leane0245, it sounds like you and pappa have a really good understanding of who your grandson is right now, and what he needs. Your time and your love are the best things he can have right now.
As far as not talking with a therapist.....is there someone in your area that does art therapy....and is you grandson interested in art at all....art therapy might be another way to go. Also, as someone else said you may see different results after being out of school, or maybe if the whole family went in together (you, grandson and pappa). Although I understand that he isn't interested, beginning a realtionship with a mental health professional in some form, would probably be a positive thing, even if it was for just you. You have taken on a huge responsibility....and even though you seem so understanding of him, that doesn't make it any less frustrating/scary/upsetting for you to take all of this on. I know it would be very difficult for me.
As far as his schooling. What are his interests....his own genuine, interests? If he says "nothing", maybe you and he can work together to discover what those interests may be, however small, and begin to explore those. From there, that may open up the space for more interests to bubble up, and you and he can explore all these amazing things, together.
When you write HELP in your header, what do you mean? Knowing what you want would help me form some sort of response.
what about play therapy? don't some of them actually come to your home to play with a child?
i think that he refused to talk while hiding in your lap was a good sign, a sign that he trusted you. maybe he doesn't have to talk, he just needs to be there, with someone who cares, and he will start opening up.
I don't think the goal of therapy should be for your grandson to separate from you and talk to the therapist - instead, I'd recommend some kind of family therapy, where you and your husband can learn strategies for dealing with his behavior and helping him with his feelings at home.
With young children, I think the value of one-on-one sessions with a therapist is overrated (I am a psychologist, BTW). Rather than concentrating on getting him into a proper therapeutic environment one hour a week, it's much better to get some help making sure that the other 167 hours a week provide the right kind of support and structure.
It really does sound like you love him so much, and want him to understand it too. I think the fact that he WANTS to cuddle with you says so much. A 9 year old boy who has not received love yet is brave enough to reach out to you like that, risking even more rejection, by cuddling on your lap ultimately has so much going for him. His heart is there! He has not been hardened by his experience so much that he is cold or aloof.
Cuddle him! Cuddle him BEFORE he asks for it. Give him hugs. Rub his hair. Watch movies together and draw out his ideas about it. Listen 2 times as much as you talk--maybe 3 times. Find out what he's curious about and follow that up with a trip to the library. Let him check out as many books as he wants.
Do you have to point out to him that you're not his Mom? He knows that. It's OK to just be very affectionate without qualifying it to him, isn't it? He needs love. Just continue to give it to him in obvious ways.
Is his eating OK now? Is he gaining weight? Are you able to get nutrient dense foods into him? So much of mood and energy is affected by the quality of food.
I agree with pps that it is still a good idea to continue to see a therapist of some sort. Find one where you can sit with him in the session. Can you imagine how scary the prospect is of talking about how your mother mistreated you?! How raw that would feel to open that up and let it all spill out. Especially to a stranger--even a caring stranger who's good at listening and finding ways to feel OK with your own feelings.
If he's hurting animals (or was he just TALKING about the idea?), he NEEDS to see someone on an ongoing basis. But, you make it as safe for him to open up as you can. He goes to the session, but gets to cuddle with you the entire time. You stay in there with him.
Shop around. There must be therapists who would see the value in you being there to help him feel safe with his feelings and talking about them with a stranger.
He is so lucky to have you and your husband. Thank goodness you're there.
This isn't a board I use (saw under "new posts") but I agree that I wouldn't worry about school stuff at all right now. I know your plan is to wait a couple of years and try therapy again - but I really hope that you reconsider. Yes, love him up with plenty of physical affection. But I do agree with another poster that I wouldn't continue to point out that you aren't his mom. It is the truth, but it just seems hurtful to point it out. I know you don't mean it that way.
I would find a psychologist who understands the severity of your dgs's background, and is willing to put in the time it will take (a long time) to get dgs to open up. I wouldn't consider therapy a failure because dgs didn't talk. How many times did you go? It may take many, many months of going before any "real" progress is made.
My parents both died when I was in junior high. My sister was in elementary. My brother was 4 and 6. He went into therapy at 6. He didn't bond with the therapist right at first. He didn't really want to go. But they kept taking him, and he did benefit greatly from it in the long run. It takes a long time to build that trust; I hope you find a really great therapist and put in the time - starting very soon - to let them start the process of helping him to work through ALL he has been through.
