Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care

Parenting Toolkit for Harder to Parent Kids

April 13, 2022 Creating a Family Season 16 Episode 15
Creating a Family: Talk about Adoption & Foster Care
Parenting Toolkit for Harder to Parent Kids
Show Notes Transcript

Is your child "more"...more intense, more defiant, more everything and in general, just harder to parent? We talk with Dr. Chuck Geddes, the founder of Complex Trauma Resources where he developed the Complex Care and Intervention (CCI) program to support foster and adoptive children. He is the author of Children and Complex Trauma: A Roadmap for Healing and Recovery.

In this episode, we cover:

  • What makes a child harder to parent? 
  • The importance of recognizing what we parents bring to the relationship.
  • Difference between trauma and complex trauma.
  • Tantrums, meltdowns, or hissy fits are a common part of child development, but some kids have them more than others and they are more intense. What factors contribute to some children being more susceptible to tantrums? 
    • At what age in normal child development are tantrums most common?
    • How does trauma change the dynamic with tantrums?
    • Techniques for preventing tantrums.
    • Techniques for handling tantrums.
  • Need for constant supervision
  • Lying 
  • Being disrespectful

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Please pardon the errors, this is an automatic transcription.
Unknown Speaker  0:00  
Welcome, everyone to Creating a Family talk about adoption and foster care. I'm Dawn Davenport and I am the host of this show as well as the director of the nonprofit creating a Today we're going to be talking about parenting harder to parent kids. We will be talking with Dr. Chuck Geddes. He has worked extensively in the fields of child and youth mental health and child welfare over the past 25 years. He is the founder of complex trauma resources, where he developed the complex care intervention program as a way to embed a trauma focused therapeutic perspective to support foster and adoptive children who have suffered complex trauma. Dr. Geddes provides online and in person education and training to social workers, parents, educators, as well as mental health clinicians across Canada. He has written a book that's about to be released in March titled children and complex trauma, a roadmap for healing and recovery. Welcome, Dr. Geddes, to Creating a Family.

Unknown Speaker  1:00  
Thank you very much for having me Dawn.

Unknown Speaker  1:03  
You know, I am a parent of four, and I am going to be honest, some of my children were easier than others. That is just the truth. So what makes and some of my kids were harder to parent and some were not even the easy ones. So what makes a child harder to parent? What do we even mean when we say harder to parent?

Unknown Speaker  1:23  
Yeah, what what an interesting question we've all had that experience with our children from

Unknown Speaker  1:29  
here. Yeah, some kids make us look good. And some kids don't. That's the other thing. I tell people.

Unknown Speaker  1:34  
You know, I'm sure there's, there's a degree of temperament on the sort of the child's kind of innate temperament. And then I think there's often issues with a fit for the parent for the wishes to interact with their child, and then what the child's responsibility. You know, I think when we think about children who experienced trauma to which would be the majority of kids, that the folks that are listening in would be caring for. So foster and adoptive children who come from very hard places, you know, I think the other things that I would fold into that are something around their stress response system. So some are just more sensitive, more easily kind of set off into an alarm place for the respondent. And then on the attachment side, I think there's, it's not just a way that we want to parent, but I think our own attachment style, and how that matches or doesn't match with the child's adoption style. Number two,

Unknown Speaker  2:26  
yeah, I am so glad that you brought up the role of parents here at creating a family and our audience is probably smiling, as I hear that we bring that up all the time that it's a two way street, and we bring something to the table as well, our own attachment styles, our own temperament, our own what we were hoping to get out of parenting. And you know, we all went in with ideas, we come we come to the table fully loaded with, and we add complexity to the relationship. So I'm so thankful that you, you raise that let's talk a little bit about the importance of recognizing what we bring, and how that should influence that how that can influence how we parent.

Unknown Speaker  3:09  
That's part of this, the angle on that, I think in terms of what we bring, I think that I'd like to focus on would be kind of this, the desire for connection and the desire or ability to handle a motion that we bring to the relationship. But I know there's other things too, in terms of our, you know, the degree to which we feel like the child should respect us the degree to which we kind of expect a certain amount of, you know, the child to go along with us, and allow us to allow us to lead. So I think that that can add in there as well. But I can talk about the this kind of fit of attachment style a little bit. Yeah, please. So the way that I've been there's, there's a lot of information out there about attachment and for your audiences and lots of courses around attachment. I think, you know, one of the things that I see happen with kids in our system is that they can be the child can be labeled as as if they have an attachment problem for the child sort of labeled as particularly reactive attachment. Right? So they're struggling in this relationship. And I think what you know, what we've really learned to focus on is that the child is bringing their history to this relationship, just like you said, and the adult character, the parents bringing their own history to that relationship. And that attachment doesn't, it's not something that goes up a void, it's always that dance between two people. So when we've got children who've been hurt, in their main attachment relationships early in life, that sets this template for them, not just of what to expect from new caregivers, but also what they ended up having to do to try and sort of keep that relationship going and get the protection and care that they needed. And so the kids learn to respond in a particular way based on the main caregiver that they had and their attachment style, and now they're bringing that to end their coping skills, and now they're bringing that to your relationship. One way that we have been thinking about that trying to sort of simplify these different ideas around attachment is to think that when children have had troubling attachment experiences, so insecure attachment experiences disorganizing attachment spirits as if we want to talk about clinical language around that they're that they're set up to either sort of move towards relationship, they want relationship, they're seeking it, or they're set up on the opposite, almost think of it as a continuum, where on one end of the scale, we've gotten some, and probably the majority of the kids who are seeking relationships. And then on the other end of the continuum, children who've learned that relationships are not pleasurable, not safe, not something that they want to pursue. And I still, technically we might call that on the one hand, avoidant, or dismissive kind of kids are kind of avoidant of attachment. They they're not interested, they may never learn that relationships are pleasurable, because the main caregiver that they had or didn't have, when you're young, wasn't responsive to them didn't engage in this kind of back and forth, pleasurable interactions, the queueing the, you know, playing games with the peekaboo, anything from you know, those infant kind of games up to a little bit later, where there's a responsive parent, and a parent that was interested in their emotion. And so when you don't get that, I think what kids kind of learn is that, okay, there's no, there's not pleasure in this relationship. No one's taking pleasure in me. And they're not interested in my emotions. So I'm not, I kind of think on that end of the continuum, those kind of avoidant dismissive kids, they tend to be pretty emotionally, sort of cool or flat. And they're not very responsive. So when people reach out to them, their tendency is to say, No, thanks, I'll take it or leave it, I'm not interested. And on the other end of the spectrum, we've got children who have, they've had enough positive experiences that they want relationship. But they've also learned that those are fragile and easily upset, and unpredictable. And that it can quickly turn in a way that's hurtful to them. So we've got some parents that have struggled to care for the kids. And he sort of even where their response is very, very uneven and unpredictable. So one time, you know, the child is, oh, you're my, you're my little prince, you're the center of my life. The next time the child needs something, and approaches them, they are getting hate from a parent or getting anger. And so rejection. And so those kids are really torn, because they so much want to engage. But they've also got this deep fear. So those kids are so think about on two ends of the scale, we've got some children who are saying, leave me alone, I'm not interested in relationship. And the other one is saying I needed I needed I needed, I needed almost every moment, is it really plenty kids, I'm desperate for it. But I can easily get offended and feel rejected and scare. So then there's kind of pushing, pushing back. And that's

