Archive for Parenting Attachment Challenged Children

Time for Hindsight

Dear Parent,
The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

This morning I found myself thinking about how hard I tried to get both of my children to fit into “normal.”  I wanted them to want the things for their lives I wanted for them. That’s telling, isn’t it? I eventually let go of these wants, or maybe I was forced by the reality of my children’s lives to accept them on their terms.  It took me a while to see that I needed to advocate with “normal” systems for my children, rather than insisting my children contort themselves into what was expected.  I imagine a cartoon line-drawing of giant, puffy-pillow children being stuffed into tiny little boxes by a harried woman with her hair on fire.  The caption reads The Good Mother. Frankly, my children couldn’t do all that was expected.  They didn’t want for themselves what I wanted for them because they were busy surviving each day, while I had the luxury of “felt safety” and the ability to imagine fearfully toward their futures. Of course, like all parents, I needed to think about the future for them when they couldn’t for themselves, but that sometimes blinded me in the moment and I lost sight of what was most important—creating a safe, regulated family life for them in which to heal. In the beginning I forced them, by hook or by crook (No idea what that really means, but you get the picture, right?), into regular school hours, traditional classroom settings, curricula focused on higher test scores, behaving well, obeying well, playing well, and, all in all, engaging the world well–emphasis on well. That was a lot to ask, too much to ask, from my children who were robbed of personal boundaries, sacred birthrights, attachment security, and fundamental felt safety in their first two years of life. These are the musings of a mother with grown children who has the delicious abundance of time to look back and think about what she might have done differently to ease the fear, suffering, and disturbance of the early years of her children in their unfamiliar, new home.  I’m sharing this with you in the hope your children might benefit from the missteps, mishaps, mistakes, and musings of this parent who previously traversed the tumultuous terrain now set out before you. Love matters, Ce

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held in January 12th 2019, from 10 am to 4 pm.  Childcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. Register on our website!

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public.  Look for new day and time in January TBD next year.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. 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 food 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.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Click Here to join our monthly  Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on December 12, 2018! 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.

GIVE A BOOK OF SUPPORT TO A FELLOW PARENT ON THE ADOPTION JOURNEY: 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.  Buy from Amazon or get a discounted copy here.

The Holidays Can Be Lovely With Children From Difficult Beginnings

Dear Parents,

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

I just met up with my adult children for a pre-Thanksgiving gathering. I found myself marveling at how they are unfolding.  I mean that.  At 21 and 23, they are adults with lives of their own.  They are happy.  They have interests and friends and places to go and things to do.  They are grown up and I no longer worry about them. And that is the point of this post.

I worried way too much when my children were growing up.  Because they came from difficult beginnings and because their behavior was out of the ordinary, I fretted and worried and over controlled them.  I downright ruined every holiday.  Yes, it was me who ruined them, though at the time I quietly thought it was them ruining it for us.  I was wrong.

What I didn’t know how to do then was accept my children as they were.  I wanted them to be the way I wanted them.  You know, a lot more perfect.  Way less messy.  Seriously better mannered.  Definitely well regulated. I didn’t want their trauma to be impacting my holidays–pure and simple. Every year, every holiday I didn’ want that.  And, every year, every holiday they were who they were–traumatized, attachment reactive children from difficult beginnings.  Who needed to change in this situation?  Who had the most potential for change at the time?  Yep, it was me.

I could have accepted my life and my children. I could have changed my expectations and made the environment trauma-sensitive.  I could have been considerate of what they could tolerate and how long they could tolerate it.  Instead, I tried to fit them into my life the way it was before children and the way I thought other children were able to fit in.  My children weren’t other children; they were actually special with special needs during the holidays.  I could have been more loving and less worried about how they behaved. I could have been more flexible.

I learned a lot about myself while raising my children.  Much of what I learned was not pretty or pleasing to me.  Frankly, I wasn’t personally prepared for traumatized children.  I had to learn to be.  I had to learn to let them be.  I wish I knew then what I know now.

