Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Looking for Adopters:



Is There Any Support Available Post-Adoption?

A Blog Post Written by 
Blackpool Council Adoption Services


Here at Blackpool Council Adoption Services, we fully understand that adoption is a huge life-changing decision for all involved, that’s why we are there to support you every step of the way, not only during the adoption process, but in your post adoption journey too. We know that adoption is much more than a legal process. When you adopt a child, you welcome them into your life and will help them to grow and develop, and share their future.

Who We Are:

Blackpool Council Adoption Services is a  Local Authority adoption agency, based in the North West of England. We help families throughout Lancashire and the North West (within a 50-mile radius of Blackpool) to grow by adopting children who desperately require a permanent, loving home.

At Blackpool Council Adoption Services, we put absolute priority on the safety, happiness and wellbeing of the children we care for. This means that we will always do our best to ensure that an adoptive family and a child are a really good match - allowing them to become a family in a way that will enrich all involved. We are thorough  in our pre-adoption assessments and we go the ‘extra mile’ in giving reassuring and effective post-adoption support for families.

We are also a member of the Adopt North West partnership and we are highlighting the real need for adoptive families throughout the region.

Supporting You In Your New Life:


If you’re reading this blog, there’s a good chance you’re already aware of how important adoption is, and how exciting yet emotional the process can be. As with any big decision, adoption can feel daunting at times, and this, along with feelings of uncertainty really point to a need for support during and after the adoption process.

Our primary goal is the happiness, safety and wellbeing of the children in our care, and this means that the happiness and wellbeing of the families who adopt them is of utmost importance!

We guide adoptive families through every step of the way - from the initial decision to adopt, through the application process, and then with the post-adoption phase.

We know that many prospective adopters and current adopters have concerns over the support given during the adoption process, especially after an adoption order has been made. The post-adoption phase can be a difficult or worrying time for many people. After all the hustle and bustle of the adoption process, it’s easy to feel like you’re ‘on your own now’, left to cope with your new life.

However, that needn’t be the case! We know how important it is for adoptive families to feel supported through these times - we work hard to develop a strong network of support, from social workers as well as other adoptive families, to ensure that any questions or difficulties you may have are fully resolved, so we provide a wealth of contact points, advice, and assistance to make sure the post-adoption period is the happy ‘new start’ it ought to be.

A few of the services we provide for families in the post-adoption time include:

     A specified social worker to act as point-of-contact for any queries
     Any continued support and training you might need
     Ensuring you receive all services to which you’re entitled
     Putting you in contact with other adoptive parents and families
     Connections and contact with other adoptive parents and families 
     Social events for adopters to meet, share experiences, and socialise
     Full assessment of support needs, including financial support
     Quarterly Adopters Support Groups, including evening seminars and coffee mornings
     Access and provision of specialist support services (e.g. such as Parenting Programmes using play therapy to address attachment issues)
     Invitations  to social events / family fun days held at least annually, allowing the children and their families to meet up on an informal basis
     Assistance with managing direct and indirect mailbox contact arrangements between your child and birth family members

Whatever step of the adoption process you’re taking, we’re here to guide you and make the experience as happy and easy as possible.

Can You Help?

Blackpool Council Adoption Services currently has over 50 children in need of a prospective adoptive family. The UK as a whole has over 4,000 children who need a forever family, and the North West has over 600 children currently in care.

We need to place children of all ages and from a variety of backgrounds, including sibling groups who need to stay together. So we are looking for a wide range of prospective adoptive parents from the North West and beyond. There’s no such thing as the perfect or typical adoptive family.

You have to be over 21 to adopt, happy to make space in your life and home for a child, patient, flexible, energetic and determined to make a real difference to a child’s future - for a lifetime.

We provide adoption services within a 50-mile radius of Blackpool, which includes all of Lancashire, and towns such as Warrington, St Helens, Blackburn, Bolton and more.

If you live in the North West and are thinking of adopting a child, or you know anyone who is thinking of adopting in the area, please do get in contact with us. You can find out more about us on our website, www.adoptwithblackpool.com, or you can talk to us on 01253 477888.