Unknown Speaker  8:09  
hard. And that's hard from a parent's standpoint, because we may also come at it needing attachment or needing connection, or we may be the type who doesn't need it. And we're bringing all that to the table as well. And I loved how you said that it's always attachment is always I think this is maybe paraphrasing, correct me if I am, but that attachment is based on relationship. And that means both of us. So that you said that so beautifully about how a child may vote go on either extreme, and children and our children who almost all of them come from some form of trauma, experience ineffective attachment. It's not if children had a healthy, intact family, they probably wouldn't end up being in foster care. You know, that's just the reality. So all of our kids come with some damage in this area.

Unknown Speaker  9:05  
Yeah, maybe I can just give an example of how this think about how some of the implications of it. So so I'm a person who grew up in a home where I, I had pretty secure attachment. I think overall, my parents loved me, cared for me and consistent that way, but I tended to be a little bit more like my mom, which is a little more emotionally distant. So I'm a little bit more on that kind of avoidant, independent kind of in my wife is on more of the seeking relationship and not sure if that's going to be there for her. And so we're both you know, both mostly secure attachment. But you can imagine in that dynamic where when she approaches me and then I move back because it feels too much it feels like Oh, too much emotion too much being asked of me here that my mind moving away to make myself comfortable makes her feel hurt and rejected. And vice versa. If I know well, I can sort of set up a dynamic the other way to it. So we think about that as that's my attachment style coming into my marriage. Now if we think about as caregivers that we're each on, we're all on that spectrum somewhere. So if we have a child that we're caring for is some is different ends of that spectrum, or tends towards an other end of that spectrum over while we do that can be very hurtful to us. So I know that I've seen many caregivers who get into the work, they open up their hearts, in their homes to kids, because they're there, their care and they love and they want to love on some kids. And so then we bring a child in who's on that more avoidant end, where they never learned that those relationships are safe and predictable, and that, that they're valued. And so the new parent thinks I'm just going to love on this child, and they start to offer love. And what's the child do? Oh, that's too much you're trying to propose to me, I don't trust this, it feels unsafe. I don't even know how to respond to this, and the child moves away. And so some of the caregivers I talked to, they feel so hurt by that. Why every time I asked, Hey, can we do this? Hey, can we do this? And they're met with this? No, I'm not really interested, I can take it or leave it. So that missed that, yes, causes lots of challenges that in that relationship,

Unknown Speaker  11:15  
and the parents feel like I am trying so hard I am. And the problem is that, it seems to me that it is so it is so easy for us as parents to then point the finger at the child, this child has problems, this child has attachment issues, or heaven forbid, we will diagnose them with reactive attachment disorder. It's it's our tendency to say, look, I'm doing everything right here. You know, I'm the one trying I'm the one. And I'm feeling rejected. And when I feel rejected, I'm going to label it's, it's, it's complex.

Unknown Speaker  11:50  
That's, that's such a good point on and I think we we quickly go there. And we see. That's why I think this fit question is so important. Because as the adults, we need to be self aware enough to realize where we are, because it's up to us to change not to the child. So, you know, the other side of that scale is the parents who are more, they're a little more on the independent side, they're more on that sort of dismissive side a little more like me, like they're, they're okay being with people, but they're also quite happy to, when the child's needs build up, the child's emotional needs build up and they're approaching approaching, that set can send the caregiver into a bit of a panic, I still get a bit of that actually goes by ones who can come towards me with a lot of emotional needs. And I can feel a bit of panic inside. It's like, wait a minute, not that I'm not comfortable going there. So with a child who's who's not securely attached, and you give that message, oh, you're stressed, you're not responding to the emotion. What does that do, it increases the child's anxiety. And they come at you even more. So when a child is pursuing and pursuing and this more avoidant parent is stepping away. So so it's really important, I think, for us to figure that out. Because if we respond to the child in a different way, that's, that's a little step from where their comfort zone is, we can draw them into relationships. So if we have a more avoidant child, we I talked about, for instance, we don't give out offers, which can be rejected, because they'll be rejected. And then that hurts us. So we what we do is we set up situations where we have to be together, and we try and make those situations pleasurable. So we're building up an experience of the child of being with me, and it's feeling pleasurable to him or her. And we do that over and over and over. We're drawing them into relationships.

