Wow… in the midst of all of this craziness… I forgot to blog! Sorry for everyone waiting on updates.
Well last Tuesday, September 14th, our case worker (CW) came for her monthly check-in. The girls were happy to see her, but after she left, our 4 year old went into a tail spin of tantrums. We had a tantrum Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, close call Saturday, and Sunday was the worst yet. She did great Monday, but Tuesday we had another. Wednesday she did really well.
The worst part about a hurt child, is they want you to feel how hurt they are. She has done this now by hitting our dog (thankfully she just kicked her the once and hasn’t been aggressive since), by cussing and calling every one in our house ugly names, by physically hitting, biting, spitting at/on me, and by making very vivid scary statements like she is going to kill us, shoot us, stab us, pull out our eye balls.
It is VERY difficult hear and see her in this state. I KNOW she can’t control it. I know she wants to be able to though.
Last Sunday, when she hit our dog, we were ready to throw in the towel. I don’t want her to be violent towards anything, but especially not our defenseless dogs who love her SO much!
I posted our concerns on the forums and I had some people that bashed me, to be expected considering how long she’s been with us, and that we’re her 4th home in four years, but at the same time, they don’t live in my nightly hell!
I love the girls though, and I know we can work through this. We were tossing around the idea of disrupting, but hadn’t fully decided. My husband and I both were just sick over the idea of it. Which in the end meant we couldn’t live with ourselves if we did it. We’ve since gotten more info from our CW to get additional in-home therapy and assistance.
So I went into “fix it” mode. I spent my time figuring out what tools will help her. We watched a great video from Dr. Bryan Post at http://www.postinstitute.com/ that put things into perspective for us.
He covers the three pathways of emotion:
First is “Attitude” this would be the best pathway to use, when someone asks you to do something, you roll your eyes, or sigh/growl, BUT it is a health expression despite what our parents said! :)
Second is “Feelings” this would be the next pathway preferable. Using this pathway you would voice that you don’t like/want something.
Third is “Behaviors” the least desired. When you’ve not been able to express through attitude and feelings, you’re merely left with expression through behaviors!
Right now, we’re in the behavior zone with our 4 year old. Hence, tantrums! It can take 6 months to a year to move back up the ladder to feelings. Thankfully she is young. She IS doing so well though with the feelings part. We’re working very hard on using our words. I also bought her an “Emotions” chart at the local teacher supply store. This is helping tremendously. If she can’t verbalize her present feelings she can go point to the feelings on her chart. Here is the exact chart we have:
Tuesday afternoon we went over all of the emotions. We talked about times when we felt certain emotions. I focused on the positives, then two negatives (afraid and sad) then back to the positives.
During her Tuesday night tantrum, I had her point to how she feels. She continually chose “Afraid” and “Loved”. That speaks VOLUMES to me! That even though she is afraid, she still knows she is loved. Her tantrum got worse and worse, she was sucking her thumb and at some points just seemed so “out of it”.
At the end of the tantrum I was holding her, and I kept repeating, “Go away fits, I am safe and loved here”. I said it over and over as I rocked her. Then I saw her mouthing what I was saying, but I couldn’t hear the words.
Then the tantrum was over. She went to bed with no further issues.
The next day, when she got home from school (Wednesday) she was SO proud of not having any fits at school. We had therapy Wednesday morning, and at drop off she cried and didn’t want me to leave her at school. I just walked away, I knew it wouldn’t end well otherwise. Wednesday night, she said “Mommy I won’t have no fits tonight”. I said, “I know you won’t! I am so proud of you!”. Then she said if she gets a fit in her head, she will tell it to “Go away, because she is happy and safe”. I added that she is also LOVED! She just nodded.
So Wednesday night, she didn’t have any tantrums. We did start Melatonin at bedtime, per her doctor’s approval. I gave it to her at and she was out cold at . Hopefully that will ease her separation anxiety from me at night.
The next issue we’re going to tackle IS the anxiety. She doesn’t want to be left alone, ever. I can’t pee alone, I can’t get away from her at night, and she doesn’t want to leave for school when my husband drops her off. So I think addressing the anxiety will help with the tantrums too.
More to come soon!