You can find out more about the post-adoption support we offer here.



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Note from Gem at Life with Katie. This post has been written by Blackpool Council Adoption Services. I have agreed to publish the post to support their efforts to find adopters. No recompense has been received for this post other than the hope that the children who are waiting to be adopted are able to find homes as soon as possible.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Looking for Adopters........



Raising awareness of adoption is something I am passionate about.  I am an Ambassador for the British Association for Adoption and Fostering and am always looking for ways to talk to people about adoption and ways to raise awareness. I support my Local Authority where I can by speaking to prospective adopters and offering support through the adoption process.  I also seem to have the most amazing sixth sense about who to speak to about it and have had many random conversations with people because I somehow sense they might be interested to talk about the subject.

Tomorrow as part of my ongoing efforts to raise awareness I will be publishing a blog post written by Blackpool Council Adoption Services.  I know that people read my blog who are considering adoption so when I was approached to ask if I would consider publishing a blog post for Blackpool Council to raise awareness of their adoption agency, I felt it would be a good idea to help reach prospective adopters in the north of the UK.  

When discussing the blog post with the Council I particularly asked them to write about the Post Adoption Support support they are able to offer adopters because this is an issue that is becoming more and more prominent in discussions among the adopters I know.  Obviously hosting a blog post does not mean that I am endorsing the agency writing it. I am merely a conduit for information and highlighting an agency that is actively seeking new adopters.

As always I am keen to receive feedback on the posts that I publish so do feel free to comment and let me know what you think.

Gem x


Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Payback!

It's nearly my birthday.  Birthdays over the past few years since Katie joined us have been interesting to say the least.  Katie is fine as long as it's her birthday.  She's OK with her friends birthdays (as long as she's not with me when I'm buying the presents).  If it's mine or TCM's or Pip's birthday then the sabotage kicks in.

I doubt she could tell you why she behaves in the way she does when it's our birthday.  Is it excitement or jealousy or some deep seated sorrow due to being adopted or a combination of everything? Who knows! 

Last year around my birthday we were getting ready to meet Pip so we had a baby shower which Katie really enjoyed.  Being a bit wiser, after several sabotaged birthdays over the past few years, TCM and I went to Harry Potter World whilst Katie was at school instead of having what I'd hope would be our traditional family day out.  This year my birthday also falls on a week day so I've planned to take Pip out with a friend and her daughter to the New Forest Wildlife Park.  I'm going to get a season ticket there this year because we love going there and it seemed a nice day to buy the ticket and take my friend along with me.  Pip is old enough to enjoy the play area and the animals this year.  So weather permitting that's what we'll be doing.  TCM and I briefly considered taking the children out for dinner after school but we decided there was no point because Pip is currently throwing all his food and Katie's behaviour is still ridiculously challenging, to say the least.  My lovely friend is going to babysit instead and we are going out for a Thai at our local, favourite restaurant.  We've not been out together for ages so it will be a real treat.

I felt guilty about this approach because I want to share my birthday with my family.  Any guilt I felt was extinguished this morning however when I realised that the sabotage had already kicked in.

Last night I went out for a pre-birthday meal with one of my oldest friends.  We have a lovely tradition of taking each other out for a birthday meal. I've lost count of how long we've been doing this now.  It's extra special nowadays because we don't get to spend lots of time together at the current time.  Katie wasn't impressed that I was going out and said, as I was tucking her into bed, 

"I don't want you to go out Mummy.  I want you to stay with me for ever and ever. Can I come as well?" 

In some ways, after being repeatedly over the past few weeks that she hates me and wishes I was dead, it was nice to hear that she wanted me to stay.  I asked myself whether she said this because she is feeling vulnerable and insecure or feeling left out.  I said that I would see her in the morning and that I was going on my very own play-date with my friend, just as she does with hers (without the fancy dress outfits though!) and I would see her in the morning.  We had a kiss and a cuddle and did her bedtime routine and I went out. She went to bed relatively nicely according to TCM. Only one trip downstairs before going to sleep.

