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Friday, August 5, 2016

Working Through Big Feelings

    We have had a busy week thus far beginning with Sunday evening when we attended a birthday party for a friend. As usual Joseph stayed with either Dean or I all evening. He wanted to play on the swing set but there were at least 2 dozen children playing on it and Joseph was already overstimulated from all the noise, food and people so Dean told him he doesn't think that would be a good idea. Joseph was not happy with that answer so Dean told him to look at the playground.

 "What do you see?" he asked. 

 "Lot's of people!" Joseph replied.

"And how do you think you would feel if you went and played with them?"

"I would probably have big feelings and make bad choices!" 
For our children big feelings are usually a combination of emotions but they typically include anxiety, fear and excitement. When a child, particularly Joseph, experiences these emotions his behavior deteriorates.

 "Would Daddy be keeping you safe if he left you play when he knows you would have a hard time making good choices?" 

Joseph shook his head and Dean said from then on Joseph was content to stay by his side because he knew Daddy would protect him. 

Sometimes depending upon Joseph's current ability to function, either Dean or I will stay nearby while he plays. This is because he is much like a newborn who cannot regulate his emotions, he needs us to help him. A baby who is crying, will calm down when mom picks him up and cuddles him because he aligns his emotions to his mom's. Mom is calm, that means I am safe. When Joseph is playing and we are nearby we can see when  his emotions are becoming overwhelming and pull him aside to help him calm down.


   We spent the beginning of the week at the cabin with family (I will share picture on another post) and the change of routine sent the children into an emotional tailspin. I knew it was coming but I was still caught off guard by the intensity of it all. Our children feel safest at home, well at least most of them do, because they know the rules and what is expected of them. Going away from their "safe place" is scary stuff. They aren't aware of it but I am certain it stirs up those feelings of fear and uncertainty they had when they were removed from their biological parents. They know that we are spending a few nights away and will return home, but their little bodies remember the terror they felt as helpless infants and they react accordingly.

  Joseph slept very little while we were gone. It always concerns us when he does that because we know how little it can take for his brain function to be affected. Joseph didn't have his own room with an alarm on the door like he does at home which made him feel unsafe. We installed the alarm to prevent him from roaming the house at night but he is certain the alarm is to prevent people from entering his room while he sleeps. Not having the protection of his alarm played a part in his inability to sleep as he thought he had to stay awake to stay safe. Never mind that mom and dad were directly across the hall and the bedroom doors were open. 

 Irregular mealtime's stirred up memories of hunger and the fear of not being fed reared it's head. Plus there were special snacks around that I usually do not buy and like many children who have experienced hunger and neglect, my little one's could not leave the snacks alone and it upset them when we told them had had enough.

Sometimes I wonder why we bother going away as it just stirs things up but then I remind myself of the good times. The extra time I have to read stories to the children, the meltdown that we conquered, the glow of excitement in the children's eyes when we were packing up to leave, not to mention all the memories we made while we were gone and I always arrive at the same conclusion, it is worth it!

  We always take our children's favorite stuffed animals along when we go away overnight as well as their own sleeping bag. What do you do to alleviate the fear of change?

For tips on helping alleviate anxiety check out: Better Help

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