How do you help the gifted child's behavior problems when you don't know what's wrong? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 03:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Forgive me for this probably confusing post. Please don't move it, because I do believe I need the opinion of mothers of gifted children who really might help me troubleshoot my gifted/anxious/intense middle daughter.

I'm going to have to back up a bit because I haven't been posting much. My middle daughter was diagnosed when she was 4.5 due to generalized anxiety, separation anxiety and selective mutism, and sensory issues. She is 'cured' of her mutism, but she still, at 7, is fairly clinging and anxious in a vague sort of way (doesn't really talk about anything specific bothering her).

She has a lot of behavioral traits that are challenging. She is prone to excessive whining and wailing and otherwise explosive behavior (not aggressive, just annoying shrieks and tears and such) and has struck out in subtle ways against her sisters (pushing past them, sticking out a leg, or just whining - "so and so is looking mad at me" kind of obnoxious tattling).

She is also worse when she doesn't get enough to eat (I have suspected reactive hypoglycemia a long while ago).

She can go from Dr. Jekyll to Ms. Hyde in a matter of minutes.

She gets 'better' over the summers, but worse during the school year. We are back again to daily meltdowns when I pick her up from school. This is the first year she's in all day school (she's in first grade). I know the transition wasn't going to be easy.

She is getting better with transitions and change, but we were just delivered a whopping big change when we found out dad was laid off from work last Friday.

He picked up the girls from school and they asked why and when he brought them home, we talked about it. We tried a light-hearted approach - "Hey girls, how would you like to start seeing a lot more of dad". My eldest asked "Why?" My youngest said, "Yes", and my 7 year old said, "Why, did daddy get fired from work?"

We were kind of blown away by the intuitive remark, and laughed because it was accurate, forgetting that it makes her extremely embarrassed when we laugh at something she says. She bursts into tears, jumps up and runs from the room and shrieks "stop laughing at me".

Anyway...that's not even the problem. The problem is the increase in meltdowns, intractable behavior, inability to choose a snack when clearly she is showing signs of hypoglycemic behavior - she'll reject EVERY choice I tell her is available, further worsening her melting down/whining/wailing and gnashing of teeth.

Because of her old issues with anxiety, it's really tricky to discipline her. I don't want to be too hard on her. But sometimes I think that is making her act up too. Not knowing what behavior to let slide and what behavior to nip in the bud and how.

Because of her intuitiveness, who knows what she picks up under the surface of things, even though her dad and I are really cool with the layoff (he was having panic attacks and popping Xanax to control them).


I don't know what to do to help her work through these issues. Dh and I were going through couple's therapy because we were having problems communicating (we weren't fighting so much as just drifting apart). We had to stop that as well. But the nice thing about him being laid off is that we have time to focus on communicating and rediscovering each other when the girls are at school.

One thing I have tried to do was teach her more about emotional regulation using a few tips and tricks gleaned from the internet.

But it doesn't seem to be enough.

I'm wondering lately about play therapy to help me root out the problem of what is causing the increase in upsets and how to help her deal with them. But of course, with dh out of a job, I am not sure how to go about this.

I've brought out the SPD therapy stuff again, only she tends to get possessive about them. Take for instance, the mini-trampoline - rather than let her sister use it when she was done with it, she laid on it. So that becomes something to fight about rather than help her blow off some steam.


I'm really, really NOT into behavior charts and stuff. It seems very counter-intuitive and like a lot of bribing to me.

Has anyone done any play therapy at home for their gifted/intense/emotional child?

Can anyone suggest any reading material about play therapy so that I might learn at home?

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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#2 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 05:04 PM
 
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I can't really help you, Miss Information, other than to say, wow she sounds just like my dd1, age 5.5, who is anxious & has SPD. Sounds just like her--it's a excellent description of her, actually.

She is like the sun...she shines so brightly but it's really hard to live so close to such burning intensity all the time.

And I totally hear you on the sensitivity/anxiety and being hard to discipline. She hates being along, being on a different floor of the house, will never be in a room with the door closed etc. etc. Ideally she would like to be touching my body whenever I am home.

ARGH.

Our best hope at this point is to really tackle the sensory issues, we are hoping that getting a good handle on those & some OT will help her overall, or at least will let us tease out anxiety & spd. We currently homeschool because her last school experience at age 4 was so traumatic that she has no desire to go back. But eventually we would like to see her in school, I think.

We did try CBT a little while ago, but frankly it wasn't that helpful, though I think it could be helpful if we had a different therapist. We are moving to a bigger, better serviced city and I am hoping to get access to a good assessment.

I will certainly follow this thread. We are trying to work on having her identify her sensory issues and articulate them to us so that we can help her, rather than her usual responses of screaming, hiding under furniture, or hitting people.
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#3 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 06:19 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by proudmamanow View Post
I can't really help you, Miss Information, other than to say, wow she sounds just like my dd1, age 5.5, who is anxious & has SPD. Sounds just like her--it's a excellent description of her, actually.

She is like the sun...she shines so brightly but it's really hard to live so close to such burning intensity all the time.

And I totally hear you on the sensitivity/anxiety and being hard to discipline. She hates being along, being on a different floor of the house, will never be in a room with the door closed etc. etc. Ideally she would like to be touching my body whenever I am home.

ARGH.

Our best hope at this point is to really tackle the sensory issues, we are hoping that getting a good handle on those & some OT will help her overall, or at least will let us tease out anxiety & spd. We currently homeschool because her last school experience at age 4 was so traumatic that she has no desire to go back. But eventually we would like to see her in school, I think.

