Part 1 is available HERE.
After my talk, the mother I knew approached and thanked me. “It was very useful.” She said.
I smiled and said I was so glad it was useful.
She said that at the center, they will do the breathing and the tapping exercises together every evening, with the children.
She said, “I realize I am no better than children. I have all this thing.”
I exhaled slowly. Maybe I didn’t express this enough in my talk. I reiterated that all people experience trauma. Even adults.
She said that when she returned to the center after visiting home for the first time in a year, she stayed in bed for three days.
I nodded fast and said, “That’s normal.”
She shook her head. “I used to be better than normal. I used to be strong. Now I forget everything.”
If she looked around the other moms, she would notice that they are all experiencing the same difficulties. But many people become hyper critical and can only focus on themselves when things are going wrong.
She continued. “My daughter want go park. She pull me and say “Mama. Park. We must.”
I complimented her on going to the park with her 13-year-old daughter so she could rollerblade.
“When there I happy. My daughter happy.”
I told her that it was good that she was going with her daughter even when she wasn’t in the mood.
We started using the translate program. “But when I go to the park, I am happy. I sit on the bench and enjoy my moment. But still hard for me to get there. My daughter has to pull me there.”
I told her this was normal. I asked if she wanted to make it easier for them to go to the park.
“Yes. This is what I want. I’m tired of everything being an obstacle for me.”
I nodded and told her that for now on, every Monday and Wednesday she would take her daughter to the park, before lunch.
She looked at me.
“You will have a schedule. On these days you will go to the park.” I suggested that she add cleaning to the schedule, laundry and even shopping. On the scheduled days you must do the things on the list.
She nodded. Her breathing was more regular. “I used to run. Now I don’t want to, but it helps my brain if I run every day.”
I asked her if she had her running shoes with her.
I told her that tomorrow she had to put on her running shoes. That’s all. No running.
She said okay.
Then the next day you have to put on your running shoes and walk to the end of the property. That’s all.
She brightened and said she could do that.
The day after that she was to walk two blocks. That’s all.
“Yes. I can do that.”
I nodded and told her that the next day she could run for two minutes and the day after that, run for four minutes, no more.
She thanked me and said she could do that. “Like baby walking.” She laughed.
“Yes.” I smiled. “Baby steps.”
A young mother stepped forward. After kind pleasantries, she wanted to know if she could ask me a question.
She said that her three-year-old daughter will not listen to her.
I nodded and asked her what was going on.
She explained through the app that no matter what she said to her daughter, her daughter would say, “No.”
I asked what happened after her daughter said no.
“I explain to her why she must. I remind her that we have to wear shoes. I beg her. I offer her toys and tell her all the fun we will have when they are on. I finally put her shoes on for her.”
I told her that three-year-olds can be very difficult and that this behavior is common. I tried to help her understand that when her daughter says ‘No’ that she can be stronger and say, “Yes. You must.”
I said that maybe when her daughter refuses to put on her shoes, then she cannot go to the store. “Have her remain at the center with another mom.” I added that her daughter should feel the loss of not following the rules.
I explained the idea of who is the “Boss” in a situation. The boss can either be her or her daughter.
The mom looked down and then looked at me. “She wasn’t this way at home.”
I nodded and told her that children change as they age, that she was suffering from trauma from the move and that her daughter could feel her pain over the circumstances.
The young mom said that she hides her feelings from her daughter.
I smiled and assured her that her daughter could tell when she was upset. I reminded her that it’s okay to be upset. It’s okay to struggle. It’s okay to feel off balance. But it’s not okay for her daughter to refuse to go to sleep at night.
She said that her daughter always listened to her father.
I sighed and said that it is a very big change for her daughter to be away from him, but she still had to listen to her mother.
As a special education teacher, I was getting the feeling that this girl was going to need extra support. I couldn’t tell what gave me this feeling.
She added that now she refuses to eat; she only wants dessert.
I said. “Me too! I only want dessert.”
We laughed together.
She said, “Me too!”
I asked if there were certain foods that she would eat.
“No. Now she refuses to eat even the foods she likes.”
I said, “When she refuses to eat, wrap the meal and put it in the refrigerator. Later when she is hungry, take out that same meal so she can eat it.”
The mother nodded and said she could do that and asked for an idea to get her ready to get her ready for bed faster.
These are the same tips I offer to the parents of students in my classroom. Trauma isn’t the only indicator of having a willful child. Many children don’t like to follow rules.
I said, “After dinner, have her put on her pajamas and brush her teeth right away. Remind her that when she is done, she will have time to play. If it takes her a long time, no worries. She’s just using up her play time.”
The mom smiled and said that would work. Then she said it again so quietly, it was as if she were saying it to herself and not to me, “That will work.”
Her daughter ran into the room and swatted her mother’s leg, turned to the adults in the room to see if she got a “rise” out of us, then ran out again.
She was seeking negative attention with a gleam in her eye. I was right. This girl was going to need extra support.
Her mother ignored her.
I complimented her on trying to figure out her daughter. I added that she might find a mom who could be her mentor at the center. One who has good control over children in a kind way who might give her advice. “There are many good examples here. Use these moms and ask for help.” Then added that when her daughter started school, she should ask the teachers for help, right away.
She looked surprised. “Yes. I will ask.”
The moms asked if I could return so they could ask me more questions, then their gazes fell on the children’s books. They leafed through them and held them up for each other.
Judging by their voices, we had chosen well.
Yes. I will return.
If you’d like to see the workshop slides on Trauma Informed Parenting, click HERE: (You might need to pause the movie to read the slides.)
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