We are half way through March Break and we are all still alive. The boys are outside playing the yard with nerf guns ( yes I let my kids play with nerf guns, there are plenty of things they are not allowed and we live in the country so shooting foam arrows at tress is okay with me) and have been all afternoon. We are going out to Jack's son house for dinner tonight because he is leaving the country for 7 months and I would like the boys to have a little less energy than they currently do when we get there. Tired is sometimes a good thing and I know that once we get there the TV will go on and they will stare blankly for a few hours so running around now is a good plan.
I listened to the last of my Beyond Consequences (BC) parenting classes this afternoon and some of the things that Heather talked about as parents chatted in really resonated for me. One was remembering that the behaviour we see in our kids is usually a fear response
BC is different from a lot of other parenting strategies ( for kids who have had trauma and have attachment issues) because the belief is that all the behaviour that we see comes form the fear that the child has deep within themselves that they are ________ ( worthless, unlovable, stupid, etc.). The solution changing the behaviours is addressing the fears and working through those emotions in a loving way.
Here is a perfect example from this morning, Kevin looked sad at breakfast I asked him what was wrong and he said that he had a bad dream last night. I asked him what it was about and he said that he dreamt that I was gone. I assured him I was not going anywhere and then Randall barged into the converation and it ended. A little later I assured him again quietly in his ear that I was here to stay and he shouted out " You wear bikini underwear" I corrected his language and pulled him back to what I said. I said it again and had him repeat it, gave him a kiss and moved on.
I knew that he had actually heard me but he was so scared that he had put his fear out there that he needed to misbehave to take away from the fact that I was addressing his fear and making it a little less powerful. I knew this and did not react to the behaviour in the way that he expected, instead I just corrected him and moved on. He has been loving, affectionate and looking for reassurance all day but he has not been angry or disregulated wghich is what would of happened if I had gotten drawn into the behaviour that he was showing me earlier. We would of had a crappy day and I can bet that he would of worked at misbehaving until he raged and got all the emotions out that way.
The second thing that really stood out for me was her take on video games. When the boys moved in they were both addicted to game boys, Randall much more than Kevin but they both enjoyed getting lost in them whenever they could. Jack and I slowly weaned them off and by the time school had started they were not being played at all except for when we were in the car for more than 1 hour. It worked well and we started to see Randall learning to do other things like read comics and play board games. We allowed them to play computer games on the weekends but started to notice that Kevin would disassociate when he was playing and would always have an accident. Randall became a whining machine always asking when he could play and how long he could play for. Eventually the computer was taken away as well.
Randall still longs for them, he asks to play and is always on us to let him have one but he is a happier kid without them. There is less arguing, whining and disassociating. I have heard/read and strongly believe that kids who have experienced significant trauma use video games to escape from the world, it is a coping mechanism. It allows them to hide and not interact and I am not willing to let that happen, my kids need to learn to function in the world.
Heather also believes that it is an escape, a way to move into a world were they can be really successful and not have to deal with all their feelings. I could not agree more.
I am not saying that you should take your kids video games away, I am just saying this works for us.
PS - I wrote this post this afternoon but saved it as a draft. I just got home from dinner out and a tough goodbye for Jack and the boys. 2 little boys who think that the big brother they love may never come back even though we tell them he will. Why the heck should they believe us, everyone else who leaves never comes back. Kevin raged on the way home and we had to pull the car over twice, he had a good cry on my shoulder the second time and then made it home but he is one angry and confused little guy. He is finally in bed althoughRandall has a few new bruises and scratches from Kevin trying to hurt him, Randall likes to ramp it up when he knows that Kevin is angry - not a good plan because he always gets hurt, one day he will get it.