based parent, you would start all conversations with a request for a few deep breaths and a gentle reminder that nothing is wrong, that you are going to tell him something and he is not in trouble.  After that, you would say, “Ready?”  Wait for the all ready sign then slowly explain what comes next. “We are going over to Grandma’s house instead of to Uncle Tom’s house.”

I can hear your exasperation from here. Really? Are you kidding me? Do you realize that I have things to do, places to go, and no time for dilly-dallying?  I know. I know.

If you think slowing down to talk your child through the changes of every day life is like watching ice melt on a busy day, then consider the alternative. How much time does it take to get any kind of positive movement from your child once the stress hormone (cortisol) has kicked in, the pre-frontal cortex has gone off-line, and you have to resort to chasing him around the house, tackling him and making him put hisdarned shoes on now!  Fearful, raging, tantrums ensue.  Tick tock.  The clock did not stop and now you are an hour late (at least).

Two-minutes of proactive, brain-based parenting, can prevent hours of reactive, brain-based fall-out.

Love Matters,

Ce Eshelman, LMFT

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 November 11that a NEW time–5:30 pm. Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care. 

The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates areDecember 5th and 12th, 2015. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.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.

Take time for explaining, training, and listening to complaining.

Toxic Stress Part 2

The only way to change the toxic stress that may be poisoning your family life is to get on board a huge parent self-care regimen for yourself, that I wrote about yesterday, and a daily felt safety diet for your child.

Felt Safety Diet:

  1. First and foremost: Well regulated parents who have an establishedSelf-care Regimen.
  2. A slow pace.  Pretend you live in a small sleepy town where no one feels the need to speed.  Then, don’t speed, rush, hustle, bustle, race, multi-task, or try to live three lives at once.
  3. Attune to your child’s needs for connection, engagement, attention, playfulness.  Play with your children.  Watching them play is not the same thing.
  4. Lose the concept of punishment and consequences.  Use structure and gentle correction instead.  If you use punishment and consequences, your child will fear you while continuing to do the things you don’t want them to do.
  5. Set the behavior bar low, so your child is successful.  Praise like crazy for achieving it. Setting the bar too high will cause behavior like giving up, throwing in the towel, defiance, opposition, or not even trying.
  6. Accept your child for who they actually are, rather than for who you wish they were.  This is a big one.  Stop working so hard to make them different.  Imagine someone doing that to you every day, all day.
  7. Never forget that your child probably has some kind of sensory integration issue because children from difficult beginnings usually do.  Give them a steady schedule (every two hours) of physicality, healthy food/snacks and big hydration.
  8. Finally, work very hard to be sure your child’s school is trauma informed, so your child isn’t inadvertently emotionally harmed.

And there you have it: a healing Felt Safety Diet.

Love Matters,

Ce Eshelman, LMFT

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 November 11that a NEW time–5:30 pm. Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care. 

The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates areDecember 5th and 12th, 2015. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.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.

Take a look at your calendar.  If the word respite does not appear there, get to it.

Toxic Stress

Even when you have all the information about your child’s traumatized brain, every bit of therapeutic parenting advice, tons of therapy, and book piles to stop every door in your house, something may still have a stranglehold on your entire family. When it gets right down to it, toxic stress is the real culprit.  Your traumatized child has it and you have it, too.

The only way to change the toxic stress that is poisoning your family life is to get on board a huge parent self-care regimen for yourself and a daily felt safety diet for your child.  Sounds easy, but you know it isn’t.  Also, this regimen and diet will be for life, so you have to embrace it every day in order to live an emotionally, toxin-free life.

Today’s post is about the most important thing in the world–your self-care. Tomorrow, felt safety.

Self-care Regimen

  1. First and foremost: get out of denial.  Your child has special needs.  You need to pay attention to your needs first.  Put your oxygen mask on before assisting your child.  
  2. Respite needs to be your priority after the basics–food, water, air, shelter, hugs.
  3. A trained childcare provider is a must and a miracle.  Get two or three; train them; and pay those folks as well as you can because they matter a lot.
  4. Schedule respite breaks for yourself every day on your calendar, in your phone, on your To Do list. Schedule respite like it is a hard to get dental appointment that you will be charged for if you miss it.
  5. Care about yourself.  Care for your body.  Care about what you eat. Care about your sleep. Care about your love life.  Care about your friendships.  Care about your garden, animals, hobbies, creativity, passions, missions. Yes, you can fit everything into your life.  If you cannot, then you do not have a healthy life.  Think about that.
  6. Think about this while you are at it.  Attachment challenged, traumatized children do not need a full schedule of organized sports, dance lessons, piano recitals, playdates, extravagantvacations, and the latest kid stuff.  They need at least one (and two would be better) well cared for, emotionally present parent.

