Archive for parenting children with special needs

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.

This Really Is My Life

Dear Parents,

I took my 20-year-old daughter for a psychiatric evaluation today.  I have somehow escaped this for the last two years, since she became an adult.  I offered to pay for an eval outside the Medi-Cal system in order to get a legitimate diagnosis and medication that is not dependent on the amount of money one can pay.  So, today was the day.

In a very short period of time, the psychiatrist leveled one of the diagnoses I knew would be given–Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). In that moment my heart cracked open and my mother blood leaked out onto the floor.  If you are not a therapist, this diagnosis may mean nothing to you. However, the diagnosis is often considered the bane of a therapist’s existence when a person labeled with it walks across the threshold.

I am breaking the therapist code of silence right now, because, as a therapist, I am not supposed to say any of this out loud.  As a matter of fact, I am pretty sure I will be stoned for daring to speak this. Most therapists (though not all) only take one or two people labeled “Borderline” into their practice at a time.  Why is that, you might wonder?  It is because they are so difficult to treat.  BPD person’s are predominantly female and well known for love you/hate you outbursts.  They often burst out of therapy the way attachment challenged children outburst over parenting.

My daughter had love you/hate you outbursts from the day I brought her home at three-years-old.  And, she still does.  Reactive Attachment Disorder grown-up without successful intervention is often called Borderline Personality Disorder in women and Narcissistic Personality Disorder in men.

I want you to know that early, effective intervention is possible.  Healing is possible. You can change the trajectory of your sweet, attachment challenged child.  How?  With consistent, trust-based, brain-based, therapeutic parenting.  That is how.

When my children were young, I wish I knew then what I know now.  I desperately wish this.  Right now, I am pleased my daughter lives with me and I have a chance to help her heal from the horrible wounds of attachment trauma in early childhood.  It is never too late.  Never.  I know this in my bones.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

To sign-up for daily Wisdom for Adoptive Parents, click here.

The next 8-hr. Trust-based Parent Training is scheduled for April 23rd and 30th from 12 noon to 4 pm.  $200 per two person couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up, email Jen@attachplace.com and she will register you.

TIME CHANGE: Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 6pm to 8pm.  Group and childcare are free.
picture of cover

Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents

To buy your very own copy of Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT, go to Amazon.com or www.attachplace.com/drowing-hair-fire.  Please be so kind as to leave a review on Amazon.  Thank you.

Sometimes Logical Consequences Are Not Logical At All

What is a logical consequence?  This is not that easy to parse out for some of us.  I will give it a try here.

A logical consequence is an obvious outcome for positive or negative behavior.  Seems straight forward, right?  For example, if I go outside in winter without my jacket, logically, I will be cold. If I don’t want to be cold, next time I will wear my jacket. If I study for a test, logically, I will do better than if I don’t study. If I want to do the best I can, next time I will study before a test.

Actually, when children from difficult beginnings are involved in the equation, logical consequences have to be taught through repetition and short, novel experiences.  If the sensory systems and executive functions don’t work very well due to trauma and abandonment, your child might go out in winter without a coat no matter how many times you let her go out without her coat and get cold.  She might not have the ability to make obvious, logical decisions.  Just as you wouldn’t let a two-year-old decide to go out without a coat in winter to teach a lesson, you need to help your wounded child of any age take care of herself through training, cueing, and repetition.  What is logical for most parents, is not obvious for kids with slow to develop brains.

So, how can you teach a child from difficult beginnings to put on a jacket before going out, when it is cold outside?  First, slow down. Make jackets plainly available by the door. Shoes, too, if that will make the whole get ready for winter routine easier. Tell your child, In winter it is often cold outside, so everyone puts on a jacket before going out, even when one is warm while inside.  

Can you see what might be happening there?  It is warm inside the house, therefore, your child may not have an environmental cue that a jacket is required.  Yes, I know you know it is winter, you can hear the wind blowing outside, and see the rain hitting the window panes, but your child may not be tuned in to that at all.  To bring the cues into your child’s awareness, you might call attention to the wind sounds, and the rain drops on the windows and ask, Can you hear the wind outside?  See the rain drops on the window? What will you need to wear to stay warm when you go out?  Your child might say gloves and miss the jacket all together.  That’s okay.  Gloves are good, too.

Take time for training, connect the cues in the environment, and make the goods plainly visible.   If your child has trouble connecting the dots, you can put pictures of getting ready to go out in winter on a poster board by the door.  Another way of giving novel experience, is to simply open the door.  When your child feels the cold, ask, What do you need to wear to stay warm today?  Then close the door and help put on a jacket.  Letting your child go to school or outside in cold weather without a jacket to teach logical consequences is at best tone-deaf to the needs of your special child and at worst simply cruel, when that child does not have the self-awareness to learn the lesson.

