If a child continues to act out while in the FAIR Club, we usually just take this as a sign that:
- They may not be ready for the FAIR Club. A lot of kids of trauma are emotionally much younger than their chronological age. The FAIR Club works best with kids who have enough cognitive and emotional skills and insight to learn from their mistakes. That does NOT mean you shouldn't use it if your child is quite there yet, BUT be aware that for now you are "setting the groundwork," not making a whole lot of progress. Like telling a 2 year old to "Use their words," they probably aren't old enough yet to understand it, but the repetition and role modeling is needed for when that part of their brain is ready. If this is the case, then I recommend "catching" your child being good (loosely defined) and letting them out of the FAIR Club ASAP. Do whatever you need to do to help them meet the assignments so they still feel they got a consequence for the behavior that got them in the FAIR Club. (Ex. "I like how you didn't yell at your sister when she took the first cookie. I know that's usually very hard for you. I think you're ready to be out of the FAIR Club, but I know you haven't finished your writing assignment yet. Tell you what, I think if we sit down and talk about it (or "would it help if I wrote it for you"), that will be OK this time," or "I know you haven't finished your chore yet, so I'd like to help you with it." This technique is also useful if you realize your assignment wasn't appropriate or is too much for your child, and you need to modify it.
- The child is testing you to see what happens if they pitch a big enough fit - will you let them out of the consequences? This is something they've usually learned very well - if you throw a big enough fit, the adult will let it go and/or give in. Unfortunately we have to be VERY consistent with never giving in once we've made a decision (although we can modify it if we're careful). When I was training one of our dogs (no, I'm not really equating my children with animals, just go with me here!), the trainer taught us to reward the dog with a treat EVERY time they did the trick. After awhile, you start rewarding the dog occasionally, and eventually only rarely do you give them a treat. The dog will do the trick consistently in the hope that THIS is the time that he gets a reward. Unfortunately it works the same way with bad habits too. Ex. If your dog is not allowed on the couch, but if you're having a really bad day you might let him up to cuddle... the dog will jump up on the couch EVERY SINGLE TIME in the hopes that this is the time you allow it.
- Proof that they are not ready to be out of the FAIR Club - this is why it's not like grounding which has an ending time. We need the child to be RRHAFTBALL to get out of the FAIR Club, and sometimes it takes longer for kids of trauma to be able to get regulated enough to do this. Unfortunately, my children showed they needed the structure and support of the FAIR Club 24/7.
- That the additional structure and support we have provided in terms of making life "fair" is not enough. The child needs, probably extra help with emotional regulation. A child constantly in the FAIR Club, especially after the initial struggle/defiance due to not liking Mommy finding a new form of discipline, is usually demonstrating that there is something wrong with "normal life." If you haven't already, this is when I would look at ways to reduce stress, like stripping the child's room of all but bed and a sleep toy, dropping the homework battle - attachment and emotional regulation are MUCH more important - you don't need a well-educated sociopath! Avoiding stressful/ overwhelming situations - like having a lot of kids over after school, shopping, doing ANYTHING when your child is tired, hungry and/ or ill... Our most important job is finding ways to help your child attach emotionally, so you can help your child emotionally regulate and learn coping skills.
Our kids are under EXTREME stress and trauma, and acquiring and USING coping skills is VERY difficult, especially in the heat of "battle." If you feel like you're living in a war zone (which our kids with PTSD usually are) then you're focused on survival and living in the instinctual part of the brain - where reactions are limited to fight/ flight/ freeze (F/F/F). It's tough on us, as parents, but I try to remember that when my child is in F/F/F mode they are not really "home." The thinking part of their brain is turned off, and they are UNABLE to access it.
We almost never add consequences to a child in the FAIR Club while the child is in F/F/F mode. In fact we usually try not to speak to them, but instead think of them like a cornered animal - and wait until they are calm enough to accept comforting. (I usually try to provide emotional regulation by doing NOISY, slow breathing, with lots of deep breaths, in the hope that my child will unconsciously start to match my emotional regulation. If I'm unable to be regulated, and it's possible, then I will tag-team with my husband or another adult who gets it, until I am.
Occasionally, after the child is calm and regulated, we will sit down and talk about what happened. SOMEtimes we will give a consequence, but most of the time we just accept it as more evidence that they need additional assistance (and are not ready to be out of the FAIR Club).
If we're not talking about raging behaviors, and a child is a "repeat offender" who gets into trouble while still in the FAIR Club, I will often assign sections from the FAIR Club Exam as part of their writing assignment. The children don't take the whole exam. Just the parts that apply. The exam is obviously tailored to our family and the individual circumstances. Sometimes we put the child on "probation." (See examples).
FAIR ExamUse your most beautiful handwriting and complete sentences.