We did try CBT a little while ago, but frankly it wasn't that helpful, though I think it could be helpful if we had a different therapist. We are moving to a bigger, better serviced city and I am hoping to get access to a good assessment.

I will certainly follow this thread. We are trying to work on having her identify her sensory issues and articulate them to us so that we can help her, rather than her usual responses of screaming, hiding under furniture, or hitting people.
I often felt dd was a bit like a barnacle on a ship. For the most part I did what I could to meet her needs for touch.

Today, I picked them up from school. They had an extra hour for their afterschool art session. I brought snacks. Then found out she only ate half her sandwich at lunch, so she finished that too. So, she's started off better today than yesterday because she ate a hearty snack.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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#4 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 07:56 PM
 
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Have you talked to anyone at the school??

I know our school system has a social worker/psychologist that does play therapy and social support groups at school. They are for ANY child that is struggling with behaviors/changes at home. In part, due to the many job losses in the area we were living in---a parent or a teacher could refer the child. Depending on the student---they would meet one on one or in small groups (or both) to strategize ways to 'cope' and appropriate behaviors.


One of my DD is INTENSE and off/on. She is what I liken to a vacuum and she simply to absorb all the emotions around her and electrify the air.


I would also talk to the school and make sure she is eating. That alone may help in some ways.

I would also set concequences for passive aggressive behavior (laying on the trampoline, etc). It could be the loss of a some activity or something else. Also make sure to be proactive.

We have found if we state expectations BEFORE an activity (we are going to quietly brush our teeth. Sit on the floor and read a story. If you dont sit down/quiet/etc then we will put the story away). It will sometimes prevent a behavior from starting at all and/or lays out the expected bahavior as well as defines what will happen if the child chooses to misbehave.This is the most effective discipline for our intense child....she DOES test it and does miss stories/tv shows/etc. Seh gets upset, but that is part of the learning expereince. We acknowledge she is sad- but restate she CHOSE to behave that way. It has not eliminated the behaviors,but it has reduced the events greatly and taken away a lot of power struggles.

DH and I also are careful to moderate our own emotions since our DD feeds off of them. The more crabby/worried etc we are....the more fired up and anxious she gets.

*Hugs* hope it gets better soon!
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#5 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 08:13 PM
 
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#6 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 08:39 PM
 
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Much in your description reminds me of my 8 year old.

Items I have suspected...

SPD/Sensory issues
I have considered Asperger's as well. I don't think it really fits, but there are some items that make me think there are some border line spectrum items. The anxiety can be a big part of asperger's. The sensory stuff too. I read input on Asperger's kids, just because I can use some of it.

Have you tried HALT?
If dd starts loosing control, we do HALT.
HALT!!
Are you Hungry, Angry/Anxious, Lonely, Tired?
She is usually hitting 2-3 by the time she is loosing it.

The object is you HAVE to deal with those items, before you can move forward.

While it may be bad, I do not give dd the choice.
If she is loosing it and says she is hungry, she HAS to have a high protein snack, even if it is a spoonful of peanut butter. Webb talks about the peanut butter popscicle. (spoon of peanut butter.)
I could have written this post. My daughter was "better" by the time she was 8 years old; but first grade sounds really familiar to Miss Information. I chalk it up to a couple of things: probably SPD, also reactive hypoglycemia, also probably a very high metabolism. A protein snack became a requirement. As in, I required her to have it after school before I would even talk to her. And after 1/2 day KG as well. She was a mess. She took a few years to realize her "need" for protein.

Peanut butter popsicle. That sounds pretty good.

Here are things we used for protein snacks: cheese cubes or slices, a glass of milk, yogurt, jerky, tofu cubes, nuts or peanuts, leftover meat of any kind, chicken, etc.

Meat or peanut butter was our best bet. This daughter of mine cannot be vegetarian, I think. She needs one or two meat servings every day.

My son is now in 1st grade and has the same situation--he likes cashews or a glass of milk. My 4 year old has the same temperament. She eats yogurt and cashews or whole wheat bread with peanut butter for lunch every day.

Have you read the Highly Sensitive Child?
http://www.hsperson.com/pages/child.htm
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#7 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 08:43 PM
 
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The other thing I'd say is also to moderate your reaction. Strangely, being sympathetic always fed the "I feel bad, I can't cope, etc." I just had to be very matter-of-fact: "I'm sorry that you feel ________. It's still not OK for you to (yell/hit/scream). You need to sit on the dining room chair and eat your protein snack before I talk with you.

Oh, eggs are good too, but my "highly sensitive children" haven't liked eggs as a 1st grader.
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#8 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 08:45 PM
 
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Sorry about your husband's job. It is such a hard time for so many families.

I may have some ideas, but first I'd like some more information.
1. What does your daughter understand about the relationship between food and her behavior?
2. What sorts of conversations do you have this stuff outside of the moment of when she's upset?
3. How does she respond to planning ahead?
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#9 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 09:21 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry about your husband's job. It is such a hard time for so many families.

I may have some ideas, but first I'd like some more information.
1. What does your daughter understand about the relationship between food and her behavior?
2. What sorts of conversations do you have this stuff outside of the moment of when she's upset?
3. How does she respond to planning ahead?
I'm working this post first because it was the last one I read -

Thank you - dh was a mechanical engineer in a job that was stressing him out.

I and dh have been trying to talk to her about foods that make her feel good feeling good. We've told her that not eating (or not eating enough protein) leads to feeling bad and that she feels better when she has something to eat. Sometimes, when she feels like it, she can even parrot it back so it it seems like she 'knows'.