Unknown Speaker  13:35  
Can you give me an example, let's say for a different aged kids, give me an example of that. I love this concept of setting up you're setting up yourself for success setting up that both of you for success. So give me an example of like a five year old and a 10 year old and a 15 or 16 year or something like that.

Unknown Speaker  13:53  
Yeah, it's probably obviously a little easier with the younger ones, because we can control the things around them a little bit.

Unknown Speaker  13:57  
Okay, I tell you what, I'll do the teen one. I'm just soon off of parenting t. So you start with the younger ones, and I'll do the 10 month.

Unknown Speaker  14:06  
Okay, so let's say we're talking about that kind of avoidant. And so we're trying to draw a child into relationship. So with the, you know, it might be as simple as, oh, well, we, we need to go and do this thing. And you need to come with me because there's no one to watch you. While we're together. We're going to put some music on in the car that you get to choose that you like, we're going to stop for an ice cream on the way home. And when we stopped to the ice cream, we're going to sit and be kind of face to face while we're enjoying this ice cream together. We're building up this something that's pleasurable kind of pairing into the way with being with someone. I have some really good friends that adopted a girl and she was about 12 at the time, and she was very rejecting of their efforts to connect with her. So just extremely rejecting. And from her history, we thought she'd probably hadn't had many of these experiences a pleasurable relationship with an adult who was really attending to her. And so we actually encourage the adoptive mother just to, to brush her hair at night. And to take this from a kind of quick five minutes that we're going to kind of brush your hair get right to say, can we make that 15 minutes, 20 minutes, where you because it was deeply pleasurable to the girl, she really enjoyed that physical sensation. And then we had them sitting looking at a mirror while they're doing this, and adopt him, I'm speaking into her ear, and they're making eye contact in the mirror. So we're building that physical pleasure pairing it in this experience with the voice and with someone with the face, because we're really starting from scratch to the factor.

Unknown Speaker  15:40  
That's beautiful. Alright, my teen example I have two. One is the kid plays some video game. And you say, can you show me how can you teach me this game and you as a parent, enter the game with them. And it may be that's controversial in the way because some people believe that you can't really interact through games, but I don't believe that I think that you can, if even if during the game itself, you're not interacting. But then afterwards, you can say, Yeah, I got it. I got creamed on that on that race, but you know, or whatever. And so it gives you something, a connection with that child in something that they already are into. Another example I heard this many years ago from someone, it was a dad who was not connecting at all to his teen daughter, who had been adopted from foster care, he really thought she didn't have the ability to and of course, was labeling or whatever. And the only according to him, the only thing she liked to do was watch soap operas. So he started decided he decided that he would watch the soap opera with it. And he thought he would hate every second of it. He thought they were stupid. He thought they were a waste of time. They were brain rot, whatever. But as he sat there every day, because he had committed to doing that, he actually started getting into to the, into the the characters. And it gave me and his daughter would talk about it at dinner. And one night he had come home late. And she had I don't know, this is back when I guess they were recording the show or whatever. No, I think it was coming on or whatever. Anyway, and he walked up and she met him at the door screaming Come on, dad is getting ready to start, you know, and he and he was giving him some of the they've already done this. And he said this and whatever. And he said at that moment, he realized that she wasn't having as much problem. He's that's a thought attaching that that they had bonded over something that he thought he would hate. So those would be some examples, perhaps with the with the teens or the older kiddos.

Unknown Speaker  17:41  
Going, I wonder if I can just writing example, on the other end, but a situation where we've got a child who's very clean. And for some parents, well, for any parents, that can be an awful lot right there. Oh, yeah, good point all the time and come to you for attention. At the time, you're least able to give it Yeah, you're on a phone call someone's at the door, you're, you're preoccupied and they're pulling on your arm. And you know asking, asking, and you end up trying to push them away. And it just increases their anxiety. Yeah, I feel very anxious and what attachment and I need it when I need it. And so one of the things that we just a very simple thing that we think about on that and when you've got it, clingy child is the idea of kind of putting coins in the meter. So what we try and do is we want to give full attention to that child for a short period of time, that's putting coins in the meter. So this isn't distracted attention. This is I'm turning I'm facing you, you get my full, you know, full wattage attention, I'd give you five minutes. And that's coins in the meter, and the corner, and then and then you can step away for a minute. And then a child that the media keeps ticking, right sometimes right starting to run out, and their attachment need is going to be high again. So what we're trying to coach our parents to do, is to come back with more tension before child's alarm goes off. Because once their alarm goes off, now you're in this pattern where they're approaching, you're not ready and yeah. So can we get there first. And what we find is that the kids ability to be on their own and not have the attention goes up. That's when you start to leave them for five minutes, then 10 minutes and 20 minutes, then they're taking a kind of full half hour on their own and not being as demanding when we do that.

Unknown Speaker  19:22  
Oh, I'm so glad you stopped and use the example the other way around, have a clean HR because you're right. It's equally as difficult so often with for parents, I speak from experience, and they use the term complex trauma and that begs the question of how does trauma differ from complex trauma?

