foster parents in need of help with four year old foster child - Mothering Forums

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Old 06-03-2012, 02:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My husband and I have been fostering for about 15 months now. We foster children between the ages of 0-6. We have had four foster children so far, who were babies. About a month ago we got a call asking if we would be willing to take in a four year old boy, and of course we agreed. He has expierienced alot of emotional trauma, and suffered some physical abuse. We take him to supervised visitations with his biological mother and her parents every two weeks as ordered by court. The problem is we have caught him on multiple occasions digging at his face, biting his leggs, pinching himself. He is in counseling three times a week, but the councelor has said nothing about concerning behavior, he pretty much looks at my husband and I like we are the ones who belong in his office, not our foster child. He tells us all the time that he doesn't like us, that he doesn't want to live here, hurts himself, and I am lost. I foster because I have a medical condition that makes me infertile, I have been around children and babies my whole life, but I have never seen a child act this way. He gets mad and throws just rampages kicking things, throwing things, refuses to sit in time out, tells us he would rather (and yes my jaw hit the floor when he said this to me also) "I don't like time out my mommy just beats my ass" He wakes up in the morning and pees all over the couch, the floors, anything! When I ask him why he did it, to try to see if maybe he is just feeling upset or anything that I can talk him through and try to help all he says in return is, "I did it on purpose". Counceling is just not doing it for him, I don't know what else I can do. Giving up is not an option I turn no child away, but I am concerned that his temper could harm another child, (I babysit also) himself worse than he has, or even my dog. What else can I do? We have been loving, caring, and very open with him about anything he needs to know. He does often ask why he can't be with his mommy, but I just tell him that mommy is working on some grown up things to make it safe for him there. Even though I feel awful because I feel like I lied to him because I honestly don't know how hard she is working on improving things.Sorry this is so long tried to give as much background information and information on what is going on. Any advice would be very deeply appreciated from the bottom of our hearts.

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Old 06-03-2012, 06:05 PM
 
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1.  It might be really helpful to read Parenting the Hurt Child by Keck. http://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Hurt-Child-Adoptive-Families/dp/1576833143

 

2.  Try to get a different therapist.  Look for an ATTACHMENT THERAPIST.  Any therapist that thinks you are the problem is going to be useless, at best.  Kids like yours are very manipulative, and they need a therapist that understands what is going on.

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Old 06-03-2012, 09:10 PM
 
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 Hugs to you!  That sounds so hard greensad.gif The part part I highlighted really caught my attention.  It is very similar to my experience.  Every therapist my daughter had blamed us until we found someone who specialized in trauma.  I would suggest this book.  It changed everything for us.  Sadly no silver bullet answers, but it helped to know that trauma produces these symptoms and there is help.

 

http://www.amazon.com/Building-Bonds-Attachment-Awakening-Troubled/dp/0765704048/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1236642827&sr=8-1

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 He is in counseling three times a week, but the councelor has said nothing about concerning behavior, he pretty much looks at my husband and I like we are the ones who belong in his office, not our foster child.

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Old 06-03-2012, 10:55 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I just had the biggest scare of my life. I woke up at 12:35am to pee, and foster child was not in his bed. I looked all over my house for him for about 25 minutes. The longest 25 minutes of my life. Only to find him hiding in one of my kitchen cupboards that are really close to the floor, sneaking and eating three pudding cups. Yes I am happy he is fine and safe but that is not my point. I looked for him frantically and was panicing thinking oh my god how do you lose a child in the middle of the night. With all the stories in news headlines about children being abducted in the middle of the night right out of thier beds, that's all I could think of. I am still shaking and its almost 1 am. Wow, I have never been scared like that in my life. That was just absolutely horrible.

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Old 06-03-2012, 10:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The being very manipulative part is what scares me the most. If we can't get control of it now, we are speaking with caseworker about possibly adopting if it is in the cards for us, then we are going to have alot more problems down the road as time goes on. Thank you I will definately order it today.

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1.  It might be really helpful to read Parenting the Hurt Child by Keck. http://www.amazon.com/Parenting-Hurt-Child-Adoptive-Families/dp/1576833143

 

2.  Try to get a different therapist.  Look for an ATTACHMENT THERAPIST.  Any therapist that thinks you are the problem is going to be useless, at best.  Kids like yours are very manipulative, and they need a therapist that understands what is going on.