My children are unfolding in their adult lives according to their abilities.  That was always their trajectory.  My advice to my former self (who might resemble your current self): worry less, accept more.  I think that is the definition of love.

Happy Thanksgiving,

Ce

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held in January 2019, from 10 am to 4 pm.  Childcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. Register on our website!

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public.  Look for new day in January TBD next year.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. 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 food 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.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Click Here to join our monthly  Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on December 12, 2018! 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.

GIVE A BOOK OF SUPPORT TO A FELLOW PARENT ON THE ADOPTION JOURNEY: 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.  Buy from Amazon or get a discounted copy here.

Fix Less, Accept More

Dear Parents,

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

What follows is not criticism.  It is a chance to acknowledge to yourself, “I got this,” or to see you have some growing to do as a parent of children from difficult beginnings.  Personally, I am always the latter, despite all I know.  Here goes.

Have you ever been in a relationship where you spent a lot of time trying to get the other person to change?

If you would learn to share your feelings…

If you would try to think about me once in a while…

If you were more motivated to grow…

If you were more considerate…

If you liked my family…

If you would go out more…

If you were more adventurous…

If you were more spontaneous…

If you were more reliable…

If you were more positive…

If you weren’t so negative…

If you weren’t so judgmental…

If you would care more about how you look…

If you would care less about what others think…

If you liked to hang out with my friends…

If you had more friends…

If you helped around the house more…

If you didn’t have so many big feelings all the time…

If you would just be happy…

If you weren’t so miserable…

If you worked less…

If you worked more…

If I felt more loved…

Then…what?  I would feel better. I would accept you. I would love you.

That relationship didn’t work out very well, did it?  Or, that relationship isn’t going very well now, is it?

For a moment, think about your relationship with your attachment challenged, traumatized child. Do you have an “If…then” list?

If you would just be normal…

If you would act your age…

If you could stop bouncing off the walls…

If you could stop talking all the time…

If you would just tell me what you feel…

If you would clean your room…

If you would tell the truth…

If you were trustworthy…

If you were honest…

If you were less self-centered…

If you would think about the rest of the family…

If you would take less and give more…

If you would do your homework…

If you would try harder…

If you were pleasant to be around…

If you brushed your teeth, showered, zipped…

If you would stop badgering me…

If you would act right…

If you would do the right thing…

If you weren’t always making me crazy…

If you would stop scaring me…

If you didn’t need so much supervision…

If you weren’t so needy…

If you weren’t so helpless…

If you would just grow up…

If you would show some love…

If you would stop controlling…

If you would stop throwing tantrums…

If you would accept some love…

If you would trust me…

If you would get better…

Then…what?  I would feel better. I would accept you. I would love you.

Enough said, right?

I am always fighting my own “If…then” stink’in think’in.  It keeps me from being present, from accepting, from being a loving person.  Love is free, not an “if-then” proposition. I am a work in progress. How about you? Steady on.

Love matters,

Ce

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held in January 2019, from 10 am to 4 pm.  Childcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. Register here or on our website!

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public. November 19, 2018from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. 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 food 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.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Click Here to join our monthly  Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on November 14, 2018! 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.

GIVE A BOOK OF SUPPORT TO A FELLOW PARENT ON THE ADOPTION JOURNEY: 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.  Buy from Amazon or get a discounted copy here.

 

Neurofeedback Solutions for reducing the intensity of Developmental Trauma symptoms in foster and adoptive children and their parents.  Get more information here.

Change Your Child’s Brain / Change Your Child’s Life

 

 

Sleep Is Key for Parents and Children from Difficult Beginnings

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Dear Parents,

I know you are well aware that your sleep and your child’s sleep are super important to a happy home. Do you know why?  And, do you know how to set the stage for getting the best sleep?  If you know, don’t read on.  If you are curious, here are the basic facts and a few tips for getting the most out of slumber.