Unknown Speaker  19:42  
Yeah, I think this is such an important thing for for those of us carrying kids from our, you know, our child welfare, protect child protection system. So complex traumas we all understand the idea of trauma and I think we tend to think of sort of single events. So there was this time when this child was abused in this way. And density of complex trauma is a little different, because it's looking at the accumulation of overwhelming stress and particular events over time in a child's life. When we look at the histories of kids in our child welfare system, many of them experience multiple types of trauma at multiple times in their life. So even if this isn't like one event where they you know, they didn't get their arm broken, or they didn't like it wasn't that direct, but they've been yelled at, I've been living in a situation with domestic violence, they've been ridiculed. They've treated all kinds of poor ways, that that that's kind of a toxic stress that builds up. And when that's happening in the first years of life up to age five or six, that's when the brain is developing. That's when the child is trying to learn about the world, where they're, what does this mean? What does this mean? What's that thing? How do I respond to this, they're, their whole pathway for their brain growth and nervous system is all being laid in those first five or six years, including during pregnancy. So when there's this kind of stress and trauma in those initial five or six years, it interferes with development, and interferes in pretty consistent ways. We actually have, we talked about seven different developmental domains that get affected by this. And we use an acronym for it. And it goes, no one eats apples in BC, or British Columbia. But the basically it's it's looking at our neurological system or reaction to stress, our emotions, our attachment and relationships, our identities, sense of identity and belonging in the world, our ability to manage behavior and our thinking abilities, so cognitive language and memory. So all of those different areas of development gets slowed down and delayed, when we have this when we're, our brains are trying to learn all that, under all this stress. One of the factors is that that stress causes our body to release cortisol, cortisol is toxic to brain growth. So we ended up with this really delayed development often in many of these different ways. For the kids that were caring for it. If we don't recognize that, then we can end up thinking the child is willful or manipulative, or they're unmotivated. We hear all lots of different labels or can't attach, as you mentioned earlier, rather than recognizing all of this, this whole pattern of delayed development, because of that effects of trauma or stress, that's complex trauma, or complex developmental trauma would be the other term people might have heard.

Unknown Speaker  22:30  
Yes, excellent. Okay. And that makes very good sense. And I was thankful that you brought up including pregnancy, so many of our children, particularly from the foster care system, but also through international adoption, as well as some percentage of domestic infant adoptions. Our kids have been, number one, it was a stressful pregnancy. So to begin with, but also, prenatal substance abuse, or prenatal exposure from alcohol or drugs is not uncommon. In fact, in the foster care system, it is quite common. And that also affects the developmental range realms that you that you've talked about, perhaps in more in different ways, depending on the substance. But yeah, pregnancy is included as well. Have you heard our exciting news, we now through the generous support of the DACA big family foundation can offer you 12, free online courses, on the creating a online Parent Training Center, you can access these courses at Bitly slash JBf. Support, there are 12 of them, they are one hour, you will receive a certificate of completion if you need that. And you might for continuing it if you're a foster parent. So hop over to Bitly slash JBf support that's bi T dot L y slash JPS support to access the 12 free online courses. So we're talking about a a toolkit for harder to parent kids. So let me give you some of the behaviors that we hear from our community that that make it harder for them to parent. And the first one is certainly a common one. tantrums, meltdowns, hissy fits, you name it, regardless of the name, if their needs, let's be honest, can be a common part of all child development. But some kids and our kids are foster adoptive and kinship kids seem to have more than others. And they also seem to be more intense. So let's start by saying At what age is it normal in child development for tantrums to occur, so that I do sometimes think that we lose sight of normal child development as well. So and tantrums are certainly a part of that.

Unknown Speaker  24:52  
Yeah, so everyone's familiar with the terrible twos kind of idea. So I think from the end of Age two to five would be pretty Typical for kids to have, at some point be having these kinds of, let's call it a meltdown or tantrum they want their way. Yeah. And so when. But I think with the children that you're talking about that, well, a couple of things, they often are much bigger, and they last a lot longer that child cannot self regulate. Yes, kind of baseline.

Unknown Speaker  25:20  
They look different. They just did the tantrum looks different. I mean, the child with a tantrum, looks and feels difference. And one parent said, All I can say is, his behavior is more, the tantrum is more, it's just more in every way. And I thought that's a good way to put it.

Unknown Speaker  25:38  
And he's lost his mind.

Unknown Speaker  25:40  
Yes, the parent as well as the child, right? Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  25:47  
You know, I think that so for sure, there there is, you know, children will tantrum and with good parenting where there's a good combination of love and limits, then kids come out of that, they realize that, so the part of that tantrum that is trying to get my way begins to ease up because they're learning that it doesn't, they don't get their way. And then that tantrum, you know, they'll get over it, and they can move on. And so good enough, parenting helps us to do that. One of the, I think one of the things about kids who've experienced this public key thing, actually, kids have experienced all of this stress early in their lives, and often had parents that were super inconsistent around how they responded when kids tantrums. So there's a sort of behavioral side of it, which says that I've learned some of the kids have learned when they have to improv and get vague and get scary, and call you names, that they're gonna get their way. And so we've got that in the background that we have, sometimes we're fighting against, learn the experience of the child, and it becomes a little bit like, you know, going and playing the slot machine, they've learned that if I do this often enough, I'm gonna get what I want in that particular situation. So we may be fighting against some of that history. But I think what we found is that the main thing we're fighting against actually, is the child's nervous system. And that this stress response, that that sort of fight or flight response, that because they lived with so much stress and trauma and been hurt, so often, their brains are actually primed to move to that fight or flight type. And in fact, they make a lot too little organs in the brain. That's like your threat detector in the brain. Bessel Vander Kolk, who is a international expert around trauma, he talks about that, that amygdala as being like a, like your firearm in your brain. And I think for so many of the kids that we care for, that fire alarm is set to such a sensitive degrees. So they've learned that they have to always be watching, for some kind of danger, I might get yelled at, I might get hit, I might not have food on the table, they're there, whatever that combination of things is, and that's not conscious. So it may be for the older kids. But for many of our kids, that's an unconscious, it's an immediate neurological physiological response to cues that they're picking up that they might not even be consciously aware of. So your eyebrow just went up inflection of your voice changed, there was a sound outside, and all of that all of those things are kind of pushing them up into this hyper alert, hyper aroused plays. Out of that we get often get these huge reactions that seem to come to us as parents and caregivers and teachers. You know, it seems like where did that come from? They were doing. And now all of a sudden, they completely lost their mind. And they started going from zero to 60. And

Unknown Speaker  28:37  
that's what we hear they go from zero to 60. And nothing flat. Exactly.