If that is all they ever have, they will be rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Love Matters,

Ce Eshelman, LMFT

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 November 11th at a NEW time–5:30 pm.Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care. 

The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates are December 5th and 12th, 2015. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.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.

Take a look at your calendar.  If the word respite does not appear there, get to it.

Magic Question

Sharing power is one of the best ways to get your challenging child to be a bit less, well, challenging.  When your child resists shifting from one thing to another, try this magic question:

Okay Sweetie Pie, time to go to bed.
“Noooooooo!!! I’m not done!”
How much more time do you think you need? This is the magic question.
“Ten minutes.”
Let’s compromise–five more minutes. 
“Awwwa, okay.”
Two minutes later, he is done and down the hall to the bedroom.

I know you don’t believe me, so start small and build up to bedtime.

Once my son had been sick in bed for two days.  I asked him, How much more time do you think you need?
“Uhh, I’m pretty sick.  My stomach really has been hurting.  Uh, a week?”
Let’s compromise–you’re getting your butt to school to-mor-row.
“It was worth a try, Mom.”
We giggled.  He went to school the next day.

Wow, crazy as it seems, I have raised a seriously reasonable kid.  I worried that would never happen.  I often had pathetically low faith, coupled with monumental fear. Good thing I kept putting one foot in front of the other.  Just like you.
Keep the faith. Keep walking forward.

Love Matters,

Ce Eshelman, LMFT

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 November 11that a NEW time–5:30 pm. Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care. 

The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates areDecember 5th and 12th, 2015. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.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.

Sometimes having faith in our challenged kids is like taking cough syrup when your cough has kept you up for three nights straight.  You know you have to do it to sleep, and you also know you seriously have to gag it down.  Well, that is a pleasant comparison.

Kindness Transmission Processes

Sometimes I am astounded by the kindness of my children.  A couple days back from vacation I came down with a virus.  Nothing terrible, just ugly to listen to and look at.  

When my son sees I am under it, he immediately says, I’m sorry you are sick again Mom.  I will do anything you need.  Do you need something?  Can I help you?

When my daughter hears I am sick after visiting her house (7-hour round trip) where my sleeping grandbaby had a virus, she says, Mom, I am so sorry you are sick.  I should have told you before you came here that she had a virus.  I love you, Mom, so much. Thank you for visiting.  It meant so much to me for you to see my new home. I miss you.

There were so many years when I was called upon to be kind in the face of anger, rage, rejection, assaults.  Mostly I managed to do it, though not always. This is the payoff.  My children are kind adults.  What more could I really ask for?

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 November 11th at a NEW time–5:30 pm.Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care.
The Attach Place offers an 8-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates are December 5th and 12th, 2015. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.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.

Kindness translates well into the future.

Sensitivities

I have saved myself quite a bit of money over the years being sensitive to perfume. Yep, I can’t spend more than 15 minutes in Macy’s, Nordstroms, or any mall anywhere without getting sneezy, wheezy, and dizzy.  I am amazed by this fabulous built-in shopping deterrent.  
 
Just as I am sensitive to scents, my children and likely yours are sensitive to rejection and humiliation.  Their sensitivities make them prone to lying and reflexive arguing.  Hardwired into parental brains is a monumental dislike of a child’s back talk.  Our instant ire at compulsive lying goes without saying, right?
 
Attachment challenged, traumatized children cannot tolerate being wrong, bad, criticized, or humiliated (due to feeling damaged from abuse and abandonment before you), so they are on auto-lie and auto-defend most of the time. You can help them by being a safe person in their lives who does not over-react emotionally to their defend and deny survival instincts. 
 