I will just say that I had a lovely evening.  It was lovely to spend time with my friend and have some real conversation.  Not distracted or tired conversation either.  It was a real treat on many levels.  I am also looking forward to the massage treat that my friend has organised for me as my present.

It took me a while this morning to realise what had happened and why.  Katie climbed into bed with us and asked for her Hudl at around 6.45am this morning.  All quite happy. No problems at all until she was asked to get up and get dressed.  Then World War 3 started.  Everything I asked her to do had the word "No!" screamed back at me.  

I asked her to get dressed.  

"No".  

She ran off, messing about, refusing to put her dress on.  Then she couldn't put it on.  Then she couldn't do the buttons.  

I asked her to put her socks on.

"No"

Same routine.

I asked her to come and do her hair.

You know what the answer to that was.

Every part of the process was accompanied by being slapped or kicked or grunting and groaning.

This continued until I lost my temper.  The frustration was overwhelming. The time was a-ticking.  We still hadn't had breakfast.  Pip wasn't dressed. I wasn't dressed and it was 8:15am.

I ended up picking her up and putting her in the chair.  She then screamed at me as I was brushing her hair:

"I hate you! I wish you were dead"

So I did something that probably isn't in the therapeutic parenting manuals but the child in me had really had enough by this point.  I pretended to collapse on the floor.  I did a real Oscar winning performance as well.  I lay there, hairbrush in hand, still as can be, on the floor.

Katie ran off to TCM shouting "Mummy's dead, Mummy's dead!

OK I probably shouldn't have done it.  I don't want to make her any more insecure. I should have ignored it as I do most of the time. I should have dug deep and found an ounce more patience.  It felt good though to give into a reaction after trying to be so contained all the time so don't send the Therapeutic Parenting Police after me just yet ( I probably shouldn't make police jokes should I?).

I obviously came back to life pretty quickly and explained to Katie that she should never, ever, say something that she doesn't mean.

After we had all finished exploding things calmed down again, to an extent.  Breakfast was eaten, albeit very slowly.  TCM went into work a bit later and stayed with Pip so I could take Katie to school on my own and we made it to school just in time.  I had a chat with her on the way to school and explained that, from now on, she wasn't allowed her Hudl in the morning until after she was dressed.  She acknowledged what I had said although I'm anticipating ructions in the morning when she realises I mean what I say.  I'm going to make up a sticker chart with a morning timetable to help with a visual reminder of this.  

It occurred to me, on a rare solo walk home from school, that Katie was probably cross because I'd dared to go out last night.  She wasn't happy and she was letting me know.  Add that to the events I wrote about in Hot Fuzz; all the regression and the fact that it's been an explosive weekend (which I suspect is linked to all the anxiety she was feeling after her shenanigans that evening) and it's not a surprise.

Having said all that, I'm asking how much of this we should accept?  How do we handle this?  I'm inclined to tighten boundaries as much as possible in the house.  I am not going to accept anyone hitting, slapping, kicking or spitting at me. whatever the reason. I don't want to lose my temper. It's not my natural personality but at the moment I just feel tearful and explosive myself.  I've had enough.  I feel overwhelmed. I'm fed up with living in a war zone. Something needs to change.  I need to change.

I try to treat Katie's tantrums as I would Pip's but ignoring is all very well and good when you've got all the time in the world.  School starts at 8:45am and the tension builds very quickly.  I'm trying to spend time with Katie but it's not easy when Pip is with us all the time during the week and he's going through the Terrible Two's in massive fashion at the moment so it's coming at me from all sides.  