Outside the moment she's upset, we talk in general about emotions and behavior and expectations. It has been a while since we were using our problem solving binder I created for her when she was selectively mute. It has general things in it about emotions - a few social stories about temper tantrums and using my words I got from the internet, and some pages about I feel happy/sad/mad/frustrated when...with about 8 different scenarios about it. But really not customized to things that happen with siblings (it's used mostly by teachers so they use 'friend' where it would be better to use 'sister').

We do try to plan ahead for big outings - what are we going to do if we can't do what we originally planned to do. But it's the spur of the moment things that I don't think much about until it comes up.

Like this:

We went for a walk yesterday to see the decorations around the block while waiting for dinner to be cooked.

She had wanted to cross the street first and go around the block. For some unknown reason, I headed out on the side of the street our house was on. So she starts whining about how she wanted the OTHER side instead.

So I said, "okay, let's go on the OTHER side".

Then she said, "No" and gets upset.

I told her, firmly "Okay, I'm not making this a power struggle, you either make a choice, or we go inside". And surprisingly enough...it worked. We had no other incident.

Anyway...so for big things - like anything involving a car ride anywhere, we plan ahead. And I try to remember to never promise anything I am not reasonably sure I can deliver on.

But I forget the little things.

Why, I have NO idea. Except, when you see progress in some areas, you think they've gotten it, until something sets us back again.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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#10 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 09:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I could have written this post. My daughter was "better" by the time she was 8 years old; but first grade sounds really familiar to Miss Information. I chalk it up to a couple of things: probably SPD, also reactive hypoglycemia, also probably a very high metabolism. A protein snack became a requirement. As in, I required her to have it after school before I would even talk to her. And after 1/2 day KG as well. She was a mess. She took a few years to realize her "need" for protein.

Peanut butter popsicle. That sounds pretty good.

Here are things we used for protein snacks: cheese cubes or slices, a glass of milk, yogurt, jerky, tofu cubes, nuts or peanuts, leftover meat of any kind, chicken, etc.

Meat or peanut butter was our best bet. This daughter of mine cannot be vegetarian, I think. She needs one or two meat servings every day.

My son is now in 1st grade and has the same situation--he likes cashews or a glass of milk. My 4 year old has the same temperament. She eats yogurt and cashews or whole wheat bread with peanut butter for lunch every day.

Have you read the Highly Sensitive Child?
http://www.hsperson.com/pages/child.htm
I have the Highly Sensitive Child. I am a Highly Sensitive Person too. Her shrieks are at the right frequency to cut through me like nails on a blackboard.

I also suffer from complex-PTSD from childhood trauma and emotional flashbacks that I have been working out so her behavior doesn't trigger me (that's a daily thing I work on).

Yes, we've done all those snack ideas except tofu. Sometimes she gets tired of all of them. I think she's a sensory seeker with taste because she in addition to protein, has a strong preference for "flavorful" food (her term , not mine).

We used to eat trail mix a lot. She got tired of it.

We used to do smoothies too. She doesn't like them now.

Yesterday we got bacon in her. That was after the second meltdown and before the walk.

She has been begging me for salami sandwiches. I'm not wondering if it's the preservatives driving her behavioral change.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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#11 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 09:36 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The other thing I'd say is also to moderate your reaction. Strangely, being sympathetic always fed the "I feel bad, I can't cope, etc." I just had to be very matter-of-fact: "I'm sorry that you feel ________. It's still not OK for you to (yell/hit/scream). You need to sit on the dining room chair and eat your protein snack before I talk with you.

Oh, eggs are good too, but my "highly sensitive children" haven't liked eggs as a 1st grader.
Oy, vey...moderate my reaction. Yeah, I know, know, know this in principle. But I struggle with my sensitivity and those emotional flashbacks. I try to practice mindfulness...but her responses...the frequency/amplitude... something of her voice (high pitched thing) just makes my skin crawl when it gets to that whiny/wailing stage.

Yeah, she's getting tired of eggs too.

In the morning she eats eggs, she complains that eggs give her a tummy ache.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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#12 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 09:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Much in your description reminds me of my 8 year old.

Items I have suspected...

SPD/Sensory issues
I have considered Asperger's as well. I don't think it really fits, but there are some items that make me think there are some border line spectrum items. The anxiety can be a big part of asperger's. The sensory stuff too. I read input on Asperger's kids, just because I can use some of it.

Have you tried HALT?
If dd starts loosing control, we do HALT.
HALT!!
Are you Hungry, Angry/Anxious, Lonely, Tired?
She is usually hitting 2-3 by the time she is loosing it.

The object is you HAVE to deal with those items, before you can move forward.

While it may be bad, I do not give dd the choice.
If she is loosing it and says she is hungry, she HAS to have a high protein snack, even if it is a spoonful of peanut butter. Webb talks about the peanut butter popscicle. (spoon of peanut butter.)

Those items are BIG triggers to behavior here.
The one that is not on that list is STRESS.

First grade was very stressful for her because of her teacher. That stress level really exacerbates temperment issues. She probably broke down after school almost every day last year. She needed that snack after school. It took a while to alleviate the stress.

Anyway, I don't have a solution, but I think you have to deal with those triggers....
Hungry, angry/anxious, lonely, tried and stress.

Only when those have been fixed, is temperment back to normal.


I suspect the sensory aspect feeds into this... you figure if your body is on high alert because your senses are on overdrive, it makes you more anxious, and makes you more prone to just flight/fight when those triggers hit.

It's why I think so much of this reminds me of aspects Asperger's but I don't think it is.


