Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Little Miss Hanky Cranky!

Life is a game of highs and lows in the Katie household at the moment.  Katie is the girl with a curl!  Katie picked up a bug from school recently so has been a bit under the weather.  She woke up very early a few days and she seems quite tired as a result of that and the school day and with that has come Little Miss Hanky Cranky (at least I hope that's all it is)!

Cranky is a bit of an understatement really.  In all honesty I'm having to dig in deep with some of her behaviour.  Sometimes she is sweetness and light and a real joy to be around (mostly in the mornings after a good sleep) but we've had a return of the hitting and spitting when she's angry or isn't getting her own way.  She seems to quickly lose all perspective and shouts/screams angrily at the top of her voice with her hands on her hips and slams doors.  She then usually manages to bump herself in the process of this which makes her even more incensed. She hurls insults with the passion and power of a javelin thrower.  I'm sure you get the picture.  Time-out on her stool isn't being overly effective because she is doing everything she can to get attention whilst she's on there.  Interestingly (and thankfully) she is fine at school so this behaviour is mostly limited to when she's at home.

Time to review how we manage this......

After having a little think and a chat with some friends, both adoptive and birth parents, I am doing the following:

  1. When Katie kicks off I take her up to her bedroom to calm down and I walk away.  The door remains open and she can come down whenever she is calm again.  There is no time specification on this and I am repeating this until she calms down and modifies her behaviour.  Cuddles and kisses are waiting for as soon as she is calm.
  2.  Hitting and spitting has a consequence.  Tonight the consequence was that she wasn't allowed to watch a programme on the laptop at tea-time; the second consequence, when the offence was repeated, was that she lost her bedtime stories (this was after being repeatedly spat at and slapped).  I explained to her that I felt she was behaving unacceptably because she was so tired and clearly needed to go to bed. So she was in bed for 6:15pm.
  3. I am calm throughout all of this.  Other than a stated consequence I am not engaging with her behaviour.
  4. I'm picking my battles and trying to ignore behaviour as much as possible.
So far this technique (for want of a better word) is working quite well.  I was concerned about leaving her in her bedroom because I know it's been debated amongst adopters but I feel that Katie needs to be apart from me to actually calm herself down and see that I will not tolerate this behaviour.  The timeout spot isn't working anymore for this particular behaviour.  I will still use the spot for general things but aggressive outbursts will now be dealt with in the new way.  I felt calmer for removing her totally from the situation and, so far, the result has been favourable (although I hate hearing her cry or feel angry).  I am ensuring I am clear that the time in her bedroom is to calm down and that she can come down whenever she wants to, as long as she has calmed down and is ready to behave nicely.

I'll see what happens next. I'm hoping this is just a phase and is just old fashioned tiredness!  She has an INSET day on Friday so hopefully an extra day off school might be just what the Doctor (and the Mummy) ordered......






17 comments:

  1. I will be coming to you for parenting advice if we ever get an adopted child :-)

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    1. PMSL - Can't you tell I'm making this up as I go along and hoping for the best? LOL x

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  2. I have two adopted girls (only since last september) but for youngest I use exactly the same bedroom technique and it works. I wouldn't use it with her sister who has more emotional issues and was used to being left at birth parents (so wouldn't work) but for youngest (who was never at birth parents) it does. She needs the time away from attention to calm herself down as she does.

    Love your other techniques, every day I try calmness - but fail quite a lot! Just keep thinking I will get there one day. xxx

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    1. Hi Anon and thanks for replying. I'm glad to hear that another adopter is using the same method successfully and with the same thought behind it that I've given.

      As for calmness? Well that's a work in progress. I think the time-out helps me as much as it helps her LOL That and the yoga that I'm just off to do. xx

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  3. I am glad to read this. For the past few days our adopted daughter has protested when it's nap time (not bedtime though). She's very tired, and has been under the weather, so needs to sleep. On previous occassions we've let her forgo the nap for some cuddles, but this week she just needs sleep! So we have put her down with a cuddle, kiss and "i'll see you after your nap" and then comes the shouting from her. It has felt hard to do, but we know that it's "shouting" not crying. She has calmed herself down after about 3-5 minutes and gone to sleep. I do worry as a adoptive parent about leaving her to be upset, but my gut says it's not upset, just overtiredness and protesting, it actually gets worse if one of us goes in to cuddle her. Even the offer of naptime in bed with Mummy didn't help. The slate is clean when she wakes up, and we are there for her with a happy, calm, loving attitude. Like you, I feel like I'm making it up - but trying to trust my instinct and hoping it's the right thing! I'm finding the balance between acknowledging the impacts of her past and not letting it overtake everything fairly tricky. I wonder if that ever improves? I suspect not!

