We openly admit that we are a work in progress here in loo loo land but what has worked the best is to take the wind out of the little liar’s sails. The cookie example that Cory mentioned I have learned not to say "did you?" or "why did you?" the evidence is obvious and since the kid thinks that they will push my buttons by having taken the cookie I might say, "If you want a cookie sweetie just let Mom know." And then I'd hand the child a cookie with a big smile and walk away. Totally throws her off balance and there is no crazy lying because there was no chance to lie. At the same time I acknowledge that I am aware of the offense. That is not how I would handle the situation with my typical children.
With stealing I would go through her room while she was out of the house and whatever I found that did not belong to her I would lay on her bed. When she came in she saw that I had found x y and z. Once I knew she had seen the things on her bed I would put them away where they belonged. It took the feeling control out of stealing, I guess. I don't know but it worked.
Since so much of the RAD stuff is about feeling in control I kind of go in through the back door so to speak and try to take the control out of it that way, for a typical kid that would not work. With children with RAD nothing improves until we can get into their hearts and start attaching. It's a different game plan.
For my little one there is no consequence in the world that is going to get into her head right and wrong. What was I going to take away when she didn't care about anything?
What she does want is attention and she is tickled pink with negative attention so we had to relearn that too. This is where the CBA has been particularly helpful.
We do work on teaching our kids to be responsible. For instance the person that poops their pants gets the pleasure of scrubbing those poopy pants. We even have a special little brush dedicated to the activity.
When a person gets the dropsies and spills their drink every 2 minutes it's not a problem because they get to clean up the spilt drink and the next go will simply be water so that clean up is a breeze. They also get to take as long as they feel they need to to get said spill cleaned up. No rush. If we need a big ugly tantrum first that's okay and when we are all done tantruming we get to clean up the mess. Love those opportunities for learning!
I have heard other Mom’s say this and it really is what I found to be true, for my child with RAD it isn’t about the consequence it’s about her attaching to me and developing that natural parent child relationship where she the child has a desire to make Mom happy with her. Until that begins to happen (at least for us) it became more about damage control and being responsible for our actions. Natural consequences work best for her too.
For instance a certain little lady likes to wear dressy shoes when she goes out. They are not good for walking in and will in nothing flat start hurting her feet. Now I can state all this and say no and I have. One guess as to how well that works with a kid who will tantrum and rage at the drop of a hat. Instead I say, “Sure you can wear those shoes. Let’s bring your sneakers and socks in case your feet hurt later.” She does not like to bring the sneakers but she will. Now she rarely puts the sneakers on but there is no complaining and drama routine about sore feet because I have already insured that she brings the comfy shoes with her.
There was a time when honestly I resented that stuff. Why should I have to go about this way? I am the Mom I know best the shoes are going to hurt her feet so just wear the appropriate shoe from the start. But for my little one she doesn’t learn that way. It simply becomes a battle of me against her and who’s going to win this challenge and that does not promote an unattached child to attach.
So I counted up my prison sentence and decided to make the best of it. She turns 18 in the year 2021. On bad days I have a little song I sing in my head, “In 20 21 I’ll be done!” Hey it gets me through.
She didn’t have to like me or love me. I realized that her best option was to have small doses of me and for me to focus on gobbing on positive attention in those moments. This is when she started attending the after care program at school. She gets home around 5:30 and from then until bedtime I devote as much of my attention to her as is possible. I feed her dinner and give her a bath. We do her homework together and when she pulls the RAD stuff I just ignore what I can and continue positive attention where I can. If it is becoming a power struggle I put it away and we work on it again the next night. What we cannot finish we do over the weekend and her teacher is aware of why and is supportive of the work being turned in the following Monday. It is rare now that we do not get it all done during the week.
In reality my little one learned a lot of things before she became mine. She learned that big people will hurt you, that you can cry for a long time and no one is going to help you, if you want food you need to find it on your own, that others will be feed and you will not be feed, and most importantly trust no one because they will hurt you and they will disappoint you.
So when she wants to play the - I can’t buckle my seat belt game at almost 7, I play along. “No problem babe, that’s what Mom’s are for. Moms help their kids, there you go!” Same for the - I can’t zip this zipper game. I just look at it as time to make up for all the times she was left with no one helping her when they should have. It used to drive me nuts because it is so obviously deliberate and untrue. The child could feed herself soup at 2 and not spill a drop. Not a drop. She can certainly get the darn buckle done and the zippers zipped. But it isn’t about that.
The other day we were out and about and this creepy man was going on and on about how pretty Miss M is. It used to be that she would have really played into that and ate up the attention and poured on the charm. But this time she did what she should do, she grabbed Mom’s hand and kind of scooted behind me. She knew two things – he made her feel uncomfortable and Mom was there to keep her safe.
I don’t think there is any one right way to help traumatized kids. They are all individuals and I am sure some of what works for Miss M would not work for another child. But I think the key is to focus on how to get into their hearts, until that happens it's a losing battle.