For once I don't have any answers.  I really don't know what to do. So other than doing the timetable and trying to think of ways I can minimise stress in the household I'm going to do nothing specific and see what happens. I will continue to reassure Katie that she is safe and isn't going anywhere.  I will continue with the parenting techniques we have been using but will be tightening the boundaries of acceptable behaviour. Maybe she needs this to feel safer?  I'm going to try and choose my battles more carefully and try not to feel aggrieved that Katie never picks up anything she drops and that I am constantly tidying up her discarded things.  I'm going to try to let that one ride for a while and see her as Pip's age (although he tidies up with me).  I'm going to try and organise our time after school so she has something specific to do.  I try and give her some time to relax and do what she wants to do but I'm not sure it always works with Katie, particularly a regressed Katie who seems unable to self-amuse. I'm thinking I'll get both of them out for a walk/scoot after school when I can to burn off some energy.  I will continue to hope that this is just a phase and that it will pass as things at school settle down more and once we've moved to our temporary house and that anxiety has also passed.  It feels like a riding it out sort of time.  I hope my instincts are right.

Of course all of this is made harder by the fact that I'm totally exhausted nearly all the time.  I suspect that kids are picking up on that as well.

I'm also going to try and not make more of this than it is and enjoy my birthday.

I'm also aware that I might just be living in La La Land and holidaying in Denial but I'm aware of that and will keep an eye on what's going on to see if more input is required.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Hot Fuzz!


Over the past couple of days Katie has surpassed herself with her challenging behaviour.  I said to TCM that I'm reminded of the film Parenthood and the scene where Steve Martin's son has a meltdown because he gets beaten by a game called Bad Dudes.  That scene sums up life in our house at the moment.  However, even the electric ear-cleaner scene pales into comparison with the stunt Katie pulled yesterday.

Yesterday after school we decided to play in the garden for a while before having tea and getting ready for gymnastics.  We had a lovely time.  I got a bowl of water out and the children were both playing nicely with it.  Our garden is north-facing though and has a dense clay soil so the wet weather has left the garden quite muddy.  Katie was still in her school uniform and took off her school shoes.  She was wearing brand new white socks so I asked her to put her shoes back on.

"No" she said so I told her to put them on again.

Again she refused and then ran across the muddy grass.  I told her to put the shoes back on otherwise we would have to go inside.  She refused so I picked her up and carried her inside.

She wasn't happy with this outcome.

Not happy at all.

So she picked up my glass of water and threw it, smashing the glass into smithereens.

I was not happy with this outcome.

Not happy at all.

So I very loudly and clearly told her to get herself into her room and told her that she wouldn't be going to gymnastics tonight.

That didn't go down well.

I rushed to pick up Pip from the garden and put him in his playpen to keep him safe from the glass.

In between this Katie required more support to go to her room. She didn't want to go willingly.

I emailed TCM and asked him if he could come home from work as early as possible as I could foresee a challenging time ahead.  He replied to say he was just leaving and he'd be home as soon as possible.

Once she was in her room, I cleared up all the glass.  I swept it up and then started hoovering to ensure I'd picked it all up.  I decided I might as well quickly put the hoover around downstairs whilst I was at it.

I was hoovering the hall when there was a knock at the door.  Initially I thought it was TCM and that I'd left my key in the door but on closer inspection there appeared to be two figures at the door.

I opened the door and saw two policemen standing at the door.

I looked at them quizzically, my heart sinking.  Was TCM OK?

"Is everything OK in the house madam?"

"Ummm yes, everything is fine" I replied, heart sinking again that the neighbours had heard all the shouting and called the police.

"Only we received an emergency call from this house"

What?

"No I've not phoned you" I said, a thought starting to articulate in my brain.

KATIE!

"But I think I might know who called you"  I then explained what had happened over the previous 30 minutes.

They explained that they had to come in and speak to Katie to make sure she was OK.

My heart sank.

The house was a total tip.  Not just a bit of a mess.  But a total bloody mess.  Where we're sorting things out to move out for 6 months whilst we extend the house, it currently looks like we're auditioning for a place on one of those hoarding programmes.  I didn't want anyone in my house.  Especially not two, rather hunky looking, cops.

They had to come in.  They had to ensure that I wasn't hoovering up some evidence I imagine.  They did their best to put me at my ease.

I called up to Katie "Katie have you phoned anyone?"