I know this must be very hard for you. It is wonderful that you and your dh are taking care of him. I do think that a support group for grandparents raising their grandkids might be helpful for you too. Just to be heard by people who understand seems like it would be very supportive.
: If he needs you like that then family counseling might be the better way to go. He wouldn't need to talk but he could see by example what it's like through you and his grandpa.
Cuddles, cuddles, cuddles and more cuddles. If he is still unharmed enough that he reaches out for that contact then give it to him before he reaches out. A passing tussle of the hair with a quiet word about how he's looking good, growing well, what have you. His own belongings and private space if needed. If possible a tv, video game, radio or computer game? My 7yo has just started getting into computer and video games he asks us to play with him unlike his other friends his age who push their parents away. Kudos to you for getting him away from the bullying. I would just give him down time and lots of trips to the library, aquarium, zoo, museum etc. Help him develop and/or discover (depending on what the previous damage is) his interests. If he is half as abused as it sounds he might not have a clue as to what to be interested in or how.
My little brother loved taking things apart when he was that age. My parents started giving him things that either didn't work right or had stopped working and let him take them apart. My brother had a small assortment of tools (two different screw drivers and a pair of pliers that I remember) and a work are that my dad made for him.
Does he have a bike? Has he ever had a bike, skateboard, scooter or anything like that? Would you or his grandpa be able to go on short bike rides (like around the block) with him. Or at least sit outside where you can watch him ride around?
Have you looked for a local homeschool group, or possibly some unschoolers in your area so that he has other kids his age to play with and who are also being homeschooled to hang out with. Just a word of warning, we are finding with my oldest that it's starting to get hard for him to do things with the kids who go to school as they are getting really stuck in their school oriented social circles and that the other homeschool families are way more open to the point that the kids love to play no matter what the age. We are lucky there is another homeschool family with kids roughly the same ages as mine on the street, their kids have been having the same issues with the other PS kids on the street.
You wouldn't believe how much kids learn from helping around the house, helping cook and helping garden. It's amazing! Maybe you could get him some seeds and either a corner of the yard or some pots for the porch or patio and help him with some herbs, flowers or what have you. Plus working together helps to foster that love and closeness he needs right now. He'd be working with you helping you but you wouldn't be forcing or demanding him to work, know what I mean?
I would work to foster good behaviors and habits by example and by making sure that he has the right choices to pick from. If he's anything like my boy (and my little brother or any boy that I've ever known) he's a walking stomach. Make sure that the healthiest foods possible are available to him 24/7 so that he can grab what he wants to eat when he needs it.
I'll post more if I can think of it. You boy isn't that much older then mine, so I've spent some time pondering this before I posted. (((HUGS))) to all of you.
I am going to second the play therapy! I know a play therapist and she deals with children who have gone through abuse and tragedy, but through their play and I believe the parents/ guardians are there and learn to use the play therapy for home too. It is more family than individual, because children need their family to help them through this.
Good luck, he is lucky to have you!
Aside from this child needing counseling, I would recommend looking into One Brain, 3 in one concepts and getting him a therapist, a massage therapist or other who does diffusions. Diffusions release emotional patterns we acquire from past negative emotional experiences at the age of cause, to release trauma and help repattern the brain. Here is a tad more info on One Brain, but I would google it to learn more;
"techniques for identifying and releasing negative emotional stress. The Behavioral Barometer is a unique roadmap of emotions for identifying exactly what a person wants and doesn't want on a specific issue. Visualization techniques and Eye Movements are safe, effective ways to clear stressful negative emotions. Muscle Testing is the most reliable form of biofeedback from the body as yet discovered by the healing arts." With diffusions, it is only muscle testing that the therapist can do on you while you hold his hand, which will really be muscle testing him. I just thought I'd mention it since it is a very powerful, non invasive tool to use in healing therapies, and not at all like counseling, he wont have to say anything. Good luck to you and your grandson, God Bless you for caring for this child. You are so important!
Thanks so much for all these suggestions, we really appreciate it,Lauradbg you aked if he is eating right now,I can't remember how much he weighed when we first brought him here, all I know is you could see every bone in his body he's now healthy 8 ( almost 9) weight about 73lbs an is 4'6", we cant keep him still and eats like a horse, our problem now is that he will eat too much if we don't watch him.