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    1. I want to applaud you for listening to your instincts. I think we spend so much time listening to other people that we don't always listen to ourselves. You are her mummy and you know that she needs a sleep. Sadly children rarely ever admit to being tired but your instinct was rewarded by her getting some much needed sleep. I've had to fight with Katie in the past and evening bedtimes can still be a challenge in our house. I think we shouldn't be too scared of being firm and giving tight boundaries. Often our children need them more than most, even if they do protest and make us second guess our instincts. I hope that things are going well with you xx

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  4. Sounds like you're dealing with some very unpleasant behaviour and no matter what the reason is our children still need to learn it's not ok to spit at people. It's great that you can reflect and see what needs to change, somethings just don't work and you have to rethink, it's trial and error a lot of the time. Hope you get Mrs Hanky Cranky under control soon.

    Thanks for linking to the Weekly Adoption Shout Out.

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    1. Hi Sarah. Well Miss Hanky Cranky is still very much in evidence although she is very much more Miss Rudeness and Belligerance this half term week. I'm still taking no crap (so to speak) but it's been a challenging week. Am trying to promote good behaviour with some penny rewards for our trip to Disney and see if that helps her stop and think a bit more. She seems in a real funk of just responding angrily at the moment. *sighs*

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    2. Interstingly though, I should say, we've not had the meltdowns and temper tantrums so the bedroom trick is working. Now onto the next phase......

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  5. I have had some of the same - similar with my little one this last week - she has been ill - and now a regression - hitting and kicking and tears and meltdowns - I start with a step nearest to where we are in the house at the time - but sometimes have to go to bedroom - i dont like doing it - but she was familiar with it previous to when she came to me - and sometimes the physical distance created is the thing that breaks the cycle - often when I get to the bottom of the stairs then she is is ready to come down. its hard work and relentless, isnt it - but when they bare 15 it will be a whole lot easier for us all. than ks for your encouragement on my blogpost x

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    1. I am tempted to agree with you about the physical distance. Katie's FC uses a time out outside the door to the main room and finds it works well. I know Katie is secure enough here to know that she isn't being rejected per say and I ensure I give her autonomy over when she rejoins us. Yes it's relentless and there are days when I feel all out of clever tricks and techniques!! LOL

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  6. I have seen number one work very effectively before, but of course, all children are different. I can't imagine what it is like to face that kind of behaviour, you are an example to us all! Good Luck

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    1. Bless you. I'm not sure I am an example. I didn't react too well the first time she spat in my face but I've learned and now have a plan in place. It's hard. I wouldn't let anyone else do that to me and I explain that to her and what would happen in the "real world" if she did that to someone else. Let's face it, most people would just give someone a slap around the face in return to that sort of thing. This parenting lark is tough isn't it? LOL

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  7. I love how you are dealing with these behaviours, and how you acknowledged that things weren't working as they were and decided to take a new approach. I teach behaviour strategies to parents and now as a parent myself have a whole new appreciation for just how hard it is to know something but apply it too. Ignoring a behaviour (but not the child) is so incredibly effective but so hard to do...but not as hard as staying calm during it all!

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    1. LOL I am trying so hard to do the ignoring thing and, oh yes, it is sooooo hard!! I know that I probably should ingore the relentless "bum, poo, willy, fart" comments and I try to walk away but there are some times when I just can't. Staying calm is my daily (scrap that.....minute by minute) challenge. Some days are better than others, that's all I will say. I have embraced my inner fishwife on occasion and didn't know I could shout as loudly as I now can! Not nice for anyone though and I try hard not to. Failed this morning when Miss Hanky Cranky went to her room so that I could calm down after her not getting dressed to go swimming with Daddy!

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  8. Dealing with a behaviour is always a challenge. I have lost count of the number of different strategies that we have tried with our son whom we adopted from an orphanage a year ago. I thought everything was a lost cause until I came across a website (Empowered To Connect) that has proven beneficial. You may be interested in researching this site to see if there are any ideas that might help you as well. For us it has been a life saver.

    Kim

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    1. Hi Kim. Oooh thanks for the link. I'll go and have a read.

      http://empoweredtoconnect.org/

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