"No Mummy" Katie came to the top of the stairs attempting to look innocent but failing miserably. 

"Well there are two visitors here downstairs who say that someone in this house phoned them. I know it wasn't me and I know it wasn't Pip because he's here with me.  So that leaves you."

"Who is it Mummy?"

"It's the police"

A look of horror and shock and fear passed over Katie's face.

"You need to come downstairs and tell them that you're OK".

"NO!" She paled and she fled into Pip's room

I called her a few more times but she wasn't coming down (can you blame her?) so I excused myself from the policemen and said that I needed to go and talk to her to try and get her downstairs.

I found her cowering behind Pip's cot.  Totally stunned and rather terrified looking (so she bloody should be!).

Lots of negotiations later she still wouldn't come downstairs so I had no option but to invite the policemen upstairs to view the upstairs of my very messy house. I have to say I was pretty stunned by everything taking place and feeling quite bemused. This has never happened to me before.  Or maybe it was because they were both so good looking.  They came up carrying Pip, bless them.  They made jokes about how cute he was and handed him back to me.

I will say that they were brilliant with Katie.  They cajoled her and told her all about their 6 year old children  and the silly things they get up to and eventually she came downstairs, hiding behind me, clinging hold of my hand.  I was trying to manoeuvere the stairs with Pip in my arms.


They told her off for breaking the glass and for phoning them.  Apparently they had their sirens and lights flashing and everything (a fact backed up by a very worried neighbour who phoned to make sure we were all OK). They impressed on her that she must never phone again unless it was an emergency. 

Then they left. Me waving them off with my still slightly WTF and bemused smile on my face.  In retrospect I think I was in total shock.

I was trying to think what to say to Katie. What do you say? Do I do the angry parent routine or do I allow the shock of the police being at the house work it's own magic? I plumped for the latter. To be honest I was still too shocked and mortified by the mess in the house and what on earth the police must have thought to be angry. How high on the crap parent scale did I score?

I sat Katie down for a chat. She admitted that she'd phoned the police but was totally confused as to how they knew the call came from our house.  I explained to her about tracing calls. She admitted she had phoned 999 because she was angry with me and wanted to get me into trouble.

Little ****!!!

Ha Ha! That backfired on her a bit didn't it?

I asked her if she was scared.  She looked terrified. She then fell apart and started sobbing in my arms. I held her and we talked about how she managed her anger and how dangerous throwing the glass was. TCM finally arrived home safe and well and we both chatted to her although she didn't really want to chat. By that point she was back to being rude and refusing to speak to us.  Personally I think she was so scared she was deflecting because she was feeling so overloaded with emotions.

Hopefully a lesson learnt. 

I suppose I'd better get on the phone to our Social Worker and give her a heads up on this little escapade.

I'll tell you about the stealing of the cough sweets and almost choking this morning another time.....

Did I mention that it's pretty relentless here at the moment?

Friday, 9 May 2014

Can I regress too?

We're still in deep, deep, deep, deep, snow turmoil here in the Katie household (pardon the Frozen pun - it's all we hear in the house at the moment - it's either the Frozen film or the CD or we're discussing dresses and capes or just singing the songs).  There is a lot on all our plates at the same time and all overlapping, creating the turmoil.

Katie is still mid full regression to toddlerhood.  It would be quite funny at times if it, well, really wasn't, particularly with Pip in full toddlerhood mode as well.  Katie wasn't lying when she said her and Pip were twins!  I think I just misunderstood what she actually meant.

There is still a lot going on in all our lives that could be the cause of her regression.  Her teacher is still away at school and will be for at least a few more weeks; Katie feels Pip is getting more of my attention because he's home with me all day; we're planning a house move for about 6 months whilst our house is being extended and pretty much rebuilt; I'm suffering from some sort of chronic fatigue; it's the summer term when children traditionally lose the plot and turn into crazy monsters with the thought of moving up a year.

