Discipline is Not One Size Fits All: Disciplining the Trauma-Touched Child

Discipline is Not One Size Fits All: Disciplining the Trauma-Touched Child
Hello friends. Tough topic tonight. 
Discipline. Remember before you were a Mom, and you swore your child would never pitch the fit to end all fits in the middle of the Wally World (Southern for Walmart)?
Remember after you had kids and you ate those words for breakfast? A thousand times over?
Remember when you had your own children, and realized that every child is different? Even biological siblings?
My oldest daughter was a handful from the time she entered by womb. Yes, you read that right. ENTERED. She made me sick as a dog, LOSE weight while I was pregnant (and this is when I was 20 years younger and weighed 40 pounds less), and then was STILL born weighing almost 9 pounds. She took cat naps as a newborn. She had to be, not just held, but BOUNCED continually or she would SCREAM. Until she crawled, she was mad at the world for not being able to move on her own. And after she crawled, she went almost straight to walking (at 8.5 months and not even on the growth chart), and she continued to be a tasmanian devil until she was about 12 years old...then started over again when she was 15. HAHAHA (She's a pretty good 19 year old now...and we are very proud of her :))
And then we had her brother, and he slept all night beginning at age 4 weeks (granted he was 10.5 pounds at birth and looked like a 4 month old at 4 weeks, but...).
Kyra (my oldest) was never fazed by discipline. We even spanked her a few times out of desperation, and it fazed her even less. We finally figured out that removing her from the situation and placing her AWAY from the attention she was seeking was the ONLY thing that affected her even remotely. Isaac, on the other hand, reacted to a simple 'no' more often than not.
Do I love one of these very different children more? Of course not. Do I wonder if I did something to cause Kyra to be such a difficult small child? Sometimes. She was my first. The guinea pig. I think I was anxious around her. I wonder if she sensed that. She has always been an extremely intelligent child. But mostly, I just think they are very different people. Kyra, if I'm being honest with myself, is a mini-me. Stubborn and strong willed. Isaac, without a doubt, is a clone of his father. Laid back and sensitive. A puppy dog.