I did consider CBT last year. I have also considered a complete eval by a neuropsych.
The difference between 1rst and 2nd, though, with the alleviation of that stress level...... it is QUITE startling to see the difference.

Tammy
I know all about HALT.

I think that's a part of it, just not the whole story.

DD had an eval by a pediatric neuropsych who told me she is not on the spectrum.

I think she needs more...something, focused engagement, older friends, challengingly creative things to do.

I read something recently, in Living with Intensity I think, that some children desperately need the continual interaction and synergy with another gifted individual or older person.

Heck I am this way.

I just can't provide what she needs though I do provide some. She just needs more and a specific kind of something.

I have 2 other children, and a husband I'd been drifting from - because HE doesn't always provide the kind of intellectual synergy I need. He'd rather chill out watching tv and play video or computer games, while I'd read the latest thing about giftedness, intensity, and brain development.

Seems like I know a lot...and fail to know how to apply it to our own situation for my child. Because I have a hard time translating it into ways she'd understand - which is why I think play therapy would help.

I...well, I don't know how to play.

I can research, I can do science experiments...

I am not very imaginative when it comes to playing. Dd is very creative and imaginative. I'm a terrible story teller. I need prompts/scripting.

And...the house is small, and cluttered...and filled with educational things...which get used....but

but I think she would LOVE LOVE LOVE it if I was imaginatively creatively playing with her (or her sisters). But they all have vastly different ideas on what and how to play.

But we run into obstacles with daily living...

Like 3 girls and one bathroom sink.

And all three seem to be synchronized to need to void their bladders or have bm's at the same time. And they fight over who goes first.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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#13 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 10:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Have you talked to anyone at the school??

I know our school system has a social worker/psychologist that does play therapy and social support groups at school. They are for ANY child that is struggling with behaviors/changes at home. In part, due to the many job losses in the area we were living in---a parent or a teacher could refer the child. Depending on the student---they would meet one on one or in small groups (or both) to strategize ways to 'cope' and appropriate behaviors.


One of my DD is INTENSE and off/on. She is what I liken to a vacuum and she simply to absorb all the emotions around her and electrify the air.


I would also talk to the school and make sure she is eating. That alone may help in some ways.

I would also set concequences for passive aggressive behavior (laying on the trampoline, etc). It could be the loss of a some activity or something else. Also make sure to be proactive.

We have found if we state expectations BEFORE an activity (we are going to quietly brush our teeth. Sit on the floor and read a story. If you dont sit down/quiet/etc then we will put the story away). It will sometimes prevent a behavior from starting at all and/or lays out the expected bahavior as well as defines what will happen if the child chooses to misbehave.This is the most effective discipline for our intense child....she DOES test it and does miss stories/tv shows/etc. Seh gets upset, but that is part of the learning expereince. We acknowledge she is sad- but restate she CHOSE to behave that way. It has not eliminated the behaviors,but it has reduced the events greatly and taken away a lot of power struggles.

DH and I also are careful to moderate our own emotions since our DD feeds off of them. The more crabby/worried etc we are....the more fired up and anxious she gets.

*Hugs* hope it gets better soon!
Thanks. Me too.

I will contact the school social worker. I know her from before, when I needed some advice with meltdowns.

I'll see what I can do about getting dd a snack during school hours. My 8 year old gets a morning snack because she eats so late, my 5 year old gets an afternoon snack because they eat so early. Dd2 gets only lunch, because hers is supposed to be right in the middle, but I know it's not enough. I would feed dd2 every 2 hours sometimes...to moderate her levels.

I will think more about specific instances that might require more vocalizing expectations. I will go through our day and figure out these 'hot spots'.

Thanks for the ideas.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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#14 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 10:24 PM
 
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Oh, yes, I forgot about the school snack thing. I came up in arms because the 1st grade teacher was lackadaisical about a snack and I basically said, "If you don't want a screaming lunatic by lunchtime you had better plan a snack time every.single.day." I would insist on a second snack if she needed it--even if you got the doctor involved. If Saturday goes better with snacks in the morning and the afternoon, you may be able to get a dr. order for food!

I'm interested in her boredom with food. Can you find salami without nitrites/preservatives? Would that be an alternative? (probably expensive) ALL of my kids, even not the HSC ones are very picky about food; more like won't move outside their comfort zone.

Is SHE a planner? Could SHE fill out a chart together with you to determine:

a morning (school) snack, lunch, afternoon/after school snack? For the whole week?

Hope this all isn't redundant. You can just ignore these ideas if they aren't useful for you. I hope you can figure it out. The tantrums, meltdowns, and hours of family time used up in conflict are really difficult. I have been there.

Hang in there!
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#15 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 10:27 PM
 
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This may seem like an overly obvious question, but how is school going? My sensitive kiddo (who also needs a LOT of food) tends to do more of this stuff when frustrated at school.

grateful mother to DD, 1/04, and DS, 2/08

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#16 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 10:38 PM
 
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I agree it is a good idea to see if the school can help.

Really, I wouldn't focus energy on play therapy. You aren't a play therapist and it really is a complex process that isn't intended to be done by one of the members of the family.

I would put energy toward: 1. living on a tight schedule. 2. planning transitions. 3. working with her outside the moment of upset to get her involved in making plans. What she's capable of doing in this area should be totally different than what she could do a year or two ago. 4. accepting that sometimes she will meltdown or have frustrating times and that's part of it.

You may want to take a look at the paperwork section here http://www.livesinthebalance.org/ And, think about picking just a few issues to work on collaborative problem solving.
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#17 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 10:59 PM
 
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to us all! This was truly my place of solace during my difficult days with ds1 and no one else understood.