Unknown Speaker  28:41  
Yeah. So one of the things that we are that we work with is with our caregivers, and the idea of a stress staircase. So if you can imagine that you have that staircase, with sort of 10 steps on it. And down at the bottom of that staircase, that's the kind of greens on the columns on the first couple of steps that were repossessed in place. You know, we're all happy there. It's a campsite where we're in control, and we're safe. And we're, we can be creative, there's lots of good stuff that comes out of that, as we go up, it begins to come a little bit more yellow, all of a sudden we into okay, this is I got a little more energy, that can be good. But I'm also starting to feel a little bit on edge a little bit a little bit too much for me. And some of these kind of middle steps in this kind of yellow zone, I'm starting to feel a bit more pressure that can be things like it's kind of loud in here. It's pretty bright. My body's reacting to the sensory signals. My body might be wrapped into somebody new there or there's other kids around what what do they think of me? How are they, you know, how are they are they including me? Are they rejecting me? Are they making fun of me, because all of a sudden, I'm starting to feel more stress. If we go up a little higher now where to put an orange range where we've got now they're vigilant. Now they're actually scanning the environment all the time. So in class, they're supposed to be listening to the teacher and doing the work in front of them, but they're aware every kid within the 14 foot radius they're aware of this sounds in the hallways, some cardboard just shut out there and part of their brains go into that, because it's scanning for threat all the time. And so now they're getting pretty high up on that stressor, it doesn't take much to flip over that edge, all of a sudden, I've now flooded, it's too much, I can't manage all of this. I don't even know consciously necessarily what it is. But this last little frustration tipped me over the last little worried this last little, somebody laughed at me, tipped me over the edge. And now I'm in a full blown panic, which looks like fight or flight or even freeze response. So really, one of the things that we talked about with our groupings is not zero to 60, these kids are probably running 45 all the time, all the time. So when I think about the heart, you know, the Casey fits the tantrums, the meltdowns, you know so much of it, I think is because we haven't recognized how stressed the child is all the time. It's a lot of our efforts come into, how do we decrease the stress and our child will look at everything from I kind of talked about doing this outside in bottom up and top down. So we think about how do we kind of want to help them to reset their baseline on that their case down a couple of notches. So for instance, think about outside in, we're looking at what's going on from the child during the week, what can we take away that stressful for them, maybe they've got too many appointments going on, and they're just so busy, they never have a downtime, because we're sending out to all these specialists, yes, maybe they're introduced to well can be different situations, it could be visits with parents, it could be a parent that's on the phone to them every two days. And that's a stressful thing. And so then we've got things in their daily life, it's keeping them sort of too high up that stress staircase. So we try and remove some of those, we will look about what we can do for kind of bottom up, we're trying to see if we can use calming sensory activities on a proactive basis, to help that child to come down to sort of reset to a calmer place, and then go back into whatever they're doing. And so we're looking to do that on a proactive kind of preventative basis, over and over and over during the day. And then lastly we're doing sort of top down is to see if we can teach them some self calming strategies to write. So we're sort of come at that from three ways. But we find that when we decrease the stress, we often don't have the meltdowns, they don't last as long the child can think before reacting, they can receive resupport from you before reacting.

Unknown Speaker  32:32  
We and that fits with one of the things we often suggest is simplify your life and and and create routine, make yourself and the child's life predictable. So they aren't always trying to figure it out. It's only one technique, but that is a way to I can't move that's a top down or inside out. But that was one of them. That was one way to just try to and then. And then I love the concept of teach teaching self regulation. You know, it is a skill that can be taught. And I think we sometimes think that people just children just pick it up automatically. But I suspect that's because when children have been raised in a functioning family, that they do pick it up because it is happening regularly. But children who have not may have to be actively taught. And that I think is a it's it's a beautiful idea co regulation being so effective.

Unknown Speaker  33:29  
I love the idea with that. When we're teaching kids, that we're modeling it. We're we're actively using those skills that we want them to use. And we're asking for their help. So I've got lots of parents where or staffed and like group home kind of situations. And we're saying, Okay, we want you modeling this. So we want you to say, Well, I'm feeling kind of stressed, I can feel my breath is a little bit shallow and my heart's beating really fast. I think my phrases even kind of red. What do you think I should do about that? And the kids will say, Oh, yeah, you're right, you look like you're getting in the red zone, you need to calm down and say, How can help me and the kids will say, Okay, we think what you need to do is to let's go for a walk around the house, let's lay down on the floor and do some deep breaths and say, Oh, what a good idea. Well, you do that with me. And all of a sudden the child is helping to teach and helping, you know, it's all that fun relational building way to do that.

Unknown Speaker  34:24  
And quite frankly, you benefit from it as the words because you are you are actually self regulating when you do this because you're using the techniques on yourself, even though you're doing it in the guise of teaching. Well, let's say though that I love the idea of preventing that really should be our first thing that we do is think in terms of how can we prevent the situations that put this child when they reach the 10th step of the ladder? How do we do all of that it from a prevention standpoint, but let's say that our either we weren't up to it, we didn't catch it in time, whatever reason, the child is in a major tantrum. What do we do then?