When you detect an auto-lie, lovingly say, “I know you are scared right now.  You are not in trouble. Let’s talk when you fell less afraid to tell me.  Try again in a few minutes, okay honey?”  Follow this with a hug and, “I love you.”  Remember auto-lying is not about YOU, so you don’t have to take it personally.
 
When you get a rash of defensive denial, say something like, “I know you don’t want to be wrong, and you aren’t.  I only want you to hear what I am saying and to understand what you are saying.  That’s all honey.”   Follow this by a genuine loving smile and reassurance.  Remember they are sensitive to being wrong, which makes it hard for them to hear parents.  Tip: Ask yourself what makes it hard for YOU to hear children?  
 
You can decrease your child’s sensitivity to feeling bad or wrong by allowing room, little by little, to let learning be your goal and being in trouble to be obsolete.  Learning to be a healthy adult is the primary point of raising a healthy child.  Anger, shame, humiliation, exasperation, and rejection block all learning in everyone, especially your traumatized child.
 
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 October 14th at a NEW time–5:30 pm.Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates are October 10th and 24th.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.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.

Learning only happens in a safe space.

Waiting for the Next Shoe to Drop

Beware your human nature to be stuck in emotional neutral waiting for the next shoe to drop.  Trust me, if you have children from difficult beginnings, the shoe will drop.  
 
How about doing life differently?  Consider leaning into the peace, moving forward, accepting positive lulls, breathing freely, embracing the good stuff. The opposite will likely cycle back in the next few minutes, few hours, few days, few weeks.  Why stick in an anticipatory fear state waiting for the worst?  Doing so makes it nearly impossible to enjoy your child in-between the shenanigans.  
 
For argument sake, let’s say it takes 400 repetitions to create a new neuropathway. That means there will be four-hundred and one opportunities to enjoy life joyfully between the repetitions.  
 
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 October 14th at a NEW time–5:30 pm.Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates are October 10th and 24th.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.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.

Lean into the peace; good stuff happens there.

Teenage Play Dates

I am a mother who had very few Mommy Moments in the raising of my children. You know, those sweet moments when a warm feeling blossoms up like a big Pink Peony in your chest? Pretty sure many Dads aren’t feeling the Pink Peony metaphor, so substitute here whatever the man equivalent of that is–Red Lamborghini Moment? Sometimes I like being completely sexist, so stop groaning. YOU may not be getting many of those sweet moments right now either if you are still in the daily trenches of humiliating Target meltdowns, broken dishes on the kitchen floor, spilled milk all over the restaurant, and bite marks on your forearms.
 
In the past, overnights and playdates just couldn’t happen without incidents of grand proportion, so they eventually got ruled out entirely.  I got tired of my kids losing already tentative friendships and trying to get into the good graces of parents who might give my kids another chance with their kids in the park or at the pool party or overnight in their living room (without locking up all the food, cell phones, wallets, and car keys.)
 
Now that I have six adult teens in my life (four of whom are previously diagnosed RAD kids),  I am getting an odd abundance of Pink Peony moments.  This weekend my house was taken over by boys eating, laughing, playing video games, going out for snack attacks, and coming home just to eat again. At the same time, one of the girls flew to and from L.A. by herself to visit family that previously refused to accept her into their home–even for a one hour visit.  She had a great, incident-free day. And yesterday, two others gushed over their beautiful, smiling daughter in pictures taken with the new iPhone I sent them in the mail last week–tag lines like I love you so much Mom and She is smiling because we are saying, ‘Smile for Grammy over and over.’
 
With attachment challenged, traumatized, and special needs children the Pink Peony moments may be delayed.  Wait for them.  I promise they arrive little by little over time until in young adulthood they have no trouble expressing how much YOU mean to them.  Wait for it.
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 October 14th at a NEW time–5:30 pm.Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates are October 10th and 24th.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.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.

Blue Carnation Moments? 

Parenting 101

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 challenged 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?
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 October 14th at a NEW time–5:30 pm.Join us.  Online RSVP each month required when you need child care.
The Attach Place offers a 10-hr. Trust-based Parenting Course every other month.  Our next course dates are October 10th and 24th.  Child care provided for an extra fee. Sign-up by calling 916-403-0588 x1 or email attachplace@yahoo.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.

Being the grown-up is so hard sometimes.