THE WHY

There are 5 Sleep Stages:

  1.  Stage one is that delicious, half awake time when one is easily awakened, and moving in and out of sleep. Eye and muscle activity slows and some people experience sudden contractions followed by a feeling of falling.
  2. Stage two prepares the body for deep sleep by dropping body temperature and bringing eye movement to stillness.  There only a few spurts of rapid brain waves and the heart rate slows.
  3. Stage three takes you deep into sleep where slow delta brain waves are active with short bouts of faster brain waves.  During this stage, the body repairs and regrows tissues, builds bone and muscle, and strengthens the immune system. This is also the time of parasomnias–night terrors, sleepwalking and talking, and bedwetting.
  4. Stage four gets a person into deep sleep where the brain is producing exclusively slow delta waves. If roused from this state, people feel disoriented and have a difficult time placing where they are.
  5. Stage five is called REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep when brain waves most resemble the brain waves active during waking periods.  The first REM cycle begins after about 90 minutes of sleep and lasts for 10 minutes or so. REM cycles repeat several times throughout the night with the longest lasting for about an hour. This is where the emotions and events of the day are sorted out through dreams that likely will not be remembered.  Fun fact: Babies spend about 50% of their sleep in REM, while adults do only 20%.

Full sleep cycles occur about  4 or 5 times during a night.  If REM gets interrupted for any reason, the body will try to get more the next night to make up for it.

THE HOW

TIPS for Sleep:

Ce’s Soap Box: Turn all screens off 2 hours before bedtime.  Yep, phones, iPads, iPods, TVs, computers, laptops–OFF!  Create a calm home an hour before bedtime and everyone will fall asleep sooner and stay asleep longer.  Actually, reduce screentime overall for a healthier lifestyle.

CONTROL LIGHT AND KEEP A ROUTINE

  1. Try to go to sleep and get up at the same time every day.
  2. Avoid sleeping in—even on weekends.
  3. Be smart about napping.
  4. Fight after-dinner drowsiness. …
  5. Expose yourself to bright sunlight in the morning.
  6. Spend more time outside during daylight.
  7. Don’t read books on a backlit device.
  8. Use full spectrum light if you are indoors all day, every day.
  9. Sleep in a dark room.
  10. Keep light low when you go to the bathroom in the night.

YOU ARE WHAT YOU CONSUME

Foods that encourage sleep are Tryptophan-rich. Dairy, nuts, seeds, bananas, honey, and eggs. A small amount of good carbs before bed will help one fall asleep faster:  bowl of low sugar cereal with milk, half a turkey sandwich, bread and cheese, or nuts and crackers.

Eat only a small snack before bed because a big meal will disrupt your sleep by activating your digestive system and lead to nighttime trips to the bathroom.

Cut all sources of caffeine from the diet 4 to 6 hours before bedtime.  Beware of small traces of caffeine in chocolate, tea, decaf coffee. Read the label on all over-the-counter medications for pain, allergies, and colds, because they may have hidden caffeine.

Don’t drink alcohol 4 to 6 hours before sleep.  Alcohol can cause what I call the “bolt uprights” when your blood sugar drops and you are awakened from it.

Avoid tyrosine-rich foods at bedtime.  Protein activates brain activity.  And, of course, sugar is not a good idea at bedtime for challenged children and challenged adults, but really should be kept to a bare minimum for everyone all the time.

Staying hydrated during the day is important, but drinking fluids a couple of hours before bed will cause the need for urination throughout the night.

Smoking is a stimulant.  Skip the urge to relax this way before bed.  Actually, any time.  Try yoga instead.

MOVE

Exercise during the day (at least 3 hours before bedtime) is essential for restful sleep at night; however, exercise before bed is too stimulating.

Vigorous exercise is best, and even 10 minutes of walking per day will improve your sleep. Build a daily exercise routine because it takes some time before you see the full benefits of exercise on sleep hygiene.

TOOLBOX

Create a “toolbox” of relaxing bedtime rituals to help you unwind before sleep.

