This blog is my place to vent and share resources with other parents of children of trauma. I try to be open and honest about my feelings in order to help others know they are not alone. Therapeutic parenting of adopted teenagers with RAD and other severe mental illnesses and issues (plus "neurotypical" teens) , is not easy, and there are time when I say what I feel... at the moment. We're all human!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Katharine Leslie seminar - Coaching

Our job is to teach our children a whole new game plan with a completely different set of rules so that they can be successful members of our team and society. This is more info from Katharine Leslie's great book Coming to Grips with Attachment, which has much more details and even practice exercises.

1. Apply verbal explanations to bad/wrong behaviors aka "connecting the dots." Using as few words as possible, explain why the child is behaving that way and how the child feels (your guess is pretty accurate and better than the child's). You can ask the child to repeat your words to see if you got it right.
  • "You hit that child. You are scared of him."
  • "You are changing the subject. You are afraid of talking about this."
  • "You are out of your chair. You forgot to look around to see that others are not."
  • "You are bossing/ parenting. You want to control what's happening."
  • "You hugged that stranger. Hugging her is less scary for you than hugging me."

2. Coach or cue positive behaviors that you would like the child to perform.

Say to the child, "This is when you...

  • work hard because you want me to be proud of you."
  • bring me a book because you love me to read to you."
  • go tell that child you are sorry because you hurt him and you feel bad."
  • greet me at the door because you are hurt and need me to help you feel better."
  • move close to me because a stranger has just come in the room and that makes you nervous."

3. Coach or cue positive/truthful verbal interactions. If you ask the child the following statements she will likely deny the feelings and be defensive, but when they say the words it triggers a different part of the brain and they are less likely to feel defensive. When not in defense mode they can actually assess the words and the lesson behind the words might be internalized.

"This is when you say to me... (finish with the word "go" or "repeat.")

  • I feel embarrassed when I do something wrong. Go."
  • I am really worried about something."
  • I feel really angry when you tell me what to do."
  • I don't want to do my school work. School makes me feel dumb."
  • I like when we do arts and crafts. Thank you."
  • Thank you for helping me." "I needed it."
  • I don't want to do my chores. I want to play."

If your child does not respond to the cues the...

  • parent does not respond
  • parent says to the child, "You can try again later."
  • Parent is minimally responsive to the child until the child takes action either with words or behavior.


Never ask your child why. That makes them defensive.

Coaching -

  • Lowers the caregiver's expectations of love and reciprocity and prevents the child from pretending a parent-child relationship which he knows nothing of.
  • Allows caregivers to focus less on diminishing or changing highly resistant negative "stop" behaviors and focus more on teaching positive "start" behaviors (much more pleasant!)
  • Allows caregiver to distance themselves from their emotional reactions to the child's behavior.


GB's Mom said...

So much to take in! Thanks for sharing. said...

we coach a lot when we are dealing with "big feelings" it helps because someitmes they have a hard time just getting it out of their heads.

Radical Melody said...

I need to get better at coaching. I don't think it qualifies as coaching if it's said through clenched teeth. (But I've notched myself back from yelling. :)

Radical Melody said...

Mary --

Thanks for your helpful comment. I will, indeed, find the blog you recommended. I need inspiration right now. I feel like all I'm aspiring to is tolerability.

I read about RAD teens, especially boys, and thank God I'm not in that position. The whole concept of the child being stronger than me and the sexual overtones . . . that's why I'm frantic to get this under control now.

I reread Katharine's intro to that book on occasions that I need to dig up more compassion and patience. It helps me more than anything else to remember that she is not acting these ways on purpose. My daughter is very controlling and it has been challenging for me to understand the difference between controlling and intentional.

I look forward to getting to know you more.


marythemom said...

For help remembering they're not doing it on purpose I like Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control. I dont find it helps me much in helping the kids actually get better and I have to remember it's not my fault if they don't (these authors do a little too much parent blaming in my opinion, but it really, really helps me understand why the kids act the way they do).

For staying calm I like the Love and Logic books. They don't work very well on our kids (because they expect the kids to mature and do things because they want to please their parents), but they help me back off and coach instead of getting emotionally involved.

Another FANTASTIC blogger is Christine over at
search her site for her video series. The pee song will make you laugh until you cry (or pee your pants if your bladder is anything like mine!). The training series are priceless.

Mary in TX