Monday, December 26, 2016

Knowing The Why Behind Negative Behavior Doesn't Lessen The Pain

"Knowing the reason behind the behavior does not lessen the pain of parenting a traumatized child,"

- They are intentionally pushing you away because they are afraid to get close.... 
True, but have you ever been in a situation where someone is "allowed" to dish out abuse 24/7 and you are expected to take it and told to love the person more? Most people who find themselves in such a situation know why their child is treating them so badly and because of that knowledge they can rise above it. Of course there are times when it is just too much and they crash but what they cannot bear is when they are told to love their child more, or "If you would stop expecting them to make bad choices, they would." Or, "He/she is always so sweet, maybe you should get some therapy for yourself," insinuating that perhaps you are the problem. If their is a family in your life who has a severely traumatized child, especially if they have attachment difficulties, give the parent some extra grace. Try believing the parent, give them the benefit of the doubt. When the child realizes you are no longer doubting what his parents say, you may have the opportunity to experience the behaviors that once seemed so preposterous.

Lying. Over the top, ridiculous lying.
   I know why they lie, I know it is a survival skill but when you have a child who always lies it is hard not to become frustrated. Some children lie because they have brain damage, some lie because it is their way of controlling their world while other's use their lie's to bring chaos and pain into the home. I have had children lie about nonissue's and others lied about things that could have had serious repercussions if we would have taken their words at face value. Many children who have attachment issues are so good at lying that they can get you to believe things that you know aren't possible. That kind of lying messes with your mind.

Screaming and raging.
  Control, over stimulation, PTSD .... you name it, it will include screaming and raging. Not the normal yelling of words, but all out screaming that makes ones ears ring. Again, we know why but knowing why does not protect your ears, nor does it make it easier to wake your child in the morning knowing the screaming and raging will commence at the slightest real or imagined provocation.

   This one is tough. When a child intentionally ruins family time, his birthday party or a reward it is hard not to become bitter. B was a master at this and I would swing from pitying him to wanting to tell him, "Fine, if that's the way you want it, so be it." Tristan has a hard time with this one. He said, "Someone throws a fit whenever we try to do something fun, we can't even go away without someone acting out." Sadly, he is right and while we explained why this happens, knowing doesn't lessen the pain.

   Children with trauma often feel undeserving. If you give them a gift it goes against their inner belief that they are bad and unlovable, so they destroy things. Knowing this doesn't make you feel any better when you see they broke another toy, tore another book and smashed another project. One way to counteract this is to give them experiences versus things. Take your child to an event or spend a day with them doing things they enjoy. Although a word of caution, they will probably destroy something else when they get home but the plus side is they haven't destroyed your gift.

  We all have things that we find especially difficult to swallow, manipulation and triangulation are mine. Sadly, your child will know what bugs you the most and hone that behavior to a science. We have a situation right now that we are dealing with and I find it is best to let Dean decide how to handle such issues because I can't do it in a kind and sensible way. My children know our family rules but if they can get someone outside the family to invite them to do something, they will grab at the opportunity. Most times it is such simple things that the other party has no idea that they are being manipulated. 

   Many children who have endured trauma have "sticky fingers." One of our children had to have their hands in their pockets at all times when we were in the grocery store. I also found it wise to check those pockets before we left a friends home. Another child "finds" all kinds of things. If something is missing, we know who to confront. We have talked and given consequences to no avail. We are slowly learning not to let things out where the child can see them but again, understanding why doesn't make it easier.

So if you are one of the many who are wading through the mire of trauma parenting and you are feeling frustrated with yourself for reacting to your child's behavior, show yourself some grace. Knowledge is helpful but living it is another story altogether! Allow yourself to grieve and then pick up the pieces because there is sure to be a battle waiting to be fought.

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