DS1 used to have these after school meltdowns as well, even having nightmares when he fell asleep in the car on the wya home, and we did subsequently find out that he had some sensory issues, as well as other 2e issues. My mum noticed that an afterschool snack made a huge difference. I used to look forward to the school holidays because things always get better.

But food aside, as Lorax said, there may be some school issues that is making her extra brittle and fragile. For us a combination of addressing the 2e issues and the sensory issues, and perhaps also some maturity and better understanding of his physical needs, ds1's bouts of after school anxiety are largely gone. With the anxiety gone, he is no longer uptight about other things.

Sensory/2e - You mentioned trampoline etc, but for ds1, the sensory aspects were more not having the confidence to deal with other kids running about because of his vision difficulties, and slower reaction time. As we worked on gross motor and vision, he became very confident physically and it paid off socially. He still have issues with a noisy environment when learning, but he knows to ask for breaks and whenever he comes home in a dark dark mood, I would have extra special snacks ready to soothe the beast and put him in a quiet place and just leave him alone for half an hour. He had vision difficulties and dyslexic tendencies which left him feeling lost in class. I had no idea he was having difficulties because I never "tested" him at home and he is so verbal. He would say things like "I'm so stupid, just kill me." It was only after I took him out of school and taught him myself that I realised something was wrong. Once these are addressed he was ok back in school.

My ds2 is the excessive whiner. Like you, I suspect a good snack and more interaction/attention is what he's after. I'm looking for a good mixed age class of some sorts for him to take some of the pressure off me. In the meantime I sometimes have ds1's friends over to occupy them, and occasionally ask the grandparents to take them out for a weekend outing. I also realise that very often, my own uncertainty over how to deal with him makes him even more unreasonable. On times when I can be firm, I can nip it in the bud, and then move on to other things. So at least for ds2, I had to sit down and consciously decide on my limits for him. It was much harder than I thought!

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#18 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 11:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I agree it is a good idea to see if the school can help.

Really, I wouldn't focus energy on play therapy. You aren't a play therapist and it really is a complex process that isn't intended to be done by one of the members of the family.

I would put energy toward: 1. living on a tight schedule. 2. planning transitions. 3. working with her outside the moment of upset to get her involved in making plans. What she's capable of doing in this area should be totally different than what she could do a year or two ago. 4. accepting that sometimes she will meltdown or have frustrating times and that's part of it.

You may want to take a look at the paperwork section here http://www.livesinthebalance.org/ And, think about picking just a few issues to work on collaborative problem solving.
Well, I'd been thinking about this...

I disagree...slightly.

I don't want to be a play therapist to unearth any great insights. Just use play to communicate feelings, and model good behavior and expectations.

My daughter's neuropsych believed it was well within my jurisdiction to use any and all social stories and props to communicate with her and bring her emotional self-regulation into balance. She specifically told me the more visual the approach the better, since she was more stimulated and attentive to visual tasks.

I thought play therapy did that. Maybe what I'm thinking of is different than what "real" play therapy is meant to do. I did sensory therapy at home...I thought play therapy would be similar. Maybe not.

As far as problem solving goes...I have the Explosive Child/collaborative problem solving information at home. It didn't really appeal to me. Maybe it's because the stuff I did at work - in the biotech field with all it's rules, regulations, and worksheets to fill out of all our test results for 12 years has me really burnt out. I'm looking at the forms and flowcharts and I'm really feeling like that approach would take the joy right out of parenting for me and turning the problem solving into something I would resent doing.

I won't go on a tight schedule. I just refuse to. I was overly controlled by a domineering mother who controlled my every move, every thought, every expression I tried to have. She and the rest of my family gaslighted me into thinking there was something wrong with my view of reality. I have trouble with the concept of forcing anything on my child...including schedules. I need flexibility and wiggle room or I feel claustrophobic. (I feel anxious just defending my need to have it this way...)

It causes me a great deal of anxiety when things don't go according to the schedule. We have a basic routine though the particulars might change from day to day.

I want to teach my child flexibility, not even more rigidity. The first thing something didn't go to "the plan", daughter would know and I know would fuss about "But you said we would do X...it's on the schedule"...

Hence...I don't do strict schedules. We follow a loose one.

I have accepted these meltdowns are a part of her response. Her meltdowns trigger my PTSD flashbacks - that's a part of MY involuntary response. I need to work on both of these responses - both mine AND hers. I went to therapy for my PTSD...but we didn't get to finish because of the layoff. I still have a ways to go.

I'm thinking aloud here...not really responding to anything you said in particular when I say this next bit...

I think that using a creative/play based emotional teaching approach would work exceptionally much better than a strictly cognitive approach. I want to reach our hearts...not just our brains.

If I don't feel it's fun and working for me, I won't be able to teach it to her.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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#19 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 11:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This may seem like an overly obvious question, but how is school going? My sensitive kiddo (who also needs a LOT of food) tends to do more of this stuff when frustrated at school.
She seems fine at school. She hasn't complained about being bored...like she did a little last year.

The teacher is working to get her more differentiation with reading...and the new enVision math program is at least more visually interesting than the Saxon program.

She is blossoming into a social creature...and working on catching up because she spent the first year and a half mute in preschool.

She takes an afterschool art class once a week and the teacher asked her to be the student council rep. We also got to visit her sister's class after school to see the chicks that hatched.

She could probably use more food in school. I might ask if she could get a snack. When she had an IEP last year (for the mutism), she was allowed to have a snack if she needed it. She doesn't have an IEP this year, so I would just have to ask the teacher. She never seems to eat all her lunch at school because she's too busy talking.

