Kids who have been traumatized by maltreatment or by witnessing maltreatment of others have highly developed coping mechanisms. They are often very serious adapters and adjusters. Behaviors like aggression, lying, opposition, shutting down, manipulating, stealing, nonsensical chatter, distraction, sneaking, hoarding, lethargy, refusal, and low motivation are all examples of adaptive coping strategies.
Be very, very careful not to label your children as “bad seeds” because they use everything available to them to survive long after the need to be on “survival mode” has ceased to exist. Survival mode is hardwired and takes years to rewire into “safety mode.”
What you do in the face of all that behavior matters. Fear can drive us to tell our kids they are liars and will go to jail someday. Fear can drive us to tell our kids they are acting like whores. Fear can drive us to tell our kids they have no conscience. Fear can drive us to tell our kids they are just like their low life birth parents. Fear can drive us to do and say things we are ashamed of thinking and saying. Acting out our fear in those ways further wounds our previously traumatized children and in no way does it change their survival mode behavior.
Parent by a set of principles to keep you on the high road:
Make sure you are a shiny beacon of safety when you parent your child. Safety is the ultimate solution to moving your children out of survival mode and away from negative coping strategies. To be a safe parent you have to find a way to quell your own fears. Fear puts you into survival mode. No one feels safe then.
I know you are scared for your children. Find a way to surrender it to the Universe, your higher power, the greater good, God, or whatever else you can find to put your faith in. Your child needs your love, not your fear. You have to manage your own survival behaviors to help your children manage theirs.
Look what is coming at the end of August…August 28th to be exact.
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AUTISM Support Group: Monthly Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. Open to the public. NEW DAY: Every third Monday from 5:30 to 7pm. Gluten-free snacks provided. Please RSVP to Andrea@attachplace.com so we get enough snacks. This is a monthly social group for the youth; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. There will also be occasional fun field trips, like bowling, ice skating, roller skating, etc. A donation of $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 ONLINE ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT: Adoptive Parent Support Group, July 10th, 2019. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm online. Open to the public. If you would like a link to the webinar, reply to this post with Adoption Support Group in the subject line.
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 order a discounted copy here.