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Can an (relatively) older child be AP'ed?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 

Just curious what experience others have had.
In our experience it is very ineffective to parent AP style with children who are walking/talking.
We start with our usual gentle parenting, but until it escalates to a firm NO! - the child will not react (think of things like: stay this far from the woodstove, we leave chairs at the table, etc).

AP is effective when a relationship between a child and parent has been built on trust. However, if a child has learned (through horrible experience) that grownups are not trustworthy, it makes sense to me that they would not listen to gentle reminders, etc.
How do you get a kid who has been parented abusively and/or severely neglected transitioning to a place of hope, trust, gentleness, etc.

This has been whirling around in my head. Would love other experienced foster-parents thoughts.

post #2 of 4

My husband and I took in a 15 month and 4.5 year old 9 months ago.  These were our first (please let tomorrow's termination hearing go justly for these boys) and hopefully our last.  The 4.5 year had been in four other foster homes and was told by the last one he was going to be adopted.  You might imagine he was a pretty angry little boy.   There is a piece of my heart that will NEVER recover from hearing him say, "I'm just a piece of garbage, you should throw me out"  We went to seminars, read books, talked to anybody that would listen and then we found CONSCIOUS DISCIPLINE.  We took a two day training - intended for preschool teachers.  It's awesome and it works.  FC kids needs their emotions validated and FP need to be as gentle as possible with these cherubs.  It takes practice like everything else and we slip up if we think the kids are in immediate danger  (if our boys got to close to a wood stove I would likely panic yell).  The best part is that we have started teaching the baby to breath (a big calm down technique).  My daycare was so impressed when each morning when my little guy isn't ready for me to leave him, we breath together.  Three breaths later I'm out the door and he's happy!  I'm not sure if I could have learned this by reading a book or looking at their website. 

 

We also learned an idea from a VERY EXPERIENCED FP where she just gave the kid the answer.  So when my (now 5 year old) doesn't want to go up stairs to get dressed for bed and is giving me a dirty look.  I say, "Sure, Mom, I'm ready to go upstairs and get dressed because I know you'll ready me stories in bed".  At first he thought I was nuts, but after a week or two at dinner he said, "Sure Mom, I'll eat my vegetables because I know the make me healthy."  something I said a million times.  The 5 yr old gets a real kick out of trying to imitate my super cheerful-over-the-top voice!

 

It still takes time to gain their trust, maybe as much time as they spend in a negative environment.   I know we don't have it completely yet, but the progress we've made in the past 9 months has been amazing.  I hope this helps.

post #3 of 4

Attachment Parenting is a way to GET to trust for children that have not been able to build it. That said, we have to be sensitive and practice attunement with children who have been hurt; they may not be ready for a full on attachment approach. They need to warm up slowly. 

 

There are many excellent resources on this topic, parenting adoptive and foster children with attachment focused principles in mind. Have you checked out the Resource sticky on the top of this forum? 

post #4 of 4
Thread Starter 

I'll look again at the resources - thanks for the reminder. I looked through them during our last foster placement, but the needs of our new placement are different (and EASIER by far).

We currently have a 2.5 year old and 9mos old and we've had them about 6 weeks.
The 2 year old is doing what (I think) is typical for a 2 year old - when people talk about the terrible 2's.We just never had that with our older two who we birthed (so we're ap'ed from birth). So what do you do when a kid throws a tantrum? Grabs a toy (repeatedly!) from someone else? Is angry at the limit set and goes and does something else they've been told is not okay? How do you respond to a kid saying: "NO!"

Last night our 5.5 year old's bracelet broke and beads went everywhere (during dinner-making). So I picked up the baby and our 5.5 year old was picking up all the beads she could find. I noticed our 2.5 year old had something in her mouth.
"D? Is that a bead in your mouth?" I really wasn't sure at first.
"NOOOO!" she yelled and ran from me. I grabbed her arm and fished out the bead. Then explained to her that it wasn't safe.
But she wasn't listening, she was crying.
K, we'll talk about it later - it's hard to gather new info/learn when you are in distress.
I asked if she wanted to go outside and do chores (which she loves!).
I put her on my back and off we went. I tried to explain about why I was so scared when I saw a bead in her mouth - she spent the whole time saying: "COW! PIG!" I think in a: "Look, shiny thing!" kind of way. lol.

Part of it is language issues - I think she has trouble comprehending and articulating - due to lack of practice/exposure.
So when we say: "Do you want milk or water?" She'll say: "water" We'll say: "Water?" She'll confirm: "WATER!" excitedly. So we go to get water. Bring it to her and she freaks out and dumps it.
So we get a towel and pick it up and say: "Did you want milk?" And she responds: "MILK!" enthusiastically.

When she's holding something she shouldn't (say a marker that has been left out) and we say: "Oh! D, please give me the marker." She'll hold it tightly to her body and try to run off.

I really think this is a trust/respect thing - and rightly so, given her experience with grownups.

Cinco - did termination go through?
I will look up conscious discipline. Hoping a training is an option but we live in rural rural so often resources are limited (there is only one RAD therapist for HOURS, for example).

We definitely give kids the words we want back, like when they say: MILK! we say: "I'd like some milk mommy .... okay, let me get you some."

I had heard that kids need the same amount of time OUT of their original home that caused the damage before seeing a big turn around. So your 4.5 year old may be 9 before feeling better. It's a long road, for sure. But all parenting is.

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