Fast forward a few years. We go to China to adopt a little girl who has been in a horrible orphanage for the first two years of her life. We name her Adelina (Ada) Rose. Born underweight (probably a preemie) and abandoned, then neglected. We are told in China that they will 'get us a better baby'. We tell them, simply, 'she is our daughter'. We are told, when we return home with her, that she is severely autistic and that it is highly probably that she will never walk or talk.  We are scared, but we love her and don't hesitate to start working to find the best therapists we can find for her. She starts to walk and talk eventually, around age 4. She still shows signs up Autism, but she is coming out of her shell she has created to protect herself, slowly but surely.
Ada is very literal. She needs literal discipline. She needs to be told, point blank, when she is not to do something. She actually thrives on rules. She tends to hide things from us and to lie if given the opportunity, which may seem opposite of literal, but it is what it is. I believe it is all about control. She also refuses to eat 95% of food that most 14 year olds will eat. Fast out refuses. She ate baby food until age 4-5. Again, control, I believe.  So, what do you do with that? Do you give her the control? Do you let her sit at the table with her broccoli for 2 hours until she eats one piece (because believe me, some days she will)? Or do you give in and let her eat as she wishes? Honestly, it depends on the day. Our house rule is that if you don't eat dinner, you get no dessert or snacks. So, that is what rules over all. Does she have to eat her broccoli floweret? Some nights, yes. Others, no. #chooseyourbattles
My point here? We have been judged either way! If I make her eat, I'm mean. If I let her make the food rules, I'm a push over and I'm causing her to be unhealthy. Does the average Mom who is judging me know what we've been through with Ada and eating? Have they had a 4 year old spit baby food at them? Probably NOT. Have they been to feeding therapy 5 days a week for 3 years? Most likely NOT. Do they know what it's like to know your child was abandoned, then neglected, and is now the 'different' kid at school? Most of them, NO.
Next we have Miss Nora. She was adopted at age 3 1/2, and had been through more than most adults have by that time in her life. She spent 10 months in a Chinese hospital. Now, I don't know if you've ever been inside of a Chinese hospital...but it's definitely not a place I would like to spend 10 hours, much less 10 months in! We have no idea what she endured or saw in those 10 months. We do know that she almost died. We do know that even her caregivers at her Foster Home had all but given up on her living. And we do know that she amazed them all and survived and thrived until we came to get her a year later!
Once we got Nora home, we knew she was going to have attachment issues. She started showing signs of this early on, and we didn't even realize what we were experiencing for a couple of years. The first two years we had her were spent preparing for and anticipating her major heart surgery. We always contributed her behavior and attitude to her low oxygen concentrations. Then when she was 5, she had her surgery, and we excused her behavior as surgery recovery and anesthesia syndrome. About a year after her surgery, I was watching a random Facebook video, and in the first 2 minutes, I started sobbing. The video was shared by a friend, and it was about RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). They described a chid with RAD as 'constantly being focused on creating CHAOS in their home'. I had never heard a better description of Nora in my life! As they went on to describe what the parents of RAD children face every day, and how they should react...I began to sob. THIS is what Nora had. And the description of why was SPOT ON. These children are AFRAID of attaching themselves emotionally to their primary caregiver. They have been abandoned by so many of these people in their short lives that they have learned to instinctively distance themselves emotionally from these primary people in their lives. :( And they don't even realize that they are doing it. They push these people ( usually their mother) away with their actions and words.
Nora would say things to me like "I hate this family. I never asked for a Mother. I want to go back to China" All it would take is me asking her nicely to stop hitting her sister. She would lose it. Once, when I was putting her to bed and we had read a Bible story, said our prayers, hugged and kissed etc with no issues, she looked at me, very calmly, with a smile on her face, and said, very matter of factly "Mom, I hope you go to bed and go to sleep and never wake up. I hope I never see you again and you die." :(
And yet, she would go to church and Sunday School and act like her Sunday School teacher was her best friend. And never say anything but words kindness and adoration to these women. Stings. Hard.
What do you do with that? If you are a mother, you know how that hurts. Deeply.
So, disciplining these children who have been hurt...how do you do it? It's not easy. And I have failed over and over. But, eventually, we have, for the most part, figured out a system that works for all of our children.
Nora needs a strict parent. If not, her chaos yearning wins out, and everyone in the house suffers. We can't survive that way. We've tried it. She has to be told, very firmly, what she can and can't do. And she has to be offered consequences in most cases. And very often those consequences have to be given, because she doesn't listen the first time.
What does this sound like to an outsider from our family when it is happening? Possibly not so good to someone who isn't used to parenting a child with RAD., because they don't understand what keeps Nora focused and out of her 'bad head'. They don't know what a melt down can look like if her 'mood' isn't tamed.  

Why do I write about these things? Because I know others want to understand. I also know that some mothers DO understand and need affirmation that they are doing OK. Do I mess up? Do I sometimes (OK, some days A LOT) lose my temper and yell or say things I shouldn't ? Yep. But, do I always love my daughter and want what's best for her? Also, YES. And do I apologize after I lose my cool? YES. Almost always. And then go cry in my room a lot of times. Which is OK too.
Why else do I write these things? Because we have found so many tools to use with our girls and their emotions since we discovered essential oils. I want to share these tools with you because I KNOW it is tough.
Can I tell you how much better it feels to say 'Nora, if you can't calm down, we're going have to go in the bathroom and use some oils' than it does to say 'Nora, do you want to go to the bathroom and get a spanking?' when she's having a meltdown in a restaurant or at church? SO much better. And SO much more effective, SO much more,  And she sees it as me caring for her and not ridiculing her (most days haha). She is slowly learning that I am here to stay and to help her, and it is SO much better than it was a few years ago...and continues to get better every day!
I would be thrilled to share the way we use oils with you if you think it might help you in your parenting adventure!

Please share your tips for calming emotions. Or for feeding issues. Or anything that you think might help us Moms out there.
And also, please know that you are doing OK. None of us have all the answers. None of us are perfect parents. We're all just doing our best to love our kids while raising them to be adults who don't melt down over the seat they get at Chili's. ;)
Also, always feel free to message me or share how we can be praying for you!


Welcome to the Corrigan Clan Crazy, Beautiful Mess

Welcome to the Corrigan Clan Crazy, Beautiful Mess
Welcome, and join us as we walk through the beautiful...and the ugly...parts of an adoptive family's (crazy) daily life.