After four days of readjusting to home life, my youngest decides it’s important to throw out her old habits on my wife and I. She apparently was upset about some event that happened yesterday and has been in a bad mood ever since. Displaying many of the key behaviors that have been habitual since her appearance in our lives: screaming, stomping, cursing, hitting walls and doors and crying spells in between. She “didn’t know” why she was displaying this behavior.
We didn’t take it personally again- but we are letting her know in no uncertain terms what is acceptable and not acceptable in this home. We are a place of safety and security. She can be mad- she can be angry- she can be frustrated- but she can’t be violent towards herself and other members of the family.
We knew that when she would get comfortable again with the routine of the household, these behaviors would come again. It’s sort of like a test- you’ve seen the good side of me, the compliant side- now let’s see if you are really going to stick around as I show my bad side, or if you are going to ship me off to another placement like I fear.
We let her know through this all that we are in control when she’s not. Which is a shame, because as she’s closing in on her teenage years I want her to gain more independence and ability to take over decision making. Yet I can’t do it when she can’t keep herself safe from her trauma. I hope that she is able to process whatever area she seems to be stuck in now. I want her to develop a new way of thinking and being, because I know that in order for a new habit to take shape she’s going to have to consistently repeat and believe in that behavior for a minimum of 21 days. Probably longer in her case for the muscle memory to stick, because for over a decade the tantrums win as her coping mechanism.
RAD wants to win- and my wife and I aren’t going to let it happen. She can throw all the hurtful words out there, and we can respond with patience and love. She needs to know we aren’t giving up on her. She can’t give up on herself. She needs to believe that she’s a worthwhile person and that her feelings are valuable. She needs to know that people are trustworthy and can help her safely in her times of crisis.
The emotions stir every time she starts spinning out of control. I’m thankful that we give her every opportunity to use her therapy skills to regain focus and work with us. Let’s hope that today becomes a better day as a result. It’s a good thing that we’ve had a little time to be able to regain our composure and face this issues with the parenting skills we have. Commitment to these children is a moment to moment process. They feed off of protecting themselves- and counting on you to throw in the towel.
That’s not our job. That’s not what we set out to do. We want to make their lives better, and whether they like it or not we want to show them that when it’s worthwhile, you commit for life.