Whatever the cause is, I can see that Katie needs to return to being a younger version of herself.  Be that to revisit some developmental phase that she needs support it or because she is feeling insecure and wants to be babied to help her feel more secure.  I want to help her but it's clearly not going to be a quick fix and I'd like to feel I have a clear plan.  I also suspect that desire isn't going to be easy to fulfil.

Katie and I are trying to spend more time together, just us.  We had a lovely visit to the circus on Saturday although the threat of tantrum was never far away.  We've chatted about how much time Pip actually spends with me during the day i.e. very little as he still naps for quite long periods.  We've talked about how much more fun we used to have together in contrast. She seemed happier with that. TCM and I are trying to tag-team at bathtime and bedtime more and alternating between the children so both get Mummy and Daddy time.  Katie is messing around at bedtime again (how many more times will be have to sort this issue out I ask myself?) so I'm thinking AGAIN how we manage that issue.

I'm going to see the Deputy Head Teacher at her school this afternoon to see how much is spilling over into school and to also discuss how much of the regression has been caused by the fact that Katie's teacher is away on sick leave again.  Don't get me wrong, I really like her teacher.  She's a lovely lady.  It's not her fault or the school's fault that she needs time away from work.  The difficulty is the succession of temporary teachers Katie has had in the classroom.  Each has their own way of teaching and organising the class.  Each morning the children come in to a different set-up with different expectations.  It's not fair!  Katie actually said she didn't want to go to school today, which is unusual for her.  She generally really enjoys going.

With so much going on at the same time, and very little energy on my part to deal with it all, it's hard to know where to start.  I'm trying to enable Katie to regress as much as possible but it's so difficult to be consistent. At times she wants to be a 6 year old and do the things she would normally do but then when she doesn't get her own way she'll have a full blown tantrum.  She's taken to saying "Waaaaaaaaa" with a baby face every time she doesn't get her own way.  I'm ignoring it as much as is humanly possible but, with the threat of a tantrum lurking in the background all the time, it's hard not to tense or respond non-therapeutically.  I found myself asking her to decide if she was going to be 18 months old or 6 this morning.  I don't think I was really expecting a reply and I could hear myself saying it and laughing at myself internally at the same time.  I'd just like to know which parenting techniques to use but it's hard when her emotional age is so erratic. When you're nearly late for school every day because suddenly your daughter is unable to dress herself; is messing about with her food and taking 30 mins to eat a crumpet; has to be kept close to you at all times; is talking in baby talk most of the time; it's hard not to feel stressed.  Especially when Pip is kicking off every time you try and change his nappy or put him in the buggy.  On the plus side Pip finds Katie hilarious.  I wish I could!

Ok I do at times, occasionally, every now and again......

I'm sure we'll get there and come through it and this phase will be replaced with a new and exciting phase to wrap our heads around but at the moment I just want to sit on a deserted sandy beach in the sunshine with a book and work out how to get myself feeling better and find the energy to deal with it all.

I've been to see my GP about my exhaustion.  We've done most of the blood tests that can be done and all are normal (it's a relief to see I'm not anaemic any more).  I'm having a Vitamin D test done next week.  My GP isn't one to subscribe to chronic fatigue as a diagnosis though. Chronic fatigue can be triggered by lots of different things.  I've not had an obvious viral trigger so we're looking at hormones and something called secondary trauma.  I suffer from a condition called PMDD (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) which is hormone driven so the hormone trigger is a real possibility.  I've just started Prostrap injections to induce a chemical menopause to try and balance my hormones.  I've also had considerable stress with Pip's adoption and also with family issues of varying kinds. I'm someone who takes the weight of the world on my shoulders and has a tendency to over-think.  I came to adoption from a working history of supporting teenagers with multiple issues plus my own difficult childhood; ongoing family stresses and 15 years of infertility and miscarriages.  My GP thinks that all this combined has led to me being totally emotionally and psychologically overloaded which has led to the fatigue.  The stress of Pip's adoption has clearly triggered a lot of issues in our family.  I will admit that having a baby has meant that I've had to open a door inside me that I closed a very long time ago when I accepted that I would never have a birth child.  It's also raised issues for me about the time we missed with Katie and I've had to mourn that.