  • Read a book or magazine by a soft light
  • Take a warm bath
  • Listen to soft music
  • Do some easy stretches
  • Wind down with a favorite hobby
  • Listen to an audiobook
  • Make simple preparations for the next day and then LET IT GO
  • Dim the lights in the hours leading up to bed
  • Quiet your home and your mind
  • Meditate for a few minutes–Loving Kindness Meditation
  • Talk to your doc about the use of over the counter Melatonin to induce sleep

GET OFF THE HAMPSTER WHEEL

Whatever you are worried about will be better after a good night’s sleep, so give up thinking about stuff until you are fresh in the morning.  You will be surprised how quickly solutions come following sleep.

If you don’t believe me, check this out.

Love and sleep matter,

Ce

 

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held on November 10, 2018, from 10 am to 4 pmChildcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. Register here or on our website!

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public. November 19, 2018from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. 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 food 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.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Click Here to join our monthly  Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on November 14, 2018! 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.

GIVE MY BOOK FOR SUPPORT TO A FELLOW ADOPTION ADVENTURER: 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.  At Amazon or get a discounted copy here.

 

Neurofeedback Solutions for reducing the intensity of Developmental Trauma symptoms in foster and adoptive children and their parents.  Get more information here.

Change Your Child’s Brain / Change Your Child’s Life

 

 

The Imagination Is Worse Than Reality With Traumatized Children

Dear Parents,

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

As a fellow parent, I know what it is like to be scared senseless by TV movies about attachment challenged children, about News reports of foster children killing parents, and my imagination in the face of truly unbelievable, unrelenting shenanigans by my children. Much of my own dysregulation was caused by my ever-present fear of the future hovering around me. Sometimes I could feel the breath of fear, rank and hot on my neck.

Do yourself a favor:  only think of your children in the present. They are not your future nightmare.  They are children. They are traumatized, wounded children.

Difficult?  Oh yes.  Hurting and hurtful?  Certainly.  Criminals and killers?  Not usually.  Can they become criminals and killers?  Yes, just like the rest of the population. News flash: most criminals and killers are raised by their biological parents.

Put your fears away and bring your empathy, tenacity, and love out for the rest of their childhood.  Don’t let the sensational, unusual, or imaginal destroy your ability to love freely with hope now. Remember that attachment challenged brains are delayed emotionally.  Even if you have a terrible teen, calculate the true emotional age (about half the chronological age). Still pretty darned young, right?

Love matters,

Ce

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held on November 10, 2018, from 10 am to 4 pmChildcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. Register here or on our website!

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public. November 19, 2018from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. 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 food 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.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Click Here to join our monthly  Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on November 14, 2018! 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.

GIVE MY BOOK FOR SUPPORT TO A FELLOW ADOPTION ADVENTURER: 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.  At Amazon or get a discounted copy here.

 

Neurofeedback Solutions for reducing the intensity of Developmental Trauma symptoms in foster and adoptive children and their parents.  Get more information here.

Change Your Child’s Brain / Change Your Child’s Life

 

 

Free This Weekend Only: Better Sleep for Anxious Children

Dear Parents,

This weekend only Renee Jain, creator of GoZen (which I really enjoy, too), is giving a free gift  to anyone who wants to listen to 18 Sleep Experts share about improving sleep for children who have trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, waking in fear, and/or sleeping with you way past the toddler years.

Here is the link.  If your child has trouble sleeping, take the time to consume some help for it.

Listen to 18 Sleep Experts             https://talks.bettersleepforkids.com/encore

Enjoy.

Love matters,

Ce

 

Murphy’s Law: Heaters Bust at the Door to Winter

Dear Parents,

Why do heaters stop working the second the temperature outside drops below 50 degrees? Don’t answer that.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

I am thinking about love. Despite all of my references to love, I am not a particularly touchy-feely person.  I am more of a brutally honest, blunt pragmatist with a huge dose of life experience that led me down a twisty-turny path to a few solid beliefs.  Here they are:

  • Life is too long and too short to be “small-minded.”
  • Nothing but love really matters in the beginning, middle, or end.
  • Love is a commitment and an attitude of generous abundance and acceptance, not a feeling.
  • Giving away love doesn’t hurt one little bit or cost one little cent; it’s free and healing.

