Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Attachment Part 1

I haven’t spoken all that much about attachment here on the blog. Partly because we are blessed in that we really don’t have many attachment issues and partly because when I began this blog Braeden and Olivia had already been living in my home for a while. The real heavy part of attachment, when you don’t have a child who tests that attachment constantly (think RAD), tends to come in the first month or so of a child living with you from what I’ve seen. I’ve talked a lot about attachment regarding a little one who lived with us for a year and on occasion regarding Olivia.

Olivia does NOT have RAD, so please don’t misunderstand that. But, as she came to live with me at age 3 ½ and as I was her third home in such a short amount of her young life, she DOES have SOME attachment ISSUES. I’ve seen these and spoke on some of them over the years as I’ve learned more and have processed more.


Foster care and adoption forces you as a parent to walk such a fine line regarding children’s behavior. When something out of the “norm” arises, you begin to question or wonder, “Is that from past trauma?” “Is that from being in foster care?” “Is that a normal, age-appropriate behavior?” “Is that something I’ve created by my horrible parenting?” (LOL, not really but you get the idea.) At times it’s worthwhile to “know” where these behaviors could be coming from, or what they’re rooted in, so that you can work on those past traumas or hurts and help the child move on. And at other times, does it really matter how they got to this point, to this behavior? It’s here and we need to work on how to change it to good.

All of that said, there are a few things with Olivia that we’ve seen over the past year or two that have seemed to become worse as time goes on. One is that she is constantly, and I do mean constantly, “forgetting” everyday things. Things from routine, to where something goes, to how we “do” things in our home. Constantly. She acts as though I’ve never told her to do XYZ and looks at me and often acts as though I’m saying it now and trying to basically get her into trouble. I’ve never told her to…. Brush her teeth before school (for example)… so how dare I then correct her for not doing it one day. It doesn’t sound like much, but when this goes on repeatedly not just over the course of a week, but over the course of a day, it is aggravating at best.

Another thing we’ve seen a lot of is “nonsense” questions. Asking something that I know for a fact she already knows the answer to. I’ve seen many kids do this, but they’ve been young kids, not nine year olds. Sometimes I see that she is asking a question about the “right” way to do something because one of her brothers just did the opposite and she is basically getting them into trouble through her question. Other times she is asking me about something she just overheard me talking about on the phone or with a friend and she now wants me to orally acknowledge to her what she already heard. And then sometimes she is just asking, even though she KNOWS the answer. She could be asking what color so and so’s car is, when she can see perfectly well as it’s right in front of us.

And the third thing we’ve worked on over the years is lying. I know lying is common to many children, and have been repeatedly told this when I’ve brought it up to others. But Olivia will outright lie about things that aren’t based in consequences if she told the truth; though of course she’ll lie about those too. She will even lie when she HAS to know she’s caught. When I adamantly tell her, not asking, what it was she did. She will lie when her teacher comes to tell me something, I literally turn around and walk ten feet to Olivia and ask her about it. And when I repeatedly tell her that Mrs. *** just told me XYZ, she will still lie until I walk her down to her class and repeat what Olivia said to her teacher.


I’ve been dealing with each of these, just as part of parenting Olivia, and working on not getting into battles over them, especially the first two. They just really get under my skin and I find myself so upset over them multiple times. I get “pulled in” and emotional and then we’ve both “lost.” It’s something I’ve worked on, believe me. ☺ And I’m sure it’s a never-ending process for me.

But the other day I happened upon this one you*tube video creator. She’s a mom of both bio and adopted kids and has learned much about RAD over the years. She does some great videos about parenting kids with attachment issues and I loved watching them! While some don’t apply in our case, and some may be at a different level, a couple of them really surprised me. She had a video on Acting Dumb, and a video on Nonsense Questions. Wow! You could have bowled me over with a feather! And when I watched them it was like getting a glimpse into a parallel universe! If these issues in Olivia were coming from a place of attachment, that would make SO much SENSE!


There are many times when "little" things become HUGE and have turned into a battle for her control over the situation. But I, as a mom and a teacher, just can't let her "win", right, yea that's the trap I fall into. It's really NOT about winning. It's about her heart and helping it to heal the best way possible, while still being the parent.

So the other night when she had a time out during dinner and went in to sit on her bed and then proceeded to rock the bed so that it made LOTS of noise just for our benefit (it can be extremely squeaky). I took a deep breath and thought about what I had watched. And then proceeded to do the following. I went quickly into Olivia’s room and said, “Oh, honey, I hear that noise your bed is making. I am so afraid it’s going to break and I do not want you to get hurt. I need you to sit here on the floor instead. I’m so sorry it’s making so much noise, I just don’t know what the problem is, I hope you’re ok.” And she just stared at me like I was from another planet. She said quietly, “No, it’s just me.” But I said, “Oh no, I hear that noise, that bed is so loud. I don’t want you hurt, here, I need you to sit on the floor.” And it all happened so quickly that she sat on the floor for the rest of her time. I was calm. And something that could have become a huge control battle for her was diffused incredibly quickly!

Last night and this morning Olivia and I had some great conversations about attachment and hurt. More soon…

3 comments:

Hi, I'm pretty sure I'm a new commentor - but I've been reading for a little while now. But, I wanted to let you know that Christine Moers has an awesome blog as well! www.welcometomybrain.net. She's a fantastic parent of children with trauma and attachement issues. Check her out! :)

Leslie said...

I get the nonsense questions and forgetting too, but still haven't figured out if it is an ongoing language issue, learning disability, or HIV related. We're getting more neuropsyc testing next week, which hopefully will be more helpful than what we got done before. It is hard to figure out where these behaviors are coming from sometimes.

Diane said...

Awesome videos. Thanks for sharing!

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I am a single mom to four amazing kids; each of whom just happen to have been adopted. The first three were adopted through foster care, and we just completed an international adoption from Haiti. Our family has grown through adoption and I am all the more blessed to know each of my children. I worship a mighty God, teach Special Ed, love bargains, and am inspired by Pinterest... come along with us for the ride!


Olivia - 14

Olivia - 14

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Braeden - 11

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