He gets cuddles all the time, we have a game going right now he tries to tickle me and if I don't laugh then I get to tickle him( hehe i haven't told him I'm not in the least bit ticklish yet...he'll work it out eventually)
I do want him to settle down a little before we try and get any help again, we sat in on the first few sessions he had at the school but as he wouldn't respond to them at all and consantly clung to me they thought it would be better to try and talk to him on his own, it didn't work, that's why they asked me to go to another session with him, the last few times we saw the therapist we all attended, obviously when we took him out of PS the theraphy stopped, we did ask if we could continue but unfortunately our school district dosentlike homeschoolers so we were simply told no...and that was it. ( area we live in dosent have too many elementary aged children and as we removed him they lost some cash, they don't like that at all)
I'm going to go against the grain and say that you should give him the option of military school. If he is interested in guns and has aggression, it might help him channel it IF he wants to go. But I wouldn't do that until he is older.
In the meantime can you involve him in tiring/ outdoorsy type stuff? Is there a scouts group he can join? I think he needs lots of structure and love. And do look for a psych for him.
Try to let him make his own decisions about schooling but hold him to a high behavior standard. Figure out what matters to him and remove that when he misbehaves. For my kids, it's videogames.
Kudos to you for working so hard for this little boy -- he has been through a lifetime of hardship already and deserves to be given extra special treatment for a while!! I second what a few other posters have said -- to help him develop interests of his own (but don't get discouraged if he doesn't show any signs of being interested in anything for a while) read with him about things that interest him, work with him in the kitchen, garden, on taking things apart, woodworking -- one of the best things about homeschooling is being able to rediscover the things you have always wanted to try but didn't have time for, or were afraid to try. Do puzzles with him, take him out on fun adventures, etc. If it were me, I would try to continue with counseling, and don't listen to anyone who doesn't want you in the room with him -- I think it's great that he wants you there, and you should make sure he knows that he can say anything to you or to his grandpa or a counselor, and you won't be upset -- you have to be his rock, and try not to get upset by the many ways he will try to shock you. Even the animal cruelty will go away once he feels good about himself -- everything you do right now should be about making him feel good about himself, and feel safe, as you've already said. It sounds like you seem to know a lot about what he needs, but support from counselors would likely be really helpful. I don't know what the law is in your state, but here in BC, Canada, the school would be required to provide counseling to him, even if he is homeschooling, if he is registered with that school as a homeschooler. I can't believe they are giving you a hard time about their loss of funding. There may be other ways to get funding for counseling (not through the school) -- maybe contact the foster parents associations for help?
I would really avoid punishments if you can. Punishment makes the parent feel like they are "doing something" about the misbehavior (not letting the child "get away with it"), but it really undermines the relationship you are building, and isn't usually effective anyway. It might be exhausting, and you will just have to have faith that his love for you will help him to finally want to please you rather than misbehave. He is testing the limits, and you have to be clear about what is and is not acceptable in your family, but show him that you trust him to learn to make good decisions, and think of it as helping him figure out how to operate in a loving family -- he has never had that before, and it will take him a while to learn. Punishment just undermines what you're trying to do, and obviously doesn't work anyway.
I would strongly recommend reading "Hold on to your kids" by Gordon Neufeld, as it will not only help with this little boy, but it might help you both work through any issues you may have had with your own parents, and any issues your husband may have had with his daughter. I certainly don't want to blame him for the struggles she has had in her life, but obviously the approach they took with her didn't work, and he would do well to look into more relationship-centered (rather than punitive) ways to raise children, now that he is doing it again.
What a blessing for all of you that he is in your lives now.
Hi again, Leanne,
I noticed this comment you made on a homeschooling thread, so I copied it and moved it here to reply to it, since it's relevant to this discussion...
"He refuses to call her mom, he always uses her christian name, more like she's his big sister, and one that he doesn't always like at that."
I think it's important to let him have whatever view of his mother that he wants to have -- she abused him terribly, and he doesn't owe her anything. He doesn't have a normal mother/child relationship with her, and while I'm sure he loves her, worries about her, etc, it sounds like she was never really a mother to him, and he shouldn't feel guilty about her.
Does he want to call you mom? I would let him take the lead on that, personally -- he may desperately need to have someone to fill that role of "mother" and you are certainly fitting the bill these days. I think I would just let him call everyone whatever he wants to call you all -- give him a little control over his family life, which he has never ever had before.
just my .02!