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#20 of 77 Old 10-20-2010, 11:49 PM - Thread Starter
 
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to us all! This was truly my place of solace during my difficult days with ds1 and no one else understood.

DS1 used to have these after school meltdowns as well, even having nightmares when he fell asleep in the car on the wya home, and we did subsequently find out that he had some sensory issues, as well as other 2e issues. My mum noticed that an afterschool snack made a huge difference. I used to look forward to the school holidays because things always get better.

But food aside, as Lorax said, there may be some school issues that is making her extra brittle and fragile. For us a combination of addressing the 2e issues and the sensory issues, and perhaps also some maturity and better understanding of his physical needs, ds1's bouts of after school anxiety are largely gone. With the anxiety gone, he is no longer uptight about other things.

Sensory/2e - You mentioned trampoline etc, but for ds1, the sensory aspects were more not having the confidence to deal with other kids running about because of his vision difficulties, and slower reaction time. As we worked on gross motor and vision, he became very confident physically and it paid off socially. He still have issues with a noisy environment when learning, but he knows to ask for breaks and whenever he comes home in a dark dark mood, I would have extra special snacks ready to soothe the beast and put him in a quiet place and just leave him alone for half an hour. He had vision difficulties and dyslexic tendencies which left him feeling lost in class. I had no idea he was having difficulties because I never "tested" him at home and he is so verbal. He would say things like "I'm so stupid, just kill me." It was only after I took him out of school and taught him myself that I realised something was wrong. Once these are addressed he was ok back in school.

My ds2 is the excessive whiner. Like you, I suspect a good snack and more interaction/attention is what he's after. I'm looking for a good mixed age class of some sorts for him to take some of the pressure off me. In the meantime I sometimes have ds1's friends over to occupy them, and occasionally ask the grandparents to take them out for a weekend outing. I also realise that very often, my own uncertainty over how to deal with him makes him even more unreasonable. On times when I can be firm, I can nip it in the bud, and then move on to other things. So at least for ds2, I had to sit down and consciously decide on my limits for him. It was much harder than I thought!

Thanks for the good vibes and hugs.

I'm going to think about making some visual aids and social stories of our own to illustrate some of the problem areas. Dd2 has been enjoying coming up with stories lately.

I'm not much of an artist, but dd1 is and dh is. I'm not wondering if they can't draw pictures for us, while dd2 and I come up with a story about some of the common problems we face.

I think we could come up with a brainstorming session and come up with visuals to go along with dialogue. I suspect that she needs the visual reinforcement.

I know with me...you could tell me something and I might instantly forget it. But if I read it...or if I see it...I would retain it a lot better.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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#21 of 77 Old 10-21-2010, 12:01 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Oh, yes, I forgot about the school snack thing. I came up in arms because the 1st grade teacher was lackadaisical about a snack and I basically said, "If you don't want a screaming lunatic by lunchtime you had better plan a snack time every.single.day." I would insist on a second snack if she needed it--even if you got the doctor involved. If Saturday goes better with snacks in the morning and the afternoon, you may be able to get a dr. order for food!

I'm interested in her boredom with food. Can you find salami without nitrites/preservatives? Would that be an alternative? (probably expensive) ALL of my kids, even not the HSC ones are very picky about food; more like won't move outside their comfort zone.

Is SHE a planner? Could SHE fill out a chart together with you to determine:

a morning (school) snack, lunch, afternoon/after school snack? For the whole week?

Hope this all isn't redundant. You can just ignore these ideas if they aren't useful for you. I hope you can figure it out. The tantrums, meltdowns, and hours of family time used up in conflict are really difficult. I have been there.

Hang in there!
No, not redundant. I do like the idea of giving HER some more control over her choices though.

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#22 of 77 Old 10-21-2010, 12:02 AM
 
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Well, I'd been thinking about this...

I disagree...slightly.

I don't want to be a play therapist to unearth any great insights. Just use play to communicate feelings, and model good behavior and expectations.

My daughter's neuropsych believed it was well within my jurisdiction to use any and all social stories and props to communicate with her and bring her emotional self-regulation into balance. She specifically told me the more visual the approach the better, since she was more stimulated and attentive to visual tasks.

I thought play therapy did that. Maybe what I'm thinking of is different than what "real" play therapy is meant to do. I did sensory therapy at home...I thought play therapy would be similar. Maybe not.

As far as problem solving goes...I have the Explosive Child/collaborative problem solving information at home. It didn't really appeal to me.

I won't go on a tight schedule. I just refuse to. I was overly controlled by a domineering mother who controlled my every move, every thought, every expression I tried to have. She and the rest of my family gaslighted me into thinking there was something wrong with my reality. I have trouble with the concept of forcing anything on my child...including schedules. I need flexibility and wiggle room or I feel claustrophobic. (I feel anxious just defending my need to have it this way...)

It causes me a great deal of anxiety when things don't go according to the schedule. We have a basic routine though the particulars might change from day to day.

I want to teach my child flexibility, not even more rigidity. The first thing something didn't go to "the plan", daughter would know and I know would fuss about "But you said we would do X...it's on the schedule"...

Hence...I don't do strict schedules. We follow a loose one.

I have accepted these meltdowns are a part of her response. Her meltdowns trigger my PTSD flashbacks - that's a part of MY involuntary response. I need to work on both of these responses - both mine AND hers. I went to therapy for my PTSD...but we didn't get to finish because of the layoff. I still have a ways to go.

I'm thinking aloud here...not really responding to anything you said in particular when I say this next bit...

I think that using a creative/play based emotional teaching approach would work exceptionally much better than a strictly cognitive approach. I want to reach our hearts...not just our brains.