I discovered somewhere along the line that I can love anyone, even people I don’t particularly want to have even a cappuccino with.  Love is an attitude with an open heart.

How this relates to attachment challenged, traumatized children is simple. If love is an attitude, with or without feeling, then it is possible to give generous abundance and acceptance in the face of our children’s biggest and most painful shenanigans.

Love is about the lover, not about the perceived lovability or worthiness of the beloved.

Just a little something to chew on.

Love matters,

Ce

Love begets love eventually.

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held on November 10, 2018 from 10 am to 4 pmChildcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. Register here or on our website!

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public. October 19th, 2018 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. 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 food 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.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Click Here to join our monthly  Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on October 10th, 2018! 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.

GIVE MY BOOK FOR SUPPORT TO A FELLOW ADOPTION ADVENTURER: 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.  At Amazon or get a discounted copy here.

 

 

Save Your Words of Wisdom Parents

Dear Parents,

Man alive, do we parents talk too much to teenagers–actually to all children.  Why do we do that when we know that even our kindest voice can feel like little pins pricking into their eyeballs? Too graphic? Sorry.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Talk less–be slow to fault-find and fast to accept.

Back off a bit with parenting and go forward a bit with fun and novelty.  Watch movies together. Bake brownies. Find a “thing” you both like, and don’t let a week go by without doing it.

Work hard at soothing your own sense of helplessness, rejection, and inadequacy.  Your teenager feels that way but you don’t have to because you are not 15–thank the Universe for that small gift.

Love matters,

Ce

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held on November 10, 2018 from 10 am to 4 pmChildcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. Register here or on our website!

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public. October 19th, 2018 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. 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 food 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.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Click Here to join our monthly  Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on October 10th, 2018! 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.

GIVE MY BOOK FOR SUPPORT TO A FELLOW ADOPTION ADVENTURER: 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.  At Amazon or get a discounted copy here.

 

 

 

Fight, Flight, Freeze, Appease, or Lie

Dear Parents,

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Is your child’s lying a sign of pathology or future doom? Is it disrespectful and an indicator that your child is morally bankrupt?  I know you have thoughts, at least, if not outright accusations leveled toward your child of his/her untrustworthiness.  I sure thought worse and said plenty to my children that I regret before I knew what was happening.

There is evolving research that there is a fifth neuro-biologically driven addition to the sympathetic nervous system’s response to perceived threat or danger.  Faced with extreme stress, human’s have four survival modes–fight, flight, freeze, or appease. It seems the new self-protective mechanism is lying–fib your way out.  Can’t run, can’t hit, staring like a deer in the headlights won’t work, better run then with a tall tale.  If it works for even a brief moment, the limbic part of the brain that has just shot into a neuro-cascade of stress hormones–adrenaline and cortisol–now gets a reward to the brain when the lie allows for a momentary reprieve from danger in the form of  a) parental disapproval, b) parental punishment, c) shame feelings, d) lowered self-esteem and self-efficacy.  In essence, lying works to help the child survive a little bit longer physically, emotionally, and socially.  While it is often short-lived and short-sighted, lying works in the moment to lift the threat.  Win/Win on the level of brain function.

What I’ve just described, happens every day in our homes with children from difficult beginnings because Developmental Trauma has impaired the development of the pre-frontal cortex where executive function with higher order thought resides.

There are three functions that lend your child’s brain to lying:

Weak Inhibition: Impulsivity and the inability to stop an action.  Under pressure to respond to a stressful parental question like “Did you do xyz?”,  verbal communication jumps out before logical thought has kicked in.

Poor Emotion Regulation: Extreme overwhelming fear response in the face of a stressful situation–parental punishment, disapproval, rejection, lowered value, shame, past abuse imprints.

Faulty Working Memory: Poor planning for getting “found out” in the heat of the current moment. Inability to apply prior teaching and coaching from the recent past to the present.

