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Sometimes, the constant stream of maladaptive behavior and our exhaustion collide and we’re no longer in our “thinking brain” either. We get so desperate for relief that we start looking for solutions in misleading places.
Here are some things to try to remember to help your compass re-center on North (so-to-speak):
- The 80/20 rule. Parents often seem to spend endless hours looking for the illusive medication, nutrition plan, supplement and/or therapy that will be the magic “fix.” While there are some amazing stories of sudden forward improvement, the best solution for your child is YOU and connecting with YOU (the parents or primary caregiver). Take advantage of the resources that you have (whatever they may be), but don’t despair if there does not seem to be a qualified therapist within driving distance or you can’t afford the medication. Don’t sacrifice connection time chasing after the holy grail of treatment by spending your life running from one appointment to another. At least 80% of the solution is in being in healthy relationship.
- It’s us and our children against the trauma, not us against them. Our children are not the problem. We may not consciously think that, but sometimes the way we go after solutions makes our children feel like the problem. If our children had cancer, we would not make them feel like it was their fault when they lost their hair to chemo. Because our children’s symptoms are behavior, it’s easy to forget that behavior is the symptom of their trauma.
- The real issue is never what it seems. Memory is a funny thing. The tantrum may seem like an issue over what you made for breakfast, but your child may have been emotionally fragile anyway because he was worrying over a horrifying dream he relives every night but never told you about. Take the time to get to the deeper issue.
- Healing isn’t linear. Just because you had 6 months meltdown free, does not necessarily mean you won’t regress into a couple months or weeks of trauma drama. Think about healing as circular or cyclical. Expect steps forward followed by steps backward, and hopefully the backwards ones won’t be so devastating.
- Seeing improvement will take longer than you think. We’re in for a marathon, not a sprint. Connection principles work, but they take months and years to heal. Be willing to be consistent even without seeing results. Think about something you absolutely know in your core to be true. Now, imagine how long it would take someone to convince you otherwise. Our children often believe in their very core that they are unloveable and unwanted. They are as convinced as you are that they’re wrong. We can’t undo that paradigm with just a couple months (or even just a couple years) of positive interactions. Remember, marathon, not sprint.
What else do you find you need to remind yourself periodically (or daily)?