If I don't feel it's working for me, I won't be able to teach it to her.
I want to suggest you read a book called "Playful Parenting" by Lawrence J. Cohen. I had heard of this book for years but never read it, but I just started it this week. It's all about play therapy and playing with your kids and connecting with them! I am still in the beginnings of the book, but it's really resonating with me so far. It seems to have several examples of how things can be turned into playful situations which go well instead turning into power struggles.

I feel like I can relate to much of what you have written about your situation. I am having issues with my 7 year old. And I am also a Highly Sensitive Person with issues (OCD, panic). Lately, I feel like I am just trying to make it from one hour to the next with DD. We homeschool and DD is in therapy for anxiety.

Today was very bad. I know both DD and I need to eat protein, but I can't force her to eat. We've talked about food and how being hungry affects both of us, but in the moment of being hungry, it's all out the window.

I am going to try to talk to her about HALT. I will probably do this in a story. We tell cat stories or stories about our dogs as characters. This is the only way I can connect with DD lately. We each add things into the story, but I can sometimes use one to get to a point I want to address with her in a non-threatening way.

Now that I am reading "Playful Parenting" I am going to try to be more active in playing with her. She usually responds well when DH or I do this, but I hadn't understood so much why. The book explains the why. I am more motivated to try to be playful now that I can understand how it can be helpful beyond just being a distraction or a redirection. I doubt it's a cure-all or anything but we are also seeing a therapist with DD (who sometimes does play therapy along with some CBT) for several anxiety-related issues.

I hope you find some answers and things calm down for you soon.

I am a 40 year old unschooling, belly dancing, artist-mama of one almost 8 year old. I just had brain surgery and blogging.jpg about it a bit because it's just so surreal.
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I don't expect you are going to agree but I'm going to be very direct and take from it what you will...

In your response I heard a lot about you. How you feel about schedules. How you feel about routine. How you feel about charting and forms. And, I'm going to say it... Sometimes it sucks but you gotta parent the kid you got not the one that's an easy fit for what is most comfortable with you. Pretty much nothing about the way I parent is the way I expected to parent. A lot of it didn't come easily to me. Some of it was uncomfortable or downright irritating. Much of it was not at all intellectually challenging for me or appealing in the way that spending a lot of time reading about giftedness or focusing on the quest would have been. As a person who likes research it was more appealing to me to read and mull; that's a lot easier than getting in and doing the work, but it is also a lot less effective. I would have loved to teach happy heartwarming lessons with puppets, but my child did better with creating charts. I don't like living with a tight routine and schedule; it is not at all me, but I had to acknowledge that for a child who was born without good natural rhythms it was vital. Ultimately it makes your life easier if you don't try to make your child fit the categories that are easiest for you.

Uncontrolled anxiety feels absolutely awful to live with. It is a terrible thing for a child. Sometimes dealing with that that means making some significant changes. The child you are describing is absolutely the child that Ross Greene writes about. While you could make his system really complicated it ultimately boils down to three categories of problems, choosing to focus on a few and working on collaborative problem solving. It works for a lot of families and a lot of kids.

As far as playing, of course it is a great idea and along the way it certainly can mature a child and help them develop socially. I was taking it as a given that most people already engaged in this kind of play, but if that's not a part of her life sure it would be great to add that. I don't think studying the art of play is any substitute for offering a child predictability of a schedules and teaching problem solving skills.
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#24 of 77 Old 10-21-2010, 11:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Roar -

I understand. I do.

I could very easily make a schedule (and I have made beautiful ones in the past), but I guarantee it will only be a guideline, NOT something they'll be able to follow to a T. If we happen to fall into adhering to the times...I will be majorly delighted, but I won't lose sleep if they don't. My SIL has her daughter on a strict time schedule and her daughter is NOT performing up to SIL's excpetations. I believe she has it so that the child pees and poops according to schedule (okay that's stretching it a bit...but SIL gets majorly upset when things happen to knock her daughter's schedule off). Her daughter is MORE stubborn against her mother than even my daughter was without one.

We have a loosely predictable schedule (wake up, dress, eat, brush teeth/hair, school and afterschool activities, play for 1/2 hour, homework, play, dinner, more play, bath if bath night, reading, bed) but there is no way we can tie it to a strict time schedule.

The reality is that she's dead to the world in the mornings. She sometimes wakes up on her own by 6:30, but sometimes we have to physically pick her up out of her top bunk and put her on the couch to finish waking up otherwise she's a bear if we force her to. Yelling about it is fruitless if she's in "dead to the world" mode. She will not move. Literally, sometimes I have to shake her to make sure she's breathing.

In this regard...she is just like me. I hate mornings. I am groggy and slow in the mornings too until I get my coffee. I have a diagnosed hypothyroid condition which does play a role in this inability to get moving in the morning.

She probably could use with about 1 or 2 hours more sleep a night. That's one thing dh and I are going to try to implement.

We have natural rhythms...but it is opposite to the rest of the world. The world as it is now is NOT meant for night owls, but early birds. My oldest daughter, an early bird, wakes up voluntarily EVERY day at 6 am without fail. She prefers to be up and reading a book or watching a bit of TV.

Eating breakfast (or lunch or dinner), the girls dilly dally. The girls talk, goof off, get up to go potty (usually at the same time then fight over the only toilet like they did this morning). A ten minute breakfast turns into 15 or 20 minutes. But if I cut off their eating before they are done, it will set them up to fail later in the day. And before you ask, we do bark orders at them to get back to eating. There have been times when I shoveled food into my daughters mouth if she was particularly fussy. Ask me how many mornings she tells me, "Mommy my tummy hurts. I can't eat any more".

