Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Childhood Trauma and Trust

  Early child hood trauma leaves it's mark on people. Things like a fire drill at school can cause terror and major acting out....speaking from experience here! What makes it even harder is when your child doesn't trust you enough to believe you when you explain that fire drills are nothing to fear. Our child was looking for the fire engines even after having me walk him through the steps and whys and wherefore's of a fire drill!
      We have only recently figured out why one child "flips out" when it is time to leave someplace, be it a friends house, Grandma's house or other gathering. When we tell her it is time to tell your friends bye, she melts down in a puddle of sobbing. It was getting so frustrating!  We finally began putting the pieces together and feel it stems back to being removed from her mom as a baby. Saying bye, triggers that feeling of terror, of loss. The same with hoarding "junk". When you have what is nearest and dearest taken away, you naturally cling to anything you can grasp. At our TBRI training the other week we were told that every behavior has a meaning. We began analyzing various behaviors and sure enough, we came up with logical explanations for them.
   I have had to let go of, or at least am trying to let go of the "what will people think," attitude. What do you do when your child stomps his foot and yells, "I don't want to!" after being told to pick up his toys, then throws a few at you for good measure? I look at all the little ones half his age who are busily picking up toys and cringe. When you are in the store and a child goes limp because you held his hand when he wasn't able to keep his hands off merchandise. Then refuses to walk, forcing you to carry him, or worse begins screaming. My first thought is, how am I going to prove that this really is my child and I am not forcing someone else's child to come with me. I wouldn't be the first mom who has experienced this, especially if the child is of a different nationality than you are. I should begin carrying documentation, but keep procrastinating. Or how about when your parenting looks inconsistent. Like the time one child threw a fit when told to do something and you gave consequences but five minutes later another of your children does the same thing and you hold them and comfort them? Do you explain that the first child is testing his boundaries and knows that he gets consequences for throwing fits while the second child was triggered by your command and is reacting out of fear. Their tantrum's look very much alike to the untrained eye but parent them for a few weeks and you will be surprised at the differences you see. My wise husband tells me to stop worrying what other people think and concentrate on doing what is best for each child. If only I would default to that mindset rather than the "what if," mind set.
    I think a lot of my fear stems from our CYS investigation. When you have to explain why you did thus and thus and why you didn't do this or that and are you really sure you made the right decision, you begin to question yourself. What makes it worse is that there are times when we are just "winging it". Praying as we go and trusting that God would show us what to do next. When you really don't know what is going on with your child who has been screaming for hours and he either can't or won't tell you what is wrong. Do you send them to bed, try to reason with them, hold them, cry with them or what? If you do the wrong thing you could make the situation many times worse but if you give the child what he needs, you could stop the raging in it's tracks. At the Empowered To Connect Conference, they stressed giving your child a voice and making them use words rather than screaming (or whatever is their way of getting their feelings out). Some of our children had a hard time the first few days but more and more often they only need a few prompts to get them talking. When we came home from the Conference we immediately began implementing some of things we learned. Tristan wasn't impressed with the new techniques, as they applied to him as well. He said, "Ever since you went to those meetings, you are doing things different". That wasn't a compliment either!
    Then there are days when everyone is smiling and happy. We savor those times and they are happening more and more often, praise God! Even though the way is tough we wouldn't trade our blessings for anything,. They have made us stretch and grow in painful but necessary ways. I can't be thankful enough for the safe childhood I had. By God's grace, a large amount of humility and lot's of love, we hope and pray those memories and triggers will fade.

Let go, and let God,
do what is best
even though we must
go through the test.
Let go, and let faith,
work all things out
even though we may have
some lingering doubt.
Let go, and let the Spirit
guide and lead
lest we forget
our spiritual need.
Let go, and let trust,
do its part
even though we might have
a wavering heart.
Let go, and let Christ,
give His perfect rest
so He can show us . . .
how much we are blessed!

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