Unknown Speaker  35:09  
Yeah, so I think So Bruce Perry in the Child Trauma Academy, they came up with sort of a description of this, I really like, just in terms of an order. And that we're our job is to regulate, relate, and reason in that order. And so we want to, so our first job is to help the child to regulate that various kind of physiological arousal in that time. So that's take the child aside, come down to their level and make it safe, we're taking them away from the stress, we're trying to just sort of help them to get to a place where they can regulate, and we use our relationship to do that. So it's not quite sequential, because your your calming presence will help the child to calm down. And a big part and much, much later is when we start to reason with them and be rational and explain and all of that, but our our job is to really regulate first intent to use our relationship to do that. And we can do that just with our posture, we can do that by coming alongside them, taking them out of a stressful place, just sitting with them. But the other thing that's so so important, I think, is around empathy, and validating the child's feelings. So at that point, they're, they're, you know, they're now dealing with big feelings in charge, they're melting down, they're saying and doing terrible things. And if we get caught up and trying to serve, stop that, or control that, we're coming in at the wrong level. So I really feel like we need to come in at that place of wow, I can see you're really upset. Now, that was really upsetting to you. Man, that's a lot. Why don't we sit down and you can tell me about it like we're trying to. So what we're trying to do is to give them validation that we see them, we see the emotion gives them validation for it, and hopefully then use empathic statements about their feelings. So the the challenge is, especially as they get older, and they get a bigger vocabulary, and they get is that they're talking a blue Street. And they're demanding things. And they seem to want a solution to the problem. And what we can get caught in is this idea that we have to solve that problem, answer the question, right? But I want my I want the remote, I want to be able to do this. And you've said no, and no, they haven't. But if we just keep reinforcing that. But the rule is, you know, you can't do this until later. And maybe get into that I feel like that that kind of Charlie Brown moment when what the kids hearing in law was very cogent kind of explanation, but they can't even take it in until we deal with the emotion. So that so if you think about the emotions, almost like this pressure cooker that's building up and the emotion spilling out. And now our big behaviors are spilling out. And what we want to do is to validate the emotion, give empathy, and often what that does is let some of the air out of that sort of everything can sort of slow down and calm down. And then are other strategies to distract them to take them to a quieter place to use a calm voice, all of that starts to work, because the emotion of validation will help them get there. Okay, that makes good sense.

Unknown Speaker  38:22  
A pause here for just a moment to tell you that when you follow our subscribe to the creating a family talk, fourth podcast, you also gain access to our extensive archives of topics, talking about challenging behaviors and harder to parent kids. We have been doing this podcast for over 14 years. And we have interviewed many, many of the leading experts on this topic. And as well as other matters, too. So you will have plenty to choose from in our archive. So please get out there and subscribe or follow. All right, so we asked people in our community, what type of behaviors were very hard for them, and making these children harder to parent. So another behavior is the need for constant supervision. That child gets into everything. You can't be left alone for a moment, the parent feels like they have no life because they basically have to have eyes on the child every single second of every single day. So obviously, it's probably not that bad. But that's the feeling that parents, you know, come away with thoughts on that using the approach that viewing it from a trauma lens. What are some ways to understand that behavior? And then ways to cope with it?

Unknown Speaker  39:38  
Yeah, what it what a challenging thing, and I know many of your caregivers have more than one child. Yes. Yeah, exactly. It's my turn my back on that one. There's a problem. Mm hmm. And this one is about Yeah, it can be so exhausting. And you know, I guess overall, I don't want to be simplistic about this, but I feel like there are certain battles that we need to win and we have to do ended on the front end, and it will pay off for us down the road. So are certain things that we need to really address and do well with? And if we do, it'll pay off for us. So, you know, one of the things around, you know, the child needing constant supervision is to kind of, there's different things that could be driving. And I think that's one of the reasons it's so important to kind of understand these developmental lags that the kids have because of trauma, because we want to understand what is it that's driving that a bad time? Is it more than just kind of the things that look like ADHD in terms of impulsiveness? Is it more that they're getting into mischief and doing things that would hurt me? Who knows? There's different kinds of ways to approach it. But I think that, you know, what, I guess what I was imagining, first, in response to your question was that these are opportunities for time in. These are, so what this is showing me with so talking to your little, little girl here, little Sally who's seven, what this is showing me is you need to be with mom, you need to be with that you're not able to manage it on your own right now. And so instead of like we, I think we can get into this thing where we don't know what the phrase would be, it's almost like being a cop. But we're kind of want you know, we're watching and we're ready to jump in when a problem happens. And that some of this, I think, are opportunities to bring the child close and say, You looks like you need to be with me right now. And that's that, that seems the exact opposite. Probably less to do at the moment. You know, it's true, you're feeling it, that's an extra demand. And but I think that's the kind of thing that can really pay off actually. So then we bring them in closer we invest that, as hard as that is right now, that if I knew that in two months, I wouldn't have to follow them around and be watching all the time, it might be worth that to bring them close to have that time and then set them up in a situation where they've got enough to do to not be like sort of be happy, happy doing some positive things. And then then I check back in with them. And I bring them close again, before they get into that difficult things. I also was kind of thinking about that just trust, and how, you know, it's an opportunity for kids, kids want to do well, if they can. And I think when we set it up in a positive way that we're learning to trust each other and learning to trust you. And so then, you know, there are things that kids do that kind of hurt that trust or things that build that trust. So when bring them close, we're talking about as they're trusting. So now I'm going to leave you for 10 minutes here, and I trust you to stick with these things and not get into this other thing. And then we come back before they got into the other thing and we reward that and we praise that and then that sort of trend over time, might be another way to kind of purchase.

Unknown Speaker  42:46  
And perhaps a I liked that very much. And the other thing might be to simplify the environment, if they're getting into taking all the books off the bookshelf, well then maybe take the books off the bookshelf, you know, it could be that, that at this stage of this child's life, they don't need to have, they need to have fewer toys I've heard if I leave them in their playroom, they take all the toys off the closet, and they just throw every you know, every single thing is and then we have to go through the whole thing of of having to pick up all the toys, and then they don't want to do that blah, blah, blah, well, maybe the child only needs two toys. Maybe that's what they need right now just two toys, and you know, three toys, whatever, it seems reasonable. And then that's all they have. So that it's not punishment by any means. It's simply saying that, so they're going to get into it. I know that. So I'm going to be frustrated, if I take 10 minutes picking it up, I won't be frustrated, if I only take two minutes picking it up, I've only got two toys and get it all picked up in two minutes. So in other words, preventing the problem sometimes by anticipating if you know your child has zero impulse control, don't put them in a situation where they're going to have to control their impulses.