When I was in elementary school, it didn't start until 9 am and we got out at 3:30 - a more natural thing for children. Their school is 8:10 in the mornings and they get out at 2:30. Do you know the reason for the time change? So that parents can get to work on time. It has NOTHING to do with what's good for the children but what works better for the PARENTS.

Do you see where I'm getting with this?

And Roar - I'm not picking on YOU with this next bit. I promise you I'm not.

We are institutionalizing children and expecting them to get ready for the grown up world starting at kindergarten.

Our society, with it's rigid rules and expectations, it's industrial model of education and work, and turning childhood activities into a production line is TOXIC to human development. And then we wonder why are kids are anxious. We expect them to act like grownups before they are ready.

Sure kids can thrive in that situation because it's conditioned into them at early ages because we want to turn them into good little drones...I mean citizens.

You must get them to conform and it all starts with the schedule (which is best implemented from birth).

Okay rant over.

But...given the fact that I have to get my kids to conform to society's schedule, and not be able to follow our own natural biorhythms and the girls make it very difficult, that makes me grumpy and frustrated. Not at THEM.

I am grumpy and frustrated at the fact that I have to send them to school in the first place.

I would homeschool them if I had a bigger house to have a dedicated homeschool room and I knew they would have more space not to get in each others way.

But I don't, and I can't. So I have to learn how to work with what we've got. And yes, I am highly resistant to it. I refuse to completely assimilate. Perhaps my daughter is more like me than I thought. Hmmm, I should be proud she's not caving in instantly to my demands, not frustrated.

Anyway...I do appreciate your input. Please don't think I'm really arguing with YOU, I'm not.

I've been given some things to think about.

I will create a basic written schedule list. I will post it in the dining room and on the Refrigerator. I will encourage the girls to keep to the schedule, but I'm not going to punish them if they don't (and I'm not saying that you even suggested that).

I will, with dh's help, think about other improvements that have been suggested.

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#25 of 77 Old 10-21-2010, 11:22 AM - Thread Starter
 
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As far as playing, of course it is a great idea and along the way it certainly can mature a child and help them develop socially. I was taking it as a given that most people already engaged in this kind of play, but if that's not a part of her life sure it would be great to add that. I don't think studying the art of play is any substitute for offering a child predictability of a schedules and teaching problem solving skills.
Um...the playing/play therapy WAS to help teach problem solving skills.

We HAVE talked about problem solving skills using picture books and social stories. It goes in one ear and out the other.

I have my problem solving binder we go through, with social stories in it, but it is limited because it doesn't apply specifically to HER situations, with HER sisters.

We have not PRACTICED scenarios using those problem solving skills.

THAT'S what I think the play 'therapy' would help. I'm talking about role playing, building scenarios in which she can act out with her toys the good choices.

My therapist, for couple's therapy gave us dialogue sheets to practice effective communication. We needed to act out and practice how we would respond to each other, because simply telling us only went through one ear and out the other.

We need to come up with things like that for the kids and actually PRACTICE it.

She needs practice with dealing with frustration. She's come a long way, but she's been through a setback.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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#26 of 77 Old 10-21-2010, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I wanted to add...

What is very helpful to me about the collaborative problem solving website was the video collection.

I'm not wondering if I could find more videos about it in action. It helps me to see it acted out, rather than read about it in a book.

Mama of 3 girls: 7.5 , 6 , and 4.5
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FWIW, I put off play therapy (with a licensed therapist) for years for many reasons. My 8yo DS is now in play therapy once a week (we started in August) and his transformation is unbelievable.

I tried play therapy techniques at home but I didn't see the results we are seeing now. There is something to be said for having a neutral third party lead the play in a neutral space. She has taken us out of home and school (where there is some baggage from years of struggling) and put us in a space where we... play. We play new, silly, unfamiliar games. We don't talk. We don't reason. We don't dwell. We just play together, like little kids, once a week for 45 minutes (and we end the session with my son curlds up like an infant in my lap, me rocking him like a baby, and it is a re-parenting of sorts -- how she gets him here is always amazing to me -- it is something he would never, ever have let me do before).

Things aren't perfect, but for a few days after play therapy he is simply more... balanced. Less intense. Easier to talk to and reason with. Like it organizes his brain and his emotions.

So, just putting that out there. Finding a good play therapist might be worth a shot. I'm kicking myself for not doing it earlier.

Mom to : DS1 (11), DS2 (8), DD3 (4), : DS4 (1), and : : :
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#28 of 77 Old 10-21-2010, 12:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Did you miss the part where dh got laid off?

I WOULD do play therapy...SHOULD HAVE DONE it before but really had not thought of it...

....if I didn't have to worry about what's going to happen when dh's severance runs out.

so, yeah...

it's in the plan for the future...when one of us is employed again.

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#29 of 77 Old 10-21-2010, 12:37 PM
 
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No, I did not miss it, yikes...

The clinic we go to is for low-income families on a sliding scale, $5 per visit usually, sometimes free. Kids on CHIP go for free.

Sorry, no offense meant.

Mom to : DS1 (11), DS2 (8), DD3 (4), : DS4 (1), and : : :
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#30 of 77 Old 10-21-2010, 12:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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No...no offense taken.

I had NO idea that 'sliding scale' play therapy would even be available. I am so used to therapies being like $150 a session...

Hmmm...now I'll be sure to ask the school social worker if she knows anything like that around here.

update...

I left a message with her because I have NO idea where we would go to find something like that.

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