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Old 06-03-2012, 11:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Something I forgot to add in the main beginning post, is that both my husband and I have caught him hurting himself. He digs his face open with some pretty nasty scratches, I have caught him biting his leg. I have seen this self harming behaviors in teenagers or  young adults that I have helped through it, but I have never seen anything like that in a four year old child. It makes me so sad to think that a four year old would feel he has to do that instead of talking to us. I am definately calling around to find a different councelor tomorrow morning.

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Old 06-04-2012, 07:23 AM
 
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I second the attachment therapist idea.  A friend of mine had a foster son who really benefited from one and he had a lot of the same behaviours (self harm, peeing all over, etc.).  He was still a handful (a lot was attributed to RAD and fetal alcohol syndrome) but with her dedication and the therapy he made improvement.


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Old 06-04-2012, 08:44 AM
 
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I just wanted to throw out a word of caution about attachment therapy, it can be a catch all for therapies.  Some are proven and researched based, some are not.  It has been my experience that looking for a trauma therapist is a better "term."  It weeds out the stuff that is not research based or just outright quakery.

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Old 06-04-2012, 01:06 PM
 
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My daughter and i recently started attachment therapy, we found our therapist through http://www.attachment.org/  but she does not take medicaid (which is what most foster children will have in terms of insurance) she is private pay only and only a part of the fees will be reimbursed through the medical adoption subsidy my daughter has. So if you do find an attachment therapist be sure to ask if they take medicaid, otherwise it will likely be too expensive to do.

 

I know you said you'd never give up on a child, but its also possible what this little boy needs is a treatment/therapeutic foster home where he will be either an only child or where there are only older children in the home. These kids can really bring chaos into the home and its not always fair to younger children to put them through experiencing that. Not giving up doesnt necessarily mean he stays with you, not giving up might mean finding him a more suitable placement. Just throwing that out there. The behaviors you are describing are not normal behaviors and at the very least you should get him certified at a higher foster care rate so that they will pay attention and give him the services he needs. Wasting time with a therapist who isnt any good (we wasted a couple of years on pointless talk therapy) will not help him.
 


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Old 06-04-2012, 03:35 PM
 
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Attachment Therapy is considered an unvalidated and inappropriate therapy by APSAC and the APA: http://depts.washington.edu/hcsats/PDF/AttachmentTaskForceAPSAC.pdf

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Old 06-04-2012, 08:58 PM
 
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Attachment Therapy is considered an unvalidated and inappropriate therapy by APSAC and the APA: http://depts.washington.edu/hcsats/PDF/AttachmentTaskForceAPSAC.pdf

 

 

ugh i hate when these 1 post posters reply and run.  Is there some way that whenever "attachment therapy" is posted on a board, those affiliated with "children in therapy" (the anti AT website) show up and respond??

 

Dude, seriously...you do not live with my child. She was in "regular" therapy for years, it does.not.help. She can do regular therapy in her sleep, she totally knows the drill...show up, play games, whatever. Nothing changes.

 

Attachment therapy isnt about holding a child down and making them scream to "rebirth" them...maybe thats what happened in the past, but that is not what is happening now, at least not with legitimate therapists. Our therapist is going to do things like EMDR which is quite helpful to children w/ trauma.

 

The most important part, or at least one very important part, is that the therapy will be my daughter and me TOGETHER....whereas more traditional therapy is often the child and therapist alone. THAT does not help build a bond with the parent. And even worse is when these kids can manipulate the therapist into thinking they are angels and its the PARENT with the problem.


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Old 06-05-2012, 08:40 AM
 
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Attachment Therapy is considered an unvalidated and inappropriate therapy by APSAC and the APA: http://depts.washington.edu/hcsats/PDF/AttachmentTaskForceAPSAC.pdf


You should read your own article because the Task Force does NOT say that attachment therapy is considered unvalidated and inappropriate.  They are specifically talking about "treatment techniques or attachment parenting techniques" that are abusive (withholding food/water, physical coercion and psychological/physical holding, etc) and "that portray young children in negative ways, including describing certain groups of young children as pervasively manipulative, cunning, or deceitful, are not conducive to good treatment and may promote abusive practices." 

 

These are fundamentalist views and techniques and they are NOT just specific to some highly unethical therapists' bastardization of attachment theory/therapy.  Such practices and views have been used since before attachment theory was even developed. 

