Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Digging in Deep.......

I mentioned in my previous post Preparing for Winter, TLC and Reflections that I was enjoying the current season and starting to feel a lot more with it again.  I found in my tap class last night that I was able to remember the routines with more clarity and I enjoyed the class again. When I took a break in May I was feeling so stressed and emotionally tired that it had started to feel like a chore and a challenge. I've even decided not to participate in any of the shows this year which saddens me because one of the performances is a charity performance dedicated to a lovely friend who died 3 years ago from breast cancer and the performance means a lot to me.  I have performed in this show for the past 2 years.  This year I'm going to help do the troupe's hair instead so I can feel I've done something to help.

The main difficulty in life at the moment is Katie's behaviour. She just seems so angry
at the moment and we feel like we are walking on egg shells the whole time. I'm not someone who will tip-toe round someone for fear of their temper but I am certainly picking my battles, of which there are currently plenty to choose from. What worries me most is the anger she expresses. It is explosive and it worries me tremendously. I do think much of her current behaviour is over-tiredness from starting back at school.  A good friend has made me stop and think that some of the weekend activities we are doing to help Katie feel that she is getting attention may actually be over-stimulating her and perhaps quieter weekends might be the way forward.  We're going to take this on board and do the best with can with this suggestion.  The mind jar isn't having the desired effect at the moment and this is something we need to use in quieter moments so Katie doesn't feel it is something being suggested to her because she is angry.  Much of her behaviour at home is really quite anti-social at the moment and I am feeling the building of a knot in my stomach when she is at home.  I'm trying hard not to lose my temper with her but I will admit that I'm finding that harder and harder, particularly when Katie steps up her behaviour. I'm trying to focus more on myself and calm down how I'm feeling so as not to shift all the focus on to Katie. Yoga definitely helps me feel a bit better on the inside and I do feel that the small amount of inner calmness gives me an extra 10 seconds or so to try and stop myself exploding. It's not always easy though.  Ideally I'd like a spa day....or weekend.....or week!  I'd like to feel that I'm breathing deep into myself and reaching those parts that other things cannot reach.

My friend who died told me that she helped herself feel better by making herself look better on the outside. When she lost her hair she attended a make-up course and learned how to draw her eyebrows back in and make her face look healthy. Everyday when I put my make-up on I think of her and remember that she said that if you look in the mirror and look healthy then you will feel healthy.  Because of this I am really careful about my facial care. I always wear a bit of make-up (I'm no diva I'm afraid so a bit of foundation; blusher; mascara and lippy is my limit in pretty much any situation). I do take my make-up off every night (and have done since I was 18 years old) and I've moisturised every single day and night for the same amount of time. That's quite an investment.

With everything going on I've found I've been looking a bit tired so have bought a new eye cream and am looking at what facial creams and cleansers might help my skin survive the winter. I've been made aware of a cleanser by Eve Lom at John Lewis that might be a splurge of luxurious indulgence http://www.johnlewis.com/eve-lom-cleanser/p142312.

These little indulgences might seem frivolous but they are little things that help me get through the day and I need that help at the moment.  I do feel that I'm having to dig in deep to not be angry mum all day every day. I didn't know it was possible to feel the level of anger that I feel around Katie's behaviour.  The tantrums I can handle, it's the belligerence and rudeness and the inner need to understand and resolve the issues.  When she's asked to do something and she stands there and looks me squarely in the eye and says "NO" I can feel my blood boil and that knot in my stomach tighten even further.  When 15 minutes of the same stand-off is in motion I feel emotions that I didn't even know it was possible to feel.  This is all accompanied by some incredibly hyperactive and very silly behaviour such as slamming doors and generally making her presence and displeasure known.  It takes a tag team of TCM (Daddy) and I to get her into bed with minimal fuss. It all feels very dramatic in our house at the moment and I do rather like things to feel a lot calmer.

If anyone has some wonderful tips for managing this sort of behaviour please do post here or email me. I'd be delighted to hear anything that might be of use so that I can make my inner feel like my outer!

Thank you in advance....