Unknown Speaker  43:55  
Yeah, so I really like that. I think, you know, some of the some of the challenge, I think, is that we don't expect more out of the kids than they're capable. Yeah. So what this child who keeps pulling down all their toys is showing you is they're not capable, yes, of managing that situation. There's too much there for them to cope with. And I think when we we looked at kids, when we think about this developmental trauma and how it's created developmental lags, that our kids are often so much younger, emotionally and in their capability, their functional abilities than their chronological age. So we sometimes get into trouble as as caregivers as the adults around them, because we look at this 10 year old and we think they're not acting like the Gen

Unknown Speaker  44:34  
X Gen ought to be able to do this

Unknown Speaker  44:37  
ought to be able to get and actually if we were to do this kind of developmental assessment, we know what they're actually much more like a preschool or kindergarten Yes. And so if we reduce the expectations down, if we help can help the caregivers to see that differently and to reduce their expectations. Then we don't have that degree of frustration. Then we take those proactive steps and then we're not setting the piled up over and over and over to fail, because our expectations are too high. And and in doing that, some people worry that, oh, but you're making it, you know, you're making it too easy.

Unknown Speaker  45:09  
They'll never grow up, you know, they're never gonna learn. Yeah.

Unknown Speaker  45:12  
And actually, I think the exact opposite is true. So I think about, I kind of use the idea of taking two steps back in order to take three steps forward, that when our expectations are too high, the child is failing over and over and over, they're not growing, they're too stressed, they're failing, they're having all the negative experiences. So we need to set the expectations low enough that they can start to make it and then we build from there. Pretty soon, they're probably we passed where we the initial sort of expectation.

Unknown Speaker  45:37  
Yeah. And we as parents, and I think particularly those of us who've adopted well versed to say, any foster or any adopted child, setting realistic expectations is so, so important, because we do come in with expectations. Of course we do. And, sadly, sometimes, oftentimes, they are not realistic. Another one, this will not surprise you another behavior. And I will admit to this one having been a hard one for me, and that is lying. There are many reasons why that is a hard one for parents. One is that they feel like they can't trust the child to they worry about the future, you know, if he's lying, you know, he's gonna, you know, be under the jail, not just in the jail, blah, blah, blah. So I do think, plus, it's it there is a feeling of trust within families, and lying feels like it violates So for all these reasons. Lying. It's a hard one. So thoughts on that and how it, how it relates to trauma and to adoptive Foster and kinship, kiddos.

Unknown Speaker  46:38  
Yeah, what a big one. And we certainly hear a lot of distress from parents around this. And that, again, that's that some expectation, because it's a it's an important value, right? So trust is an important value, point value. And that's what helps us to function as a family. And so when we when that broken, that can feel like such a piercing kind of injury.

Unknown Speaker  46:58  
Yeah, and I and let me throw out that the other thing that frustrated me is that the logical consequence is so far down the line, I mean, one logical consequences that you're not trusted, you know, that people will not trust you. Well, that's that's a pretty nebulous, so there isn't the logical consequence of just allowing nature to take care of it. That never felt very satisfying. So I throw that out there as well. Now, Sorry, go on.

Unknown Speaker  47:25  
Yeah, so we're afraid of these things happening down, that means that these things might happen down on the future, that we that are kind of nebulous, and we can't control and there isn't really a natural consequence for it later, either. Really? Yeah,

Unknown Speaker  47:37  
really, because they could get away with it, you know, dadgummit. So that's not a good consequence.

Unknown Speaker  47:41  
Yeah. You know, I again, I do think that that idea of expectations is really important. So that, so this child is showing us that at the moment, they are not trustworthy, they can't not lie, I think when we understand more about their backgrounds, and how often this is a survival mechanism, you know, often this is I think lying can come from different things. So it can come from a sense deep sense of shame. Kids with the histories, the kids in your, your people are caring for. They come from really challenging situations where they've been hurt, where they've had losses where they've been neglected. And they've internalized a deep sense of shame. There's something wrong with me, a gut feeling, it's not even irrational, the gut feeling, there's something wrong with me, I'm unlovable, I've got one girl who just told us I'm a monster, like, that's what. So this deep feeling about themselves a sense of shame that they're carrying, that they try and bury, but it's a deep sense of shame. And sometimes that's what when they get caught in something, and they're lying about it, and they will not accept responsibility for it at all, which drives us crazy. Sometimes that's because the covering up that such a deep sense of shame. But I think if we understand a little bit more that we understand, oh, okay, this is where this is coming from, then it gives us a little more compassion, and a little more ability to not be as reactive about I think it's probably a little bit similar to the the idea of the child who gets into things in tears, or in Parkinson's, I turned my back, but it's that sort of same thing, same idea of trust there. Right. And that, you know, this is I really liked the idea from Daniel Hughes, psychologist, Daniel, his talks about within the context of the patch when he's talking about, you haven't had a chance to learn this yet. So we're going to help you we have to set up situations to help you learn. So you haven't learned yet that we don't lie. You haven't learned yet that we tell the truth, even if it's hard. And we sort of walk the kids through the situations with that. Yeah, some language that's like that, that's kind of some limits, and then it still responds. Okay. So you lied about this. And that means that you know, I'm not going to trust you in this situation. We keep that all pretty short. I always like because of the shame sponsz, I always really think that we will ever, when we need to use a natural consequence, the kind of negative consequences something, we need to keep it short. And we need to keep it in a timeframe that the child developmentally understands. So I really like the idea of short and sweet and sharp consequences that are over with, and then we move back move back into positive relationship. So we think about lying or stealing would be another one that sort of fits along with this, that there, there's going to need to be a reaction sometimes, but we keep it short and sweet. And we rebuild the relationship, kind of repair the relationship. And we initiate that don't wait for the child to apologize, because we need to kind of help them to move forward and move past that and not get caught in a shame, which will just lead to more of the behavior.