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Old 06-05-2012, 08:51 AM
 
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The most important part, or at least one very important part, is that the therapy will be my daughter and me TOGETHER....whereas more traditional therapy is often the child and therapist alone. THAT does not help build a bond with the parent. And even worse is when these kids can manipulate the therapist into thinking they are angels and its the PARENT with the problem.

 

Children are a part of a system (the family) and the entire system needs to be a part of the treatment.  Nothing has been more powerful (and challenging) then when I have done family therapy versus child therapy.  Honestly, just working with the parents is far more therapeutic for the child than working with the child alone. 

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Old 06-05-2012, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The caseworker is helping us find an attachment therapist in our area and he is going to see what other services are available to our little one. I really hope he finds something. He has been very helpful so far so I am hoping he sticks to it. Other than that, everything is going as smoothly as it can I guess. He is now starting to shut down when we try to talk to him, he just sits or stands there with this little look on his face that says, "I'm mad, get away from me." We have tried so hard to get him to let us in. I don't know what else to try.

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Old 06-06-2012, 10:26 AM
 
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You could try napping or co-sleeping with him if you are allowed to and it doesn't seem to trigger sexual abuse issues.  Whenever my adopted son is feeling really insecure or I am feeling less bonded, we sleep together, and it really helps us.  My theory is that breathing each other's pheromones and having unconscious awareness of each other while sleeping helps bonding on a biochemical level.

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Old 06-07-2012, 10:18 AM
 
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It really sounds like such a challenging situation, I get the feeling you may be in a bit over your head. At the most extreme that could mean you need to find a new placement for the child, you are new to fostering so it may just be that he needs to be in a home with someone who has much more experience with his situation. That doesn't mean you failed, it means you did what was best for him by getting him the help he needs. I'm not saying you have to jump right to that, but you should know it is an option.

It sounds like first and foremost you need more support, especially a new therapist. I personally don't think you have to have an "attachment therapist" specifically, I would just shop around for someone you like and make sure who ever you chose has experience with the kind of trauma he has been through. It sounds like his current therapist is doing more harm then good at this point. Also, could you get some more support from the child's case worker? I know sometimes they aren't that helpful, but it is their job. They should always know what is going on and have experience with the issues you are dealing with. It sounds like there is such extreme trauma, this is going to be an intense and difficult road for you and him. I wish I had more advice but I really think the most important thing you can do for him is to seek more/better professional help.

 

 

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You could try napping or co-sleeping with him if you are allowed to and it doesn't seem to trigger sexual abuse issues.  Whenever my adopted son is feeling really insecure or I am feeling less bonded, we sleep together, and it really helps us. 

 

I've never heard of foster children being allowed to co-sleep, I would stay away from that because from what I've heard it could jeopardize you being a foster parent to future kids as well as him.

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Old 06-08-2012, 11:14 PM
 
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I actually attended an orientation last  night when someone asked about co-sleeping. Not acceptable on a permanent basis- children must have their own bed. However, it was suggested that lying down for a little while to calm them is okay in many circumstances (assuming no sexual abuse trauma).


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Old 06-08-2012, 11:14 PM
 
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I actually attended an orientation last  night when someone asked about co-sleeping. Not acceptable on a permanent basis- children must have their own bed. However, it was suggested that lying down for a little while to calm them is okay in many circumstances (assuming no sexual abuse trauma).


Mama to my twin butterfly boys, Alan and Bruce, who passed away at 22 weeks gestation (3/24/12): Forever in Our Hearts. Our rainbow baby girl, my little bud of Hope,  joined our butterfly boys and Grandma Jan 1/31/13 at 9 weeks gestation. Love you so much. Next step: triadadopt.jpg
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Old 06-09-2012, 01:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't know much about the kinds of trauma he has endured. The caseworker hasn't given much information. He did tell me that there was alot of physical violence. And that his biomom was given a week to clean what I consider normal daily stuff: Dishes, vacuuming, picking up toys, laundry, moping, sweeping, etc. And she couldn't do it. So from what I gathered the home was disgusting. He has opened up about his moms ex pushing on the back of his head really hard and smashing his face off of the wall repeatedly. That's about all he has said about it, not that what he did to this four year old boy isn't bad enough, but I would like to eventually help him open up more I feel that talking about things will help his behavior tremendously. There is a little girl I babysit who is three years old. Her parents just started potty training, (they waited until she could tell them when she has to go) but when she is sitting on her little potty, or getting a diaper change on days that she doesn't want the potty, his nose is literally right between her legs. The expression on his face and just the way that he stares at her makes me wonder about the possibility of sexual abuse. But I don't know how to approach the topic with him.