The drawn out example above is an example that can be applied to nearly everything your child continues to do thoughtlessly–without thought.  Insisting that a challenged child learn from logical consequences alone will not work, and punishment is never a replacement for loving, therapeutic parenting.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place Center for Strengthening Relationships

Love matters,

Ce

 

The next 8 hr. Trust Based Parent Training is scheduled for April 23rd and 30th from 12noon to 4pm.  $200 per couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day, second child $10 additional. To sign up email Jen@attachplace.com and she will register you.

 Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.  Group and childcare are free.
Look for Ce’s Upcoming Bookpicture of cover
 
Drowning with My Hair On Fire is a compilation of over 175 daily support letters to parents of adoptive children and other children from difficult beginnings.  With a forward by Dave Ziegler, Ph.D. and a brief personal memoir, this publication is a response to blog-reader requests for a book of letters that can be easily returned to day after day, when inspiration is hard to find.
Praise for Drowning with My Hair On Fire
This woman saved our family. This book will save your sanity! After years (and many therapists) of getting it wrong, Ce Eshelman got our traumatized family on the right path to attachment, sanity, and big biglove. Ce’s unique therapy is grounded in the latest brain research, her own struggles raising traumatized children, and work with hundreds of families like ours. Her stories, contained in this book, are our stories: full of pain, confusion, hope, faith, love and practical magic that really works.
Elaine Smith, Adoptive MotherDrowning with My Hair on Fire Book Cover
Ce’s daily blog has been a lifesaver, particularly when days are most dreary and hopeless.  Not only have her words of empathy proven to be priceless to our family, but I have often forwarded them on to others.  Such a comfort to feel understood, with no judgment.
Patty O’Hair, Adoptive Mother
In a real sense “Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents” is a daily mediation of struggle, success, failure and getting up and trying again.  If that sounds like too much to subject yourself to then don’t adopt a challenging child.  And one more thing, shouldn’t we require prospective adoptive parents to read “Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents” rather than another ‘All they need is love’ manual?
Dave Ziegler, Ph.D., founder of Jasper Mountain Center and author of many books on raising children from difficult beginnings.

 

Energize Times Three

Image
Wisdom For Adoptive Parents
Dear Parent,
Raising traumatized, attachment challenged children is stressful and you must take care of your energy systems in order not to fall prey to the ravages of depletion.  When I am depleted, I eat too much, sleep too little, and snap at my children.  I am even known to yell and be unreasonable. During these times, I am exhausted and I cry a lot, too. Imagine that.
There are three basic human energy systems:
Physical, body
Emotional, mood
Mental, problem-solving
When your body is depleted, you must nurture and rest it.  Sleep is ever so important to all energy systems, especially your body.  Go to bed early, sleep at least 8 hours, and get up early. Exercise moderately and eat clean foods (that means unprocessed and fresh.)  This is all obvious and yet extremely hard to put first in your life when your child is screaming like a banshee.  Yes, it is hard.  Do it anyway.
You can lift your mood by shifting your posture, directing your eyes more upward than downward, getting sunlight first thing in the morning, and engaging in physical or intellectual activities to give your emotions a distracted relief.  Check-out your thinking to make sure you aren’t telling yourself horror stories about the future of your child.  Nothing sours a mood more than catastrophizing the “what ifs” for 10 years from now.
Thinking, pondering and obsessing about something over and over is like putting yourself in a hamster cage and running the wheel all day and all night.  You are wearing your mental capacity out.  Give your mind a break by putting on some music and get your jiggy on (okay I don’t know what that means either) or call a friend for a gabfest over tea. I read an article about Caffeinated Napping that touted drinking a cup of coffee just before a 20-minute nap; the theory being that the coffee would kick in just as you wake to make you feel truly energized. Who knew?  I’ve been doing that for years, but I really don’t recommend it. A brisk walk with the dog is always a welcome mental refresher. Oxygen to the brain is a good thing.
If you aren’t taking care of your energy systems, you are not going to be taking good care of your child.  Oh, one last thing: stay away from the blue light of screens for at least four hours before bedtime and you might find you sleep like a puppy all cozied up under the covers.
Love matters,
Ce
The next 8 hr. Trust Based Parent Training is scheduled for February 20th and 27th from 12noon to 4pm.  $200 per couple.  Childcare available for $30 each day. To sign up email Jen@attachplace.com and she will register you.
 