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7 comments:

  1. I have not read this book but have heard on the adoption grapevine that it is supposed to be good though I am not sure if it deals with anger specifically. It is called "Why Can't My Child Behave?: Empathic Parenting Strategies that Work for Adoptive and Foster Families" by Amber Elliot

    Aside from that does Katie have any access to any therapy via her adoption agency? (I know you are a therapist yourself but I think sometimes it is better if the therapist is not such a close family member as such)

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    1. I'll look into downloading that book, thanks Greta. We are discussing the possibility of additional input with our SW at the moment but want to see if things settle for a bit longer first. It's still early days with Pip and Katie is only just back at school and learning to cope in class without two of her best friends. We are keeping therapy in mind though. I definitely can't be her therapist and her mother! It's very hard to do reflective listening when someone is throwing things at you ;) x

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  2. I used to have terrible scenes with my daughter. Looking back, part of it was unresolved issues with my own mother. She had often been exhausted and cross with us when we were children (she had four and I was the eldest) and I think to some extent I played out the scenes of recrimination/frustration with my (little) child. A good example was when I tried to do drawing with her and she used to tear up her work or scribble all over it (aged about 6) I remember feeling so angry that she behaved like this to me, and to herself. Then I realised (it took me a long time) that my mother used to be very impatient with me being clumsy and impractical - somehow I was replaying these moments with my daughter... I was the mother and the child at the same time..and my daughter could feel the tension rising, and responded accordingly.

    My advice is (except one should never really give advice to other parents) back off. Stop thinking what Katie should be doing to behave, stop setting boundaries, stop expecting things of her and of yourself, and start just BEING with her. Pretend she is much younger..what would you do if a toddler threw something or screamed or sabotaged. You would probably stop thinking about the thing itself they had done, but try and calm them down instead. that is a different sort of boundary we set for younger children. Maybe with older children we get so caught up in the rules for that age group that we forget that maybe a stage of feeling safe got missed out.

    She doesn't feel safe at the moment. That is not your fault. But you can remind her she is safe not by confronting her bad behaviour but somehow distracting her from it. I have an son with HFA and we use a method called Low Arousal where we delibarately tone down our response the worse he gets. A good example would be if you find they have hit a sibling you gently remove them from the situation, comfort the victim, praise the aggressor for not hitting them a second time ( I see you are trying hard not to hurt him again. I see you are making a real effort to calm down)(DIFFICULT AS THAT SOUNDS) Or a similar thing would be when they ruin something or break something smash something. You pay very little attention to the mess but praise them for helping you to clear it up or not treading on the broken glass! It really works, it sounds counter intuitive compared to Firm boundaries but sometimes you have to treat the root of the anger/anxiety by reminding them you are on their side, always. Also reduce the treats, reduce your standards, reduce the rewards so there is less tension over gratitude, ingratitude.
    My daughter is now 11, and she still gets angry sometimes (who doesn't?) and has outbursts but we are much better at reacting to unacceptable behaviour and try not to escalate it. Most of the time she is a delight, although she is still a sensitive proud soul. (with loads of friends I may add)

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    1. Hi Maria. Thank you so much for taking the time to leave your comment, it was incredibly helpful and struck quite a few chords with me - especially the unresolved issues from childhood stuff. I grew up in a very dictatorial household where willfulness of any kind was not tolerated. I realise that I'm a really strict parent and, whilst I don't go to the lengths of parenting that my parents did, I am probably a bit too on top of Katie about her behaviour. Had a long chat with TCM last night about this, whilst watching the Three Day Nanny, and we chewed the cud over how to lighten up a bit. I'm sure I'll write about how it works out but I'm really grateful to you for your comments xx

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  3. I totally get how you feel, it's how I felt in the first few months when Missy arrived. I definitely think brightening yourself up does do wonders for your inner feeing.

    I was also going to suggest the 'Why Can't My Child Behave' book which Sally Donovan has reviewed on her blog. It sounds very useful.

    Could you also look into Theraplay for Katie? I certainly think it has helped Missy's anger no end.

    xx

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  4. Have you figured out if Katie's feelings stem from genuine anger or if it's aggressive behavior masking something else? And I , too recommend 'Why Can't My Child Behave' by Amber Elliot. It's certainly helped a lot of adoptive parents, from what I've heard. And Sally Donovan has indeed written an excellent review. Good luck!

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