It's a good theory (although I think I'd prefer my Vitamin D levels to be low in all honesty -so much easier to address) and she's going to help me try and sort it all out.  For the time being I'm trying to learn how to pace myself energetically and thinking twice before getting too excited when I get a burst of energy.  As a result the house is a mess and I'm not even sure how we'll sort this house move and build out but I am a tough cookie and will sort it all out. I won't be beaten but I am choosing my battles more carefully these days and trying *cough* to expect less of myself (my friends reading this will be falling about laughing at this point I'm sure). I'm very lucky to have some wonderful friends who support me and allow me to off-load and who remind me that I probably try and do too much on a daily basis.  I thank each and every one of them - you know who you are.

It might be nice though if I could regress as well and let someone take care of me........ thing is, as my friends know, I'd probably never be able to let that happen.  At this point I'm just wondering who has the most control issues, me or Katie?




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Friday, 2 May 2014

An Issue of Regression.....

Life in the Katie household is quite disturbed at the moment.  We've obviously had the wonderful news that Pip's adoption has finally been approved and that has brought lots of relief for the adults in the house.  For our little lady though things are not quite so settled, which obviously impacts on everyone.

I've been writing recently about Katie's deteriorating behaviour; her current penchant for peeing on furnishings and her levels of aggression.  Things became so violent on Saturday that we made the decision to speak to our Social Worker and ask for some support.  The phrase "it can turn on a dime" pretty much sums up the uncertainty about Katie's behaviour.  One minute she can be sweetness and light and the next minute she is behaving like a toddler. And this is exactly where our Social Worker feels that she is emotionally at the current time.

It would seem that Pip becoming a toddler, and a massively tantrumming one at that, has triggered a similar
response in Katie.  She is talking in baby talk and melting down over the slightest issue, mostly when the word "No" is involved just like Pip.  This probably explains the peeing issue as well.  She is now fighting bedtime again, just as she did when she was about 3 years old and getting up constantly so is more tired the next day.  Maybe she feels that Pip is getting more attention than her or that you have to be a baby to gain attention or maybe a subconscious part of her needs to explore being 18 months old with us because this is something she didn't get to do.  I suspect the reason will never become totally clear, all I do know is that we currently have two emotionally 18 month old children in the house.  Katie often says that she and Pip are twins and we're just beginning to realise that there might be more to this statement than wanting to differentiate between Pip and Kip as we initially thought.  All this isn't helped by the fact that I'm still very low in energy and having to try and pace myself more and TCM is still fighting off a throat virus of some sort that he's had all winter (and only just gone to see the GP about, requiring antibiotics!) so he's not firing on all cylinders either.  Truth be told we could both do with several weeks laying on a warm beach!

The advice of our Social Worker is to support Katie as much as possible through this phase (I hope it's just a phase!).  I'm having to dress Katie again because she is no longer able to do this herself and she is requiring a lot of effort to get her to do pretty much everything.  Thankfully is she feeding herself still.  We need to know where she is at all times again because she simply cannot be trusted to respect the boundaries she has been given of not drawing on things or smearing lipstick on things.

On the suggestion of our Social Worker we are providing a narrative when Pip is having tantrums.  This narrative isn't spoken directly to Katie but within earshot. the aim being to raise awareness of how the tantrum might be making us feel as well i.e. "Oh Pip is having a tantrum, well I know that if I walk away and leave him for a moment he will calm himself down again". "I feel sad when Pip is angry and worry he might hurt himself".  "Oh there we go, Pip is calm again, now we can play with his toys and have some fun"....that sort of thing.  The aim being to show Katie that Pip's tantrums are managed in the same way as hers and also that being left to be quiet enables him to calm himself down, hopefully encouraging her to do the same.  Believe me, I don't want to have to restrain her as I had to do on Saturday.  It was horrible and exhausting but we ended up worrying that she was going to hurt herself; one of us or even Pip because she was throwing toys around the room and kicking and screaming.  She even ripped the stairgate off the bottom of the stairs. We might also revisit re-birthing, which is something that we did with Katie when she was about 3 years old and we simulated her being born from my tummy.  At that time she wanted to pretend to be a baby and have a pretend bottle etc.  It may hopefully turn out that enabling her to revisit being a toddler but sharing memories of that time with Pip will help her come through this period able to return to being a 6 year old.

