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!

Friday, August 31, 2012

Books and Methods Review - Methods - FAIR Club

The FAIR Club

Marythemom:  This is the discipline method we use at our house.  It is a compilation of selections of everything I’ve ever learned about parenting.  It is ever changing to account for the fact that our children and their needs are ever growing and developing.  The premise is that life is not fair, nor do we want it to be.

The FAIR Club is best used for children who are able to understand abstract concepts emotionally and intellectually. For children under the age of 7 and those emotionally younger (post about determining emotional age), I recommend therapeutic parenting (providing structure and support and setting the child up for success - more like child proofing than consequencing). We discovered that the structure and support of being in the FAIR Club really worked for our children who were physically older, but emotionally under the age of 7 or 8 so they lived in the FAIR Club - we just stopped calling it that. (Post about the Structure and Caring Support we use).

We expect our children to learn to be Respectful, Responsible, Honest, and Fun To Be Around, Loving and Learning  (RRHAFTBALL – pronounced “Raft ball”) in order to enjoy the rights and responsibilities that go with being part of our loving family.

We do NOT try to make everything equal for everyone.  We respect that each of our children has a different personality, is a different age, and has different wants, needs and abilities.  Unlike the FAIR Club, being part of our family means we sometimes cut the child some slack and sometimes we have higher expectations for our children. We’re here to help the child live up to being
more than average or equal.


R – Respectful
– You are expected to be kind, courteous, and helpful in everything you say or do.  Think before you act and remember words and actions can leave irreparable scars on your relationships.

R – Responsible – You are expected, and fully capable of, meeting your rights and responsibilities as listed here.  You are also responsible for taking care of yourself, and taking care of the people around you –especially the people that love you.

H – Honest – Not only does this mean not lying, but includes being honest and true to yourself.  It also means being open and honest about your feelings and needs to those who love you and are trying to help you (like therapists and parents).

AFTBA – Attitude/ Fun To Be Around – You are expected to be fun to be around all the time. This is not easy to do, but you are capable of it. This does not mean that you must be happy at all times!  It simply means that you are not to "inflict yourself" on others when you are not in a good mood. If you are not feeling fun to be around, then you need to think about how to fix this (you can ask for help with this), or how to protect others from your bad mood or whatever is making you not fun to be around (this might mean staying away from others while you work this through).  Think about others.  How are they feeling?  If they are upset, is it helping if you are talking about your latest accomplishment?  Use a pleasant, calm voice.  This does not mean you can’t get excited or talk about things you are interested in, it just means others have rights too – do they want to hear the “I hate Barney” song or anything else sung at the top of your voice while they are stuck sitting next to you in the car?


Added after our children had been with us for awhile:

L – Loving - Sharing and caring.  We watch out for (actively helping) the emotional and physical well being of all family members including ourselves.  This means having give and take in our relationships with each other (not expecting others to do all the work and caring).  We work on issues we might have with being loving.  Isolating yourself is not usually going to help you with this. 

L – Learning- We are always trying to improve ourselves and our lives.  We educate ourselves both in school and about being a better person.  We want to be productive, helpful citizens of the world.  We believe we should be the best person we can possibly be.

The FAIR Club - If a child is not being RRHAFTBALL or is complaining that life is not fair, then they go in the FAIR Club.  The FAIR Club is designed to provide boundaries and additional support while the child practices and gains (or regains) the ability to be RRHAFTBALL.  This involves removing a lot of the distractions and drains of life (like electronics, phone, friends, even where to sit) and adds ways of dealing with stress (earlier bedtime, spending time with parents who can role model, only going places as a family).  

To demonstrate they are ready to get out of the FAIR Club, the child must be RRHAFTBALL and complete their writing assignment and extra chore.  Assignments and consequences are based on the child’s developmental age, Logical Consequences and restitution.  There is a minimum of 24 hours that a child can be in the FAIR Club, but no maximum.  

If a child refuses to do the assignments or be RRHAFTBALL, that is their choice.  They will remain in the FAIR Club until they are ready.

This takes a LOT of pressure off the parent.  Unlike other techniques, you don’t have to nag the child to do the assignment or let a child who is being horrid off grounding just because their time is up.  They will figure out pretty quickly that “fair” is not fun!

Ex:  My two girls were found playing with Bratz dolls that had been confiscated and put in my closet. One of them took them out, but neither ever admitted to it.  Both knew the dolls were confiscated.  The 10 year old is is neurotypical and is not adopted.  The 11 year old was recently adopted, has learning disabilities, (at the time undiagnosed) RAD and bipolar disorder, and emotionally/developmentally about 4 years old – although intellectually she was much closer to grade level.

Writing Assignment- Write down your version of what happened (do NOT work on this with your sister). Because you lied, did something you knew was wrong, and gave us attitude (and maybe stole from us) we no longer feel we can trust you.  List 5 things you can do to rebuild trust with us. How would you feel if we lied, stole, and gave YOU attitude? Why? Why do you think we don’t do this to you?  Write down at least 5 reasons you think we may not like Bratz dolls.

The very bright 10 year old was told this should take at least 3 pages.  She completed the assignment independently.  The 11 year old needed a lot of emotional support throughout the process.  A parent wrote down her answers to the questions and she received a lot of assistance coming up with responses.

My 14 yr old teenage son with RAD who had been caught lying repeatedly and trying to intimidate people into not holding him accountable: 

Extra Chore: You will find a different person every night to help in some way.  Once your writing assignment is complete you need to use the last question to start trying to rebuild trust.

Writing Assignment: _ Read the articles about trust and lies.  Answer all the questions that follow.

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