Early Imprint: If your child comes home to you after being harmed by any kind of abuse, including neglect, and by the nature of fostering/adoption there is also at least one–if not many–attachment breach, your child’s brain is pre-conditioned and hardwired to distrust parents, even in the absence of evidence that the current parent is untrustworthy.  Chronically projecting the past onto the present is a hallmark of Developmental Trauma.

What is the answer then for caregivers? 

Well, it is not as easy to extinguish lying as it is to understand the neuroscience of it.  Imagine that.

  1.  Use PACE in all your interactions with your child.  This is an attitude of playfulness, acceptance, curiosity, and empathy.  This is how we ought to treat all children regardless of their beginnings because it is loving and respectful to their budding humanness.
  2. Use soft, empathic questioning to help prepare your child to tell the truth. Are you worried about getting into big trouble or about my disappointment?  Sweetheart, I know it is hard for you to tell me the truth when you are afraid of getting into trouble and feeling bad.  I understand that and I don’t want you to be in trouble or to be afraid of bad feelings inside or outside.  I am only interested in you being able to tell the truth.  There will be no trouble.  I promise. Parents, be sure to keep that promise if you make it.
  3. Give space for the child to regulate and allow room for a thoughtful response, rather than an impulsive one. So, Let’s take a few minutes to think before we talk.  This is hard for parents to do.  We seem to be impulsive about lying, too.  Did you take that candy from your teacher?  Tell me right now.  Since you already know the answer, don’t bother to ask. Making a demand to tell the truth will definitely set the survival lower brain processes into action. It is a setup for lying.
  4. Regulate with your child.  Admit it, you get dysregulated, too, when your child lies. We parents often feel wildly disrespected by lying.  We also feel intense fear that our child is going to be unsuccessful in life if lying persists into adulthood.  When a child is 8, 9, 10 years old, you can be sure lying is not the precursor for a school to prison pipeline.
  5. Resist the urge to teach by punishing the crime that is being lied about.  Reward the truth with a reprieve from the negative consequences of your disappointment, anger, or loss of stature in your eyes. Withhold punishment of any kind to create felt safety.  Brainstorm a restorative justice response with your child once all the truth is out and the regulation is back to normal. Restorative justice is doing a kindness like a chore for someone wronged.  Or it might be writing a letter of apology.  It could be repairing something broken and paying for the supplies out of birthday money or allowance.

None of this will make lying go away.  It is the last survival behavior to go, so be prepared to regulated over the long haul.  As your child ages into adulthood, you will have instilled a habit of telling the truth.  Isn’t that the point after all?

Love matters,

Ce

The Attach Place Upcoming Events Calendar

Trust-based Therapeutic Parenting Class for Parents of Children from Difficult Beginnings by Ce Eshelman, LMFT will be held in November 10, 2018 from 10 am to 4 pmChildcare provided for an additional fee. CALVCB will reimburse this training. Register here or on our website!

AUTISM Support Group:  Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public. October 19th, 2018 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. 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 food 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.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Click Here to join our monthly  Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on October 10th, 2018! 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.

GIVE MY BOOK FOR SUPPORT TO A FELLOW ADOPTION ADVENTURER: 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.  At Amazon or get a discounted copy here.

 

 

 

Parents Doing Their Own Emotional Work

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Dear Parents,

I don’t usually share other writers’ works because it is like cheating for me; however, this came to me from the “Mental Health on the Mighty” blog and it made me think that you, parents, might like a way to see if your own childhood experiences impact you in any of the ways it has impacted the people commenting below.  If you see yourself in some of these remarks, then you might need to do some work on yourself to keep from constant dysregulation with your children.

21 Things You Do As An Adult If You Grew Up With Low Self-Esteem

by Juliette Virzi

Growing up, most of us aren’t taught about feelings and mental health. So if you are a kid struggling with low self-esteem, it’s easy to think there’s just something wrong with you.

That’s why we want anyone who grew up with low self-esteem to know there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you, and you’re not alone.