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I actually attended an orientation last  night when someone asked about co-sleeping. Not acceptable on a permanent basis- children must have their own bed. However, it was suggested that lying down for a little while to calm them is okay in many circumstances (assuming no sexual abuse trauma).

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Old 06-09-2012, 06:20 PM
 
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Here is a good article by Margaret Blaustein, originator of the ARC Model of treatment for trauma and attachment.
 

 

http://www.traumacenter.org/clients/Intertwining_Nature_of_Attachment_and_Trauma.pdf

 

As pumpkingirl suggested, attachment and trauma experiences are totally intertwined and usually have to be treated at the same time, but WITH the parents/caregivers for the best effectiveness.

 

I hope you can find some very good support soon!!!


 
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Old 06-18-2012, 11:30 AM
 
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I know in our state they encourage you to go to DCF and read the kids file, that could give you a little more info if you haven't done that. Also if you tell the case manager you think it would be helpful to know more maybe he could give you more info. 

 

At our DCF training they said that the majority of children in foster care have experience some degree of sexual abuse. One case manager said that she could only think of a few kids she had worked with who had not been sexually abused to some extent. Also keep in mind that it might be that he could have had adults around them that were not appropriate with their sexual behavior with each other, or he could have been exposed to porn, or to inappropriate sexual comments, things like that that you might not think of. It is so sad to think of but the sad reality is that there is a high likely-hood of sexual abuse, just statistically. You probably do this all ready but make sure that he is not alone with other kids even for a second, it is normal to be curious but make sure the other kid is safe and not feeling like her privacy is being invaded, actually I think I would keep him in another room when she is going potty/getting changed, just to be safe for her.

 

It sounds like you do have a good relationship with his case manager and again, a good case manager should really be able to help you with how to talk to him about these things, they should know how to bring up topics of sexual abuse as they are trained for it and have dealt with it many times before.  

 

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I don't know much about the kinds of trauma he has endured. The caseworker hasn't given much information. He did tell me that there was alot of physical violence. And that his biomom was given a week to clean what I consider normal daily stuff: Dishes, vacuuming, picking up toys, laundry, moping, sweeping, etc. And she couldn't do it. So from what I gathered the home was disgusting. He has opened up about his moms ex pushing on the back of his head really hard and smashing his face off of the wall repeatedly. That's about all he has said about it, not that what he did to this four year old boy isn't bad enough, but I would like to eventually help him open up more I feel that talking about things will help his behavior tremendously. There is a little girl I babysit who is three years old. Her parents just started potty training, (they waited until she could tell them when she has to go) but when she is sitting on her little potty, or getting a diaper change on days that she doesn't want the potty, his nose is literally right between her legs. The expression on his face and just the way that he stares at her makes me wonder about the possibility of sexual abuse. But I don't know how to approach the topic with him.

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Old 06-21-2012, 08:54 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Things have been going smoothly so far. Few minor issues here and there but that is what is expected. My husband and I have had my 3 year old niece for a week now. (No abandonment and this isn't permanent) My sister is sick and in hospital right now. My niece is terrified of the dark, so I have been leaving my bedroom door open at night for her, and for foster son in case they need anything. Last week things started heating up with the hubby and this awkward feeling like someone was staring at me hit me. So I looked up, and what do you know I have an audience, my foster son is standing in my doorway... didn't say a word, just went downstairs to use the bathroom. Of course my reaction was OMG! My hubby jumped up and ran downstairs, to see what he needed and I think get rid of his embarassment. Both of the children were sound asleep before all this just to clarify. I checked. Last night same thing happens to me again except foster son opened my bedroom door. I don't know what to make of this. We are human obviously not having sex until the end of time isn't an option I just don't know what else to do. There is only two nights a week that it is possible for us to have some alone time, because of his work schedule. I guess what I'm trying to ask is.. Well a few things more like it. Has this ever happened to anyone? How did you deal with it/bring up the issue? And how do I set the limits with him? I don't want him to feel like he can't let us/me know if he needs anything at any point in the night or day.

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Old 06-22-2012, 10:38 AM
 
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Get a bolt for your bedroom door, and lock it only when you need privacy with your husband. If there's a pattern of knocks at the door during "couple time," then you'll know it's being done on purpose and you'll have to figure out how to deal with that. If this was just a random  incident of bad timing, then you'll probably get your door knocked on infrequently or never. 