The other issue that has arisen is over sanctions for unacceptable behaviour.  Our Social Worker has suggested giving her a choice of two sanctions and allowing her to choose her punishment so to speak.  This supports Katie's need to feel in control.  I tried this with her a few days ago after she refused to listen to me when I said we were leaving for school.  She ran off upstairs despite being told to stay in the kitchen (her aim being to get a lipstick to take to school - the lipstick issue is a whole different blog post!).  I gave her the choice between not riding her scooter to school or not having any sweets or treats for the rest of the day (stealing sweets etc from the cupboards is another issue we are battling as Katie is able to climb up high and also open the child locks).  Katie chose not to have sweets or treats, the outcome of which was not experienced until after school when she realised what that meant.  It didn't go down well but I didn't give in to any of the tantrums that followed.  TCM and I are going to find a place for the sweets and treats in the house where Katie is unable to reach.  She is a very determined young lady though who likes to push everything over the limit and far beyond so the issue is bigger than just hiding the sweets.  It may be that we have to bring back the time-out spot that we used when she was younger.  I'm trying to treat her like a 6 year old where possible though and reward her when she does behave in an age-appropriate manner.

We are revisiting Katie and I spending time together.  Katie is currently alternating between who she hates out of us the most so in some ways I'd like to alternate her special time with TCM.  She is still favouring me over TCM most of the time, unless I've said "No" to her over something and then she's all over Daddy like a rash.  Katie and I are going to the circus tomorrow afternoon which we are both looking forward to and I'm hoping it will be a success.  Learning from previous treat experiences we are not having lunch out.  We are just going to the circus and coming back home again, with nothing else involved.  I'm also staying with her at birthday parties, where I had been starting to leave her, because she is feeling very insecure in party situations.  She admitted to me on Sunday that she found the disco parties too bouncy and didn't like joining in the games.  She's a girl after my own heart there really so I do feel for her.  I will stay with her until she starts to feel more secure though even though I seem to get picked on by the entertainers and forced to do things like dance the Macarena in front of everyone.

I've also asked TCM to be more involved at bathtime/bedtime.  Generally he is arriving home from work at that time of day and will often organise milk (for Pip) and hot-water bottle (for Katie).  It also gives him time to wind down a bit but I've said to him that we really need to both be around to manage the flash points and also to alternate who takes care of Pip after his bath.  Katie had been drying herself and getting PJs on but this is becoming a real flashpoint currently with Katie refusing to get dressed and generally doing everything she can to cause an argument.  I feel it's unfair on Pip for me to suddenly stop doing his routine but feel it might be positive to alternate so that both children can rely on both parents to help them out.

Lots of changes and lots to remember.  Changing the routines is quite hard because I'd just become used to Katie being able to do things for herself.  It's frustrating that we are going backwards again but I'm hopeful that we will start to move forwards again. How long that will take I don't know and I will admit that I'm finding it all tough.  I just don't have the energy to spare for endless arguments and shouting and I do find myself becoming exasperated and cross more quickly than I would like. I'm trying very hard to be a therapeutic parent but I do find it hard.

We are currently planning Pip's Adoption Celebration Day and looking at ways to make sure Katie feels that it's about her as well. I'm going to ask the judge to make it a joint celebration and suggested to Katie she takes along the bear that the judge gave her at her Celebration Day.  We've also asked her to take photos to help keep her involved and are re-creating what we did for her special day so she can be the keeper of the memories.

If anyone else has any ideas or stories to help with regression or any of the other issues I've raised here I would be delighted to hear them. Thanks in advance.......

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