Maybe you grew up in an abusive household, and you constantly battle feelings of unworthiness. Maybe you were bullied as a kid, and are still dealing with the fallout of the things that were said and done to you. Or maybe you grew up with a mental illness and it affected your self-image.

Whatever the situation was for you, you’re not alone in it — even when it feels like it. To find out what people do now as adults because of a childhood struggle with self-esteem, we turned to our Mighty community to share their experiences with us. 

If you grew up with low self-esteem, we are so grateful you’re here and in our community. If you’re struggling, we encourage you to post a Thought or Question about it on the site to get support from other people in our community who get it.

Here’s what our community told us:

  1. I automatically assume a compliment is either a lie or they need something from me so they’re building up to ask it.” — Brittany S.
  2. “As an adult, having low self-esteem means I have to ask people’s opinions on how to complete even the simplest of tasks as I don’t believe my own solution is good enough, or the correct way.” — Anna B.
  3. “Constantly looking for validation from others… and not knowing how to say ‘no.’” — Jenna E.
  4. “Anytime somebody makes a negative comment about me, I think about it for months.” — Janet B.
  5. “I am super insecure in relationships. I know I’m not good enough or they can do better so I’m constantly needing attention and validation.” — Danielle H.
  6. “With my low self-esteem I constantly wear long baggy clothes. I find no point in putting work into my makeup or hair since I feel that no one would notice/care even if I did.” — Cassandra P.
  7. “I won’t go into public very often, especially since gaining weight. Then when I walk past people I hold my breath and pray nobody starts laughing or whispering.” — Angie T.
  8. “I have to prove myself to everyone. My family, my friends, my co-workers, my job, my therapist, the lady checking out my groceries, my landlord, my gym trainer, my dog, the lady that watches my dog… you get it. It’s constant and exhausting.” — Holley L.
  9. “I have no idea how to take a compliment, and I’m way too embarrassed to talk in public.” — Justin L.
  10. “Eye contact scares me.” — Lucy G.
  11. “Sex! No confidence when it comes to my body or performance.” — Anastasia H.
  12. “I seek validation from other people on Facebook to the detriment of my mental well-being. So when my posts get ignored/no one ‘likes’ them, I assume I’m not liked/worthy.” — Faye E.
  13. “Job interviews are the worst. How do you explain what a great person you are when you don’t believe it?” — Kristi J.
  14. I’m so used to feeling less-than that I really have to psych myself up to do something minor like make a comment in a group, on or offline. Past criticism haunts me like I wish compliments would.” — Robin W.
  15. “My service in the military helped to pick my esteem back up. I was good at it. I enjoyed it. Now that I’m out I’m having a hard time being proud of anything I do. Feels like I lost direction. But it can only get better.” — John B.
  16. “Constantly changing my personality to those around me so I fit in and never stick out. I don’t know who I am.” — Nicole V.
  17. I constantly pick myself apart and notice all my flaws.” — Corinna H.
  18. “I rarely take pictures. I never believe any compliment. I think people feel sorry for me or want to use me. I have never looked at myself and felt attractive, I only see flaws.” — Charly B.
  19. “Dating has been horrible. I constantly second-guess and over-criticize myself. I’ve convinced myself a lot that I don’t deserve to be in a healthy, solid relationship, but I’ve finally started to let that go!” — Emily L.
  20. “I was told by a parent that I was worthless… and it has carried over into my adult life in the worst ways. I have a fear of being ignored by the people I love and have made myself into a doormat in so many ways just to make sure they never feel how I feel.” — Mikki I.
  21. “Not knowing who I am. I looked for affection and attention and validation for so long in everyone else that I’m not sure who I was. Or who I am. I’m spending my mid 30s getting back to who I am. And being confident that she’s an amazing person with all the love and kindness and her heart. And she’s smart too.” — Kristy G.

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When we feel/believe/experience things like these, we can find the slings and arrows of our children from difficult beginnings intolerable.  We can become reactive and hurtful right back. 

No shame.  Just get honest with yourself and get whatever help you need to heal from your own difficult beginnings.

Love matters,

Ce