Monthly Adoptive Parent Support Group is every second Wednesday of the month from 5:30pm to 7:30pm.  Group and Childcare are Free.
Look for Ce Eshelman’s Upcoming Book
 
Drowning With My Hair On Fire
Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents
 
Expected Publication Date: February 15, 2016
Drowning with My Hair On Fire is a compilation of over 175 daily support letters to parents of adoptive children and other children from difficult beginnings.  With a forward by Dave Ziegler, Ph.D. and a brief personal memoir, this publication is a response to blog-reader requests for a book of letters that can be easily returned to day after day, when inspiration is hard to find.
Praise for Drowning with My Hair On Fire
This woman saved our family. This book will save your sanity! After years (and many therapists) of getting it wrong, Ce Eshelman got our traumatized family on the right path to attachment, sanity, and big big love. Ce’s unique therapy is grounded in the latest brain research, her own struggles raising traumatized children, and work with hundreds of families like ours. Her stories, contained in this book, are our stories: full of pain, confusion, hope, faith, love and practical magic that really works.
Elaine Smith, Adoptive Mother
Ce’s daily blog has been a lifesaver, particularly when days are most dreary and hopeless.  Not only have her words of empathy proven to be priceless to our family, but I have often forwarded them on to others.  Such a comfort to feel understood, with no judgment.
Patty O’Hair, Adoptive Mother
In a real sense “Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents” is a daily mediation of struggle, success, failure and getting up and trying again.  If that sounds like too much to subject yourself to then don’t adopt a challenging child.  And one more thing, shouldn’t we require prospective adoptive parents to read “Drowning with My Hair on Fire: Insanity Relief for Adoptive Parents” rather than another ‘All they need is love’ manual?
Dave Ziegler, Ph.D., founder of Jasper Mountain Center and author of many books on raising children from difficult beginnings.

I Can’t Accept Him

Parents get frustrated, even desperate when they cannot make their child be different (i.e. be good.)  We can even get to the point where we don’t want to be around our traumatized child and have nothing positive to say. I understand that; however, check out this comment, “I can’t accept him this way.”  If you don’t accept your child the way he is, then that same child will not have a cheerleader to encourage positive movement forward. Our children need to see their preciousness in our eyes, even when their behavior is ugly and unacceptable. That acceptance says they are lovable. What if when you heard that snarky tone, processed those mean words, and saw that offensive behavior, you gently requested a correction with compassion in your voice and soft loving eyes?  That would mean you are being a loving parent.  Your child needs love when s/he is being the worst.  Children do bad things when they feel bad about themselves and those around them. Turn the tides by focusing on being love in action and simply correct the offense with your heart intact.  Work very hard not to be a negative mirror to your child.  Instead, be a loving one.  Your child, who is acting out pain, needs the latter more.

Love Matters,

Ce Eshelman, LMFT

www.attachplace.com

The Attach Place provides a monthly, no feeAdoptive Parent Support Group in Sacramento, every 2ndWednesday of each month.  Next group is December 9th at a NEW time–5:30 pm. Join us.  Child care provided.

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 online atwww.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.

Commit to being love in action.

Parenting Takes Discipline, Self-Discipline

Let me remind you that the first level of intervention, correction, is a playful request to try it again sweetie.  If no is the reflexive answer, breathe, and give your second response, Okay, you can try it again later. 

Your job is to require the redo before the very next time you give your child what s/he wants.  It’s not a power struggle.  It is a waiting game, a regulation game. Delayed gratification is now on your plate. It’s challenging, isn’t it?  Our kids are challenged that way, too.

This form of correction needs to be the major form of intervention in your home. This is the way you get your child’s negative snark down and the respectful tone up.  Try it.

 

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.

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.

Reach Back

All of us make bids for love and attention.  I think about my own ways of getting my husband’s attention and it makes me chuckle.  I put on my best 5-year-old pout face, exaggerate the frown, and say something in a whiny, yet demanding voice like, “Heyyyyyy, you didn’t kiss me this morning.”  To which my husband smiles, opens up his arms, and comes in for a hug and kiss.  He knows I am kidding, and he knows I am not really kidding, too. I need my attention and kiss; then I am shored up for the day, and he is free to be on his way.  
 
I’m 57, and I make childish bids for love and attention that way. I promise I make them as an adult, too, in case you are worried about me.  Imagine how I would feel, though, if my husband didn’t reach back for me when I made my childish bid?  What if he walked away, told me to stop being ridiculous, or to grow up? 
 
When your five foot tall child runs up to you with arms up-raised like you could actually lift her into your arms (like when she was much younger), smile and open your arms for a hug and kiss.  No questions, no hesitation, no rejection.
 
Be easy with your affection, attention, smiling eyes, and love. We humans have these gifts in abundance, and we are free to give them away.  That’s a good thing because our children need so much love to feel good enough to take it in and give it back
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.

Even when the bid for love seems ridiculous, 
find a way to respond with abandon.  Love matters.

See the Light

Got phished and spent every free moment Thursday and Friday restoring my passwords and opening new bank accounts.   Missed Friday’s letter to YOU.  
 
I don’t think Dr. Wayne Dyer ever raised attachment challenged, traumatized children, but he could have done a great job if he lived by his own words:
 
See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see.
Give this a shot today.  Start by seeing the light in yourself first; then, move right along to your challenging child.  See if it makes a difference in your feelings and the behavior of your 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 September 9th at 6pm. Come join us.  Online RSVP each month required only if 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 online atwww.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.

Everyone has a light inside.  It is our blessing to see it.