Unknown Speaker  50:43  
And I think that we parents are sometimes guilty of asking what we already know, don't give the child the opportunity to lie. You know, if if you know that they haven't done their homework, don't ask if they've done their homework and just say, let's sit down and do your homework, or show me your homework, or whatever. And I've used this before, but I also have seen children who are it's not it's yes, it's not the truth. But in fact, what they're really doing is buying time because their processing is a little slower. And they're and we're expecting something a response immediately. So the first response is, is to tell an untruth. But what they're really doing is processing. And for a child like that sometimes saying I don't want you to answer now, I'm going to give you a couple of minutes or you know, I don't want you to answer now. But I need to know this and I'm going to come back and we'll talk about it to give them time to process that may not be every child situation. But I do think that that some kids and I had one that needed more processing time and I realized that that was part of the reason that it wasn't less, less a lie. It was more of a stopgap measure. deer caught in the headlights kind of over it. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. Yes.

Unknown Speaker  52:00  
I was just thinking about this with the Christmas season coming up. We're talking about Christmas movies. And one of our family favorites is always a Christmas story with the little boy Ralphie. And there's one scene where he's in this classroom and the teacher is basically asking them to confess and won't it you'll feel much better if you don't know someone confesses, and his dialogue is we all knew that he's not punished, like kids don't accept our reasoning.

Unknown Speaker  52:26  
Because it's not logical reasoning. Come on. There's a reason there aren't accepting it. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you to hopscotch adoptions for their continued support of this show, as well as all the resources that we've created creating a hopscotch is a hay accredited international adoption agency, placing children from Armenia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, gotta Guiana, Morocco, Pakistan, Serbia and Ukraine. They specialize in the placement of children with Down syndrome as well as kids with other special needs. They are also your go to source for kinship, international kinship adoptions. And they can place kids throughout the United States, and they offer home study services and post adoption services to residents of North Carolina and New York. Thanks, hopscotch. So the last one, we do hear that what we've heard many but but I've narrowed them down. But the last one I wanted to get your opinion on is showing respect or conversely being disrespectful, the child is disrespectful, they are talking back to me, they are using foul language, they are disobeying the rules, whatever they are disrespecting me. And that also is interesting to think about from the parents standpoint, some of us may come into it with a higher need for respect. Anyway. So that's something I'll throw out that I think is we as parents need to think through that. Whereas our need for the obvious outward manifestations of respect come from. But anyway, nonetheless, being disrespectful is something that is we do want our children to be able to show respect. So thoughts on that?

Unknown Speaker  54:09  
What a finite ideal, we want to get there. You know, children come from, from backgrounds, where they haven't learned those things. They haven't seen those things between the adults that that are around them, often. And so it's so it's all very new class, they're ready to hurt you at times, right soon, because they, they're trying to push you away, and you're trying to hurt you and trying to get your go. With all of these things. I think, you know, one of the first agent is earlier on one of the first things is that, you know, as a child's escalating, we're escalating internally often, right? So I think every one of these I've got a friend who says, you know, no matter what the child's behavior is like she's got a PowerPoint with a whole list of these different behaviors kind of like you're asking me and her first thing with everyone is take a deep breath. Okay, you need to regulate yourself before you So I would think I would sort of circle back around to sort of what I was mentioning before is that let's use preventive strategies around the their overall regulation. Let's use, let's be using empathy and validation for their feelings and not get caught up in that particular issue when we do that. So when we do those two things, we're both we're helping them with regulation. And we're offering relationship when we're doing those two things together, we find all these behaviors start to go down. So rather than thinking I have to solve this respect issue, right now, that that's off, that's you're going head on against a problem that will cause more problems. So your head on approach to that is actually going to cause more difficulties. So I would say we need to step out of that power struggle, because that power struggle is unsafe for both of us. And then the kids feel unsafe. And so they're going to end they may just resist the power sort of confrontation. So we get, what's that saying about Cashmore? There was something

Unknown Speaker  56:02  
we always said flies, but catch more flies with bears too, but I don't really think you're Canadian, you have a different relationship with bears.

Unknown Speaker  56:15  
There you go. Yeah. And then but yeah, find a way to avoid the power struggle to sidestep the power struggle, don't give it up, we're gonna win this battle in a different way we are, we are wiser or safe or wise, we have different ways that we can approach this and will win the battle in the long run, rather than feeling like we have to win it in that moment.

Unknown Speaker  56:35  
Parenting is a marathon, not a sprint. And what there's the unifying theme that I'm hearing from all your approaches, is, for me, your approach to all the situations we've thrown at you is is regulation and relationship. And there was another first

Unknown Speaker  56:53  
those are first Yeah, so the the regulate our thinking about how do I help the child to regulate? How do I use my relationship to do that, and much, much, much later. That's when we get into the reasoning with them. Explain wait till they're calm, and they're probably not calm for a long time after you think they're going to reasoning and talking you through at a place when their time when they're calm. To talk it through for the next time. I wonder how we might handle this differently next time? Together?

Unknown Speaker  57:19  
Yes, and when long after the event, so the regulation and relationship are in the moment prevention is its number one for most things, if you can prevent it from happening in the midst of the heat of the moment, regulation and relationship and then after everyone has calmed down the reasoning part. Excellent. Thank you so much, Dr. Chuck Geddes for being with us today. I know everyone wants to know how to get more information. And the website for the complex trauma resources is complex ca for Canada complex And to get the book children in complex trauma, a roadmap for healing and recovery. I am sure it will be available on Amazon but we want to encourage you to go to your independent bookseller and ask them to order it as well. Thank you so much. Dr. Chuck Geddes. This has been terrific

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