Saturday, November 24, 2012

What to Make of It

a leafy row next to a naked row all in one orchard  ~ 

We're flip flopping here.

Missy is doing fairly well today. She's even singing Christmas Carols.

Yesterday was interesting. Not even sure what I make of it yet. She was crabby and extremely unhappy to start with.  Everything brought a snarl and un-thankful words. I got the idea that I should curb the ungrateful spirit by bringing out the opposite in her somehow, someway.

Christina did her hair for her. I prompted her, "What do you say to Christina for doing your hair for you?"


lol.... and we were on a roll.

I had her sit down and think of some nice things to say to Christina. It took her a full hour to finally come up with something worth speaking.

Minutes later she was crabbing at everybody over her bowl of oatmeal. Actually she was claiming James' bowl which he'd already eaten out of and saying it was hers and was having a fit for no other reason that I could see other than to just cause a raucous.

I had her come sit by me to think of something nice to say to each one. This caused her to lose it a bit. She refused and the ugly words came pouring out. I could bore with details, but I won't.... this was most of our day. I worked with her patiently. I talked with her. I sang happy songs. I kept her on the piano bench near me always encouraging her to think of something nice to say in place of the awful words.

And she spiraled.  DOWN. DOWN. DOWN.

Even when her favorite person from church showed up at the door she was surly and nasty and did not even greet her. 

I had to go help the girls with something outside for a bit and I mentioned that I didn't know what to do anymore. Everything I had tried only brought out the worst in her.

Christina said, "Well, she is really enjoying all the negative attention!"

*Light bulb*

I was like, "YOU are SO RIGHT!"

And I sent the child off to her room and I drove away to run an errand. So glad I moved her to the room closer so I am aware of all her doings in there.  Things got better. I only let her out to eat and stuff like that. I did not allow her to stand in the doorway and shout and whine at me. She had to ask for every little thing. She played with her dolls and talked to herself and by evening I could let her out of the bedroom to play with James because the attitude was dissipating. She woke up different this morning and she had a decent day. Occasionally she started to use negative language today and we had her think of something kind to say in it's place, but it hasn't been anything like Friday.

We went for a walk down the road in the dark. She laughed and played running and jumping on our shadows very much like a happy child should. I have no idea what I am suppose to learn from the last two days. The harder I try the worse things get. If I have her play alone for a few hours she might decide to change her attitude so she can join the family. That is so opposite of what the experts tell us we are suppose to be doing.

She's asked a dozen times if she can go back to school on Monday.


Barbara said...

I've been thinking about your situation a lot. I so respect you for giving so much of your self for needy children. You are such a blessing to them. You are making a difference. Here is my outside-looking-in point of view. I know I don't have the whole story. I am wondering if she might be feeling that she can't be good enough at home, so why try? People at school and church don't have the job of improving the negative traits in her character, so they praise the good they see, and love her. I have a puppy at home to raise now. It is like have a baby, and then a toddler in the house. She makes messes on the floor, she chews on things, she is teething and tries to chew on pant legs, and hands. What we are learning is that she needs some discipline for the negative, but that she needs a whole lot of praise and reward for the positive. I think in parenting we can get so focused on what isn't going right, that we can't see what is going right. I saw a 4-H dog trainer with a little dog that didn't know much yet. She had a clicker and was clicking every time the dog did something right, even just looking at her, or moving in her direction. The click marks the good behavior. Dog trainers also treat, which you might not want to do. But if you are creative, maybe you can think of a treat that can add up to go into the next meal. When you don't have food to give the dog, you treat with praise and petting. How much better to hear praise then correction. There needs to be a balance, but their really should be much more praise then correction. And if that is how God wants us to talk to Him, I have a feeling that is how he wants us to talk to one another. I learned that my sister, who works in a pre-school uses a clicker now in her classroom to audibly mark good behavior. She says it works and really helps behaviorally challenged kids. The really fun thing is that it switches the focus for you too. (By the way, not all things in dog training correlates with child training, but there might be something here we could learn from. If you don't have a clicker, you can get them at pet stores for a couple dollars or so.) I am just wondering what would happen if more energy and emotion were put into the positive for this precious girl. I'd just love to hear about her overflowing with joy and feeling good about the things she does do right.) I know God will guide you through this, and that all your efforts are not wasted.

Emily said...

Sometimes the kid defies the experts and you have to just do what works. My littlest daughter was badly neglected, and according to the experts, I shouldn't isolate her ever. However, sometimes she just needs time by herself because she doesn't have enough self control to rein in her bad behavior when she starts down that slippery slope. Once the insults start, she gets worse and worse. Removing her from her targets is the only thing that will stop her. She loves to be nasty and contrary. She loves even more to argue when I try to correct her. She also loves any attention I give her when she's being nasty and contrary. I think it is because when her nastiness draws me in, she has exerted power over me. I've been trying something with her this week, at the suggestion of a friend whose son has ODD. When she starts the meanness, I quietly set her up in the laundry room (because she shares a room with her sisters) with a quiet activity a puzzle, magnetic paper dolls, coloring, and tell her to enjoy playing by herself until she is ready to get along with us. She can take as much time as she needs. When she's in the laundry room, I completely ignore her. I don't acknowledge anything she says, even if she says horrible things, because acknowledging her gives her power. When I turn a deaf ear to her, she quickly tires of being insulting. It seems to help her regulate herself. If she asks me nicely for something, I will give it to her. But anything spoken unkindly I ignore.
I save my teaching for times when she is happy and not in confrontation mode, which is usually when we're eating a snack together. She isn't always receptive, but sometimes she is, and the conversations we have then are far more effective than anything I say in the heat of the moment.
Sometimes when she's in a good mood, we play the Sweetness Game. We take turns telling each other things we like about each other. I might compliment her on the sunshine in her smile. She might say she likes how I make good tuna sandwiches. We go back and forth for a few minutes. We both enjoy this game.
It might just be that Missy benefits from the quiet of having some time to herself, regardless of what the experts say. I hope this is helpful. Know that you are not alone.

rachel said...

You and Emily are both describing my daughter to a T!!!! I have done everything I know. She came to me at three months old and nothing except love and acceptance and joy has been poured into her since then. But at eight years old, she is nasty and negative most of the time. Once it starts, nothing will stop it except removing her from the situation. Not that that helps the root of the problem, but for now I don't know what else to do. She doesn't have RAD, her diagnosis is ptsd. I am praying about taking her to National Association of Child Development. God would have to provide the money, that's for sure.
Lord, pour your wisdom and strength upon us parents!

~marci~ said...

Sometimes the "experts" are wrong....

Vertical Mom said...

While I certainly don't have RAD, I am an introvert. When I am feeling just plain nasty, the last thing I should do is spend time with people. I need some time to myself to gather my thoughts and cool off. If I am forced to be with people when I'm feeling out of sorts, no matter how kind and affectionate they are, it only makes things worse. Perhaps Missy's personality just needs a break from the opportunity to blow a gasket. Once she is taken out of the cycle, she can breathe, refocus and come back with a clearer head. I can TOTALLY relate!