It really really sounds like he needs professional help. I wonder if you could find a child therapist who does play therapy? I am reading that book, "Playful Parenting" by Laurance Cohen right now and I can't believe how much benefit can come from play therapy. Maybe you would even benefit from reading it? It is not specifically for children with severe problems, but about how parents can use play everyday to connect with children and help them through life's difficulties. It isn't a hard read, and comes in paperback. You could probably even get a used copy online somewhere.
I really don't think he can afford for you to wait a few years to try again to get him help, I think you need to focus on finding him the right kind of help right now. I hope you can do it, I know if is very time consuming and very expensive.
getting a play therapist. More than one if you have to.
It will take a few sessions after all he has been through for him to open up I would bet
I have used a play therapist in the past . She was wonderful and I wish she hadn't moved away because I have another child who could benefit
So I heartily rec'd play therapist/s
We may have had a major breakthrough this morning, while he was complaining about math yet again, we're taking it really gentle right now and not pushing him at all, as usual he was staring out of the window and not doing much of anything at all, I sat down with him and started to explain how to do his math, and that I knew he could do it, at that point he looked striaght at me and I noticed tears in his eyes, so I closed his books took him over to the sofa cuddled him in and asked him what was wrong and was something bothering him, we finally got an answer.
His mom will be coming home at the end of July and he's realised how close this is, for some reason he thought he was going to go back to live with her and he dosen't want to, he cuddled in so hard and sobbed his little heart out, it seems that in the last letter that his mom sent to him she said something about him going back to stay with her once she gets home, that would be about 6 weeks ago(he normally asks us to read her letters with him, I had thought it was strange that he didn't when he got this one,and I'm almost sure that he threw it in the trash), when all the bad behaviour started (apart from the normal boysterous stuff that he always gets into). He told us that he wants to stay here with us, he feels safe here, he's scared of all the friends his mom always had in the house at all hours of the day and night, most of the time he had never seem them before, and he's always been a little scared of strangers,he loves that he has his own room here and dosen't have to share it with his mom or anyone else that might be there.
It seems that the damage he's done to various things over the last few weeks has happened when he has been thinking about this, he got angry and didnt mean to break anything...it just happened, his reaction would seem a normal one to him as his mom breaks anything she can get hold of when she's angry about something.
We have assured him that he;s not going back, maybe, if he wants to, he might want to spend a weekend with her, or perhaps a camping trip with her (he loves camping) but he absolutely will not have to go back and live with her, especially if he dosen't want to. He's never said a word about this until today, poor little thing has been trying to deal with all these mixed up feelings and thought he was being bad because he didn't want to live with his mom!!
We all sat down this afternoon and had a really good talk about everything that's worrying him,we've explained that its not going to happen and that he will always have his home here with us, he tearfully appologised for everything his done recently, by the time he got everything out we had him really laughing about all of it, kind of laughing and crying at the same time, he's sat cuddling in and watching TV ( some of his favorite programs on discovery and Nat Geographic) the rest of this afternoon, the decided that he was going to do some of his math, he got it all done in about 5 mins,which I was amazed at, he proudly gave me his book and said 'See grandma, you were right, I can do it", the rest of the day he has been in and out of the house, playing with the dogs, building things and singing and laughing most of the time.Once he got everything out he's a completely different little boy.
Maybe we should have realised that his Mom coming home would have brought some of this on, it's just something we didn't think of at all, we'll have to see how it goes over the next few weeks,especially as it gets closer to July and hopefully we have managed to put his mind at rest. We'll be keeping a close eye on him for a while but just let him be a little boy too, I'll have to close my eyes when he starts climbing the trees out back and keep my fingers crossed he dosen't fall out.
Thanks for all the wonderful suggestions from all of you, there is a couple of books mentioned that I will be looking out for.
to you and your sweet grandson
. That is
a breakthrough! I'm wowed that he can talk about his feelings. I'm also wowed by how loving and gentle you're being to him--I think that allows him to feel and then share with you all of his thoughts and worries. How fantastic that once the pressure was off of him, to only think "good" things about his mom, to have to go back with her etc. he was apologetic and trying to please you and proud of doing his math!
He'll probably waffle back and forth in his behavior. If the only way he's learned to handle anger is to break things, expect that sometimes. But, I'm so glad he feels safe with you and you are obviously doing such a great job of helping him to feel safe.
What a break through!!!