|It is All a Matter of Interpretation
To further your understanding of how to put love into action and to give you more practice putting "Beyond Consequences" into action, I've created a Pop Quiz for you. Breathe...this isn't like the pop quizzes you had when you were in school. It won't be graded and you won't get into trouble if you miss the correct answer!
Have fun with this and use it as a tool to liberate yourself from thinking in the old traditional fear-based way:
1. In preschool, a four-year-old boy does fairly well in class until it comes to Circle Time. When it is time to sit in a circle, he becomes demanding and insists on sitting next to his teacher. He refuses to make eye contact with anyone and sits turned away from his classmates.
|A. The child is being
defiant. He must learn to be respectful and join in the circle. If he
chooses not to sit in the circle like all the other children, he will
lose 10 minutes at recess and sit in Time-Out.
B. The child has ADHD and needs to be put on Ritalin immediately.
C. Circle time overwhelms this child. The direct eye contact with the other students is too much and the child is trying to buffer this by sitting half in and half out the circle. He is trying to find safety by sitting next to the teacher.
D. He needs to be given a choice to either be a "big boy" or be a baby. He should be told that if he can't act appropriately during Circle Time, he will be sent down to the nursery to be with all the babies. That way, it is his choice.
19-year-old young man still lives at home but has become so despondent
he refuses to get a job and hides away all day in his basement bedroom,
refusing even to come upstairs to join his mother for dinner.
|A. This young man is
being lazy and sees mom as a "freeride." Mom needs to tell him to get a
job or she needs to kick him out ("Shape up or ship out"). Tough love
is needed in order to get him to growup.
B. While he is 19-years-old chronologically, he is much younger emotionally. He is terrified of growing up and not ready to handle life as well as most 19-year-olds can. He is in a complete state of overwhelm; he is hiding in his "cocoon." Mom can start by going down to his room with dinner and eating with him, strengthening their relationship and working to calm his nervous system. She can offer her support and talk about ways to take babysteps into the "realworld."
C. He is clinically depressed and needs to be admitted to an in-patient unit immediately before he hurts himself.
D. There is nothing mom can do. He is 19-years-old and an adult. Mom needs to ignore him and move on with her life.
seven-year-old girl, who enjoys reading as a calming activity, becomes
upset in the classroom when her teacher sets a boundary and says, "no,"
to one of her requests. She runs out of the classroom, without
permission, and runs into the library. She immediately starts pulling
books off the shelf and piling them into a stack. She then runs to the
corner of the library, sits down, and starts reading the books.
|A. This child clearly
has problems with authority. She needs to learn to respect adults--NOW!
Otherwise, she'll be so out of control by the time she is
15-years-old, she'll be in juvie. Immediate punishment needs to be
administered in order to help her understand the importance of
B. This child's parents have spoiled her. She thinks she can do anything she wants to do, when she wants to do it. Since her parents are too easy on her, the school must step in and teach her rules and boundaries. The next time the class goes to the library, she will not be allowed to check-out books and will have to sit and watch the other children. She'll learn there is a time for books and that time will be determined by the teacher, not her.
C. This is a severe safety issue. She was running around the school unsupervised and the teacher didn't know where she was. This child needs to know that unsafe behaviors will NOT be tolerated. She needs to be taken directly to the seclusion room in order to keep both her and the other children in the school safe.
D. This child has a history of being rejected. When her teacher told her "no," she immediately had a traumatic reaction and slipped into a state of fear, believing she wasn't lovable or didn't deserve to be on this planet. She couldn't go to the teacher for comfort as the teacher was the source of the fear, so she turned to books in order to get regulated. Her ability to properly ask to go to the library was overridden by her need to survive.
12-year-old foster child digs through the family garbage even though he
is in a loving foster home that provides for all his food needs. There
is food in the pantry and his parents always make sure he is offered
seconds at meal-time.
|A. This boy needs
Reality Therapy. He and his parents need to go visit Costco. His
parents need to point out all the food that is available to them, even
if they run out at home. The bigness of Costco will help this boy
realize the amount of food his parents have access to so he knows he
won't have to dig into the garbage anymore.
B. In order to stop the nasty behavior of digging into the garbage, his parents need to give him a consequence. If he doesn't stop digging in the garbage, he won't be served dinner. He needs to learn that he can either eat the food from the garbage or the food served on a plate at dinner-time like the rest of the family.
C. This type of behavior comes directly from a past experience of not having enough food. This boy is hard-wired to protect himself. In the past, the adults in his life were unable to feed and provide for him. He is continuing to live in a state of survival, despite being in his new home. When his parents find him rummaging through the garbage, instead of addressing the behavior, they should address the root cause of the behavior by saying, "Son, you're going to be okay. You're not going to die. I'm here to make sure you have everything you need."
D. This child is doing this just to push his parents' buttons. He knows this behavior undermines everything they are trying to do for him and it is a way for him to push away their love and reject them. They need to do some intensive attachment therapy before he grows up to be Ted Bundy.
three-year-old girl refuses to take a bath at night. Each night she
goes into a complete meltdown and becomes belligerent. The intensity
increases even more when her mother tries to wash her hair.
|A. Her refusal to take
a bath is not defiance but fear. This type of extreme reaction is a
communication of an experience in the past that scared her. It is a
traumatic reaction. Mom can offer to sit next to her daughter while she
is in the tub to keep her safe and if this doesn't work, mom can offer
to get into the tub with her daughter (mom can wear a bathing suit if
that makes her feel more comfortable). In the tub together with Mom,
the child can have an experience of feeling safe and secure. Mom and
child can also make this into a fun time with bubbles and toys and
create a bonding time out of a chaotic moment.
B. At this age, it is important to teach this child to start making better choices. To break the power struggle, mom needs to offer her three choices: 1) earn stickers for each time she bathes without a struggle, 2) sit in Time-Out and miss her TV time if she has a melt-down, or 3) if these first two don't work, mom will wash her down in the shower because hygiene simply can't be ignored.
C. This child is being a brat. She needs a good swat on her rear-end to make sure she knows who is boss in this family--mom, not her.
D. Let the child go without a bath until she is ready. Forcing the issue will only make things worse. The child just needs some space to decide.
|Hopefully, the correct answer to each of these questions was obvious for you. If not, here they are: 1) C
2) B 3) D 4) C 5) A
Each of the above examples and their correct answers are true stories. The love-based interpretations and solutions given were all successful and helped each child to move from a state of fear, stress, and overwhelm, into a state of love, safety, and security.
If you enjoyed this "Pop Quiz," send me your examples and I'll continue this series for you!
|Heather T. Forbes, LCSW|
Parent and Author of Beyond Consequences, Logic & Control: Volume 1 & Volume 2, and Dare to Love
P.S. Check out my Ask the Expert Interview with Sherrie Eldridge, as she speaks out adoption, adopted children and how their parents are drawn closer. http://www.asktheexpertinterviews.com