 

No sex with the bedroom door open, Mama. That's a bad idea for any family. 

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Old 06-22-2012, 08:02 PM
 
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I picked up on something you said about the three-year-old you babysit...please, please keep a very close eye on your foster son with this girl. Asking questions and showing age-appropriate interest in others' anatomy is one thing. You describe it as "having his nose" in her crotch during toileting and diaper changes.

 

Please do not subject other children in your family or in your care to trauma in order to "save" this one boy. He may need to be in an only-child scenario - and judging only by what you said, he needs near 24-7 intensive monitoring to prevent self-harm, food hoarding, potential elopement behaviors (hiding from you), and potential sexual predation. If you cannot absolutely, completely, 100% say that you have the resources to not only help this boy but ALSO keep your other charges safe, you need to go back to the agency who placed him and ask for an in home aide, or, to have the boy placed elsewhere.

 

It's not a question of failing the boy, or giving up, or "turning away" (your words) a child. You simply may not be the environment he needs. Difficult to accept, I know, but you may need to face that reality in order to protect your other children. Otherwise, the whole situation is going to turn into a snowballing problem of epic proportions in which nobody is healthy or safe - yourself included.
 


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Old 06-22-2012, 08:23 PM
 
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That's not ok for him to see, with his history. Use a lock immediately when you are intimate, and unlock when you're finished. Yes, may kill the spontaneity, but sex with kids in the house is always tricky, with a kid with signs of sexual knowledge/abuse, it's non-negotiable. You could lose your ability to foster if he said he saw you having sex.
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Old 06-23-2012, 10:02 AM
 
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Another vote for locking your bedroom door while you and hubby are intimate! That should be common sense, really. Kids shouldn't see that. Especially not foster children.

You can teach the kids how to knock on the door when it's locked. They learn pretty fast.

 

You can also put an alarm on the children's bedroom door so if they open it in the middle of the night then a chime sounds and you know they're up and about. Don't ever punish them for making the alarm go off (set it to chime instead of alarm so it's less disturbing to others sleeping). It's just a notice for you that the kiddo is walking around at night, it's not meant for any other purpose. We use it in our home to alert us if our toddler leaves his room at night. That way we can get up and meet his needs without him getting into trouble (I can just imagine him climbing over the babygate at the top of the stairs and trying to go down to get himself a snack in the middle of the night! Not on my watch! If he's hungry then I will get the snack and there will be no climbing over babygates or falling downstairs.)

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Old 06-25-2012, 09:33 PM
 
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I know you said you want to try to help him open up and talk more about things.  You said talking about things might help with the behavior.

 

As someone who has trauma in my background, I would not have wanted someone to bring something up and ask questions or try to talk about my past.  Of course if he initiates that is different.  But I strongly disagree that talking about past trauma will change behavior for the better.  If anything it usually makes it worse.  Again if this is done therapeutically it is a different story.  I don't mean to sound harsh.  I can tell how much you love him. 

 

He is more than what happened to him in his past.  He is more than his current behaviors.  Just focus on loving him and building a new relationship with him, that's what would have made me feel safe anyway.

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Old 06-26-2012, 04:25 AM
 
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Sometimes kids want to play about stuff instead of talking, especially at this age. It can be a bit like a pressure cooker letting off its steam. As kathteach alludes, he might not have words for his experiences at this age, even if he wanted to talk. It also depends on whether he had a single traumatic experience as opposed to an endless string of them.
 


 
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Old 06-26-2012, 10:43 AM
 
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My current foster son is 8, and does not want to answer questions about his past. I think that's a very normal adaptive response. 

 

Every kid is different, but this has worked well with all three foster sons so far: I say something that I know to be true, that I know is on their weighing on them, and then I hear it back again in a few days later with added details/questions. This isn't a sit-down chat, usually it's in response to another child's question while I'm driving or something. My biokds give me a lot of good openings, but if they weren't here I think I'd fine myself addressing neutral-sounding remarks to the wall, or the dog, or something similarly insane, because it seems to help so much. 

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Old 06-26-2012, 04:23 PM
 
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I hope you find some good support soon too. I know how hard it can be to admit that something is more than you can handle, but this little boy does sound severely damaged. You are right to be alarmed at his behaviors. It will take time. Blessings to you.

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