Thanks to the Adoption Social there has been much talk about child to parent violence (CVP) this week. Although I had heard about it I haven't really come into real contact with it or probably even realised the exhausting effect it has on those affected by it.
I wouldn't say that we have experienced anything like the agression some families suffer. Our child 4 has occasional and sometimes not so occasional bursts of fury. He is 3 and has the strength when full of rage to throw a chair, even when tantruming he can aim his fork, cup of milk, toy car or trains at who he feels is the perpetrator of his anguish and hit them with it, usually slap bang in the middle of a forehead, leaving bruises and bumps. These rages have concerned me enough to contact our social worker to find out about training for restraining him, it won't be long and I won't be able to manage as I have been, because he will be too strong. She suggested to try wrapping him in a duvet for the short term as that will protect him and the restrainer for now and she would look into courses, they exist but there is a definite resistance about wanting parents to learn these methods.
To me is seems that a lot of the issue about CVP seems to be a lack of understanding from the outside world and a not wanting to believe that it is happening by those who should know better. You only have to read the Twitter responses to programmes like My Violent Child and Born Naughty? to see so many people full of judgement about how a family deals with behaviour issues of their children. Parenting is never easy,but for those of us dealing with traumatised children it is even more complicated.
For us we started down this adoption road armed with books about attachment theory, knowledge learned at therapeutic parenting courses providing us with some expertise about why traumatised children behave the way they do, however there is a definite lack in exactly how to deal with those behaviours. Therapeutic parenting is definitely the way forward but most of us struggle with it and often have to stop and think about how to deal with a new behaviour in a therapeutic way as it is not natural. I doubt many of us were raised therapeutically so we are constantly thinking on our feet, not ideal when sometimes you feel like you are living in a war zone. There is no time to stop and think when a metal toy is flying through the air at you!
My understanding is, that so much of the care for traumatised children is still in its infancy, we have a much better understanding of why but there just hasn't been the research into what to do or what works. This means that when we look for support, firstly we have to find someone who believes us and then we do, we realise that that either the support doesn't exist, isn't available in our area or there is no funding. It is so hard to talk about the behaviours in the first place so to have people not believe us or to offer us worthless advice or inappropriate comparisons to their child's behaviour means that often we hide away trying to deal with it on our own and that helps no one least of the child that is the centre of the situation.
I have found that I have had to be massively proactive with ensuring support and understanding for child 4 and his siblings, so I follow fellow adopters, educational psychologists, adoption groups and similar support groups on Twitter (the place where every day someone tweets-have you seen/read/watched or tried this) I learned about The Yellow Kite and Louise Bomber, Braveheart Education and was introduced by Al Coates To WASO, The Adoption Social all via Twitter. I read as much as I can - Dan Hughes, Sally Donovan, Educating Ruby and Helen Bonnick. I involve myself in anything to do with attachment and am lucky enough to be attending the Attachment and Trauma Aware Schools Conference at Bath Spa University next month.
The hardest thing I have to do though is talk about my concerns and talk about them without becoming emotional. I have to educate family, friends, schools and clubs and that is really hard, there are those I don't bother with but those who are willing to listen and at least believe the difficulties we face, I share what I can and I listen to their responses, sometimes they are right!!
Following all the discussions this week I will take on board, wade through, learn form all those who have experienced parenting adopted children and use that to parent my children, hopefully by learning from their successes and failures we will be able to help child 4 manage his anger better and so prevent escalations in the future. I will sign up for Theraplay - I am really lucky our adoption social worker is studying Theraplay and needs a "guinea pig" for her training and has asked if child 4 and I will take part. YES a free intro to Theraplay. A friend has found a yoga class specifically for adopted children and their parents to help with attachment and teach strategies to self regulate I am booked in for the next batch of sessions and another friend has emailed details about a local forest school for under 5's with tree climbing, tyre swings, fire pits and bread ovens. All perfect for child 4. Maybe, just maybe we can prevent our child reverting to survival mode when he is scared or anxious or maybe we will be able to provide strategies to help him contain his anger so that is doesn't escalate into a full blown, uncontrollable whirl wind. I don't know if all the pre-empting will help, what I do know is that there is a lot more support especially via social media now, more than ever before so I will always have someone to talk/tweet too. Which is much more than adopters before me.
If anyone out there is struggling please ask for help, WASO -the adoption social have been collating stacks of support info it's all on their site. We are out there and we can at least be on the end of a Twitter feed.
The Yellow Kite
The adoption social