1. Look up Vindictive in the dictionary. Write the definition here. __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. Mom was vindictive when she put the kitty poop under everyone’s bed. True / False
3. Mom’s goal for putting the kitty poop under everyone’s bed was so they would understand how it feels to have to smell kitty litter every night while she is trying to sleep. Do you think she achieved her goal? Yes / No
4. What was Tony’s response to Mom putting the cat poop under his bed? __________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
5. If you act vindictive are other people likely to understand why you are upset and apologize or are they more likely to get revenge? (Apologize / Revenge)
6. On a separate sheet of paper, give a 3 sentence description of 2 times when you wanted to be vindictive. (At least one sentence should describe your feelings). Then, for each description tell how the person you were angry/ upset with might have reacted to your behavior. Last, write at least 2 ideas on how else you could handle it so that the person understood why you were upset and what you could have done to help solve the issue.
Example (you need to use different examples!):
Description: Ms. P told me that my work was wrong and I needed to redo it. I felt that she was picking on me and was very angry with her because I don’t like being criticized. I wanted to yell at her and get her fired.
Person’s response: If I yelled at her she would get very angry with me and would probably yell back. If I tattled or complained while I was still upset to Ms. M, Mom, or Ms. B they might not believe me and I might get into trouble.
How I could have handled it: After I calmed down, I could have written a letter to Ms. P telling her how I feel when she talks to me this way. I could write a letter (maybe with someone’s help) telling Ms. M and Ms. B how I feel and what I think might help make the issue better.
1. Why is trust a good thing to have in a relationship? (circle all that apply)
a. You can get away with breaking rules because no one thinks you would do that.
b. If something goes wrong people don’t assume you did it.
c. Everybody needs love, and you can’t have love without trust.
d. The more people trust you the more responsibilities and privileges you will get.
e. This is a trick question, trust is not really necessary.
f. People aren’t afraid of you because they know you will not hurt them.
g. People will loan you their things because they know you will give them back or replace it if it gets lost or broken.
h. You can try new things and go new places without having to check with anyone if it’s OK - but you tell them anyway because you know that they like to know what you are doing.
i. You feel safe, because you know the people around you have your best interest at heart.
j. You can ask for help, and no one will think you are stupid or annoying – and they will help you.
k. You don’t have to apologize or try to fix it if you do something wrong.
l. People don’t accuse you of lying or stealing all the time.
2. What is the best way to develop trust?
a. Always try hard to do your best at everything you do.
b. Have the best interest of others in mind when making a decision.
c. When you do something wrong or make a mistake you admit it and try to make things better.
d. All of the above.
3. Write 2 specific things you can do to develop trust (different from question 2).
The following are rules about eating in our house – with some reasons why. Fill in the blanks or circle the correct answer.
1. No food or drinks in bedrooms. Do not leave out plates, bowls, wrappers, silverware, and /or _____________ after meals or snacks.
a. It attracts rodents and bugs;
b. Spoiled food smells really ________________;
c. Unrefrigerated food can go bad and give people stomach _________________ or diarrhea.
d. Leaving dishes all over the house means we _______out of cups and bowls more often.
e. When the cats eat people food they ________________________ or get diarrhea.
f. When people visit our home they do not want to see ____________________ dishes, wrappers, and spoiled food everywhere.
2. No snacking after 11am, after 5pm, and after dinner.
a. If your ________________ is full of snacks you won’t be hungry for dinner.
b. Snack food is not as good for you so you need to save ______________ in your tummy for healthier foods.
c. Snack food costs a lot (more/ less) than regular food.
d. Getting up in the middle of the night to eat means you aren’t getting enough sleep and you will probably wake up (mommy/ daddy/ everyone).
e. If you eat up special treats, it is (more/ less) likely that we will buy/make more.
3. Breakfast foods are to be eaten for breakfast. Lunch and dinner foods are not to be eaten for_________________________.
a. If you eat cereal and other breakfast foods for snacks then we will run out sooner.
b. Often the food in the fridge/ freezer/ pantry is to be _____________ for a meal.
4. No cooking or preparing food without the supervision of an (adult/ sibling/ cat).
a. You need _______________________ to get food in the pantry that could be cooked, because it is not on an approved shelf. The (first/ second/ any) shelf is the one that has approved snacks.
b. Often the food in the fridge/ freezer/ pantry is to be _____________ for a meal.
c. You need to earn trust and prove you are responsible enough to prepare food. To do this you must show that you know how to follow a recipe and know how to (measure / guess) the ingredients.
d. You must also earn trust by always remembering to ________________ up your messes.
5. If you leave empty wrappers, pig out on snack food, eat in the middle of the night, aren’t hungry at mealtime, keep food in your room, leave big messes, cook without approval, whine and beg for special treats, hide treats from everyone else, and don’t share, Mom will most likely:
a. Accuse you when food goes missing, and not believe you if you deny it.
b. Stop buying treats for the whole family.
c. Start locking up the food.
d. All of the above.
Adults have different roles in your life. Most of them have authority over you.
1. Look up Authority in the dictionary. Write the definition here. ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
2. List some people in your life who have authority over you (ex. parents, police officers...). ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
3. Which of the following people do NOT have authority over you and you should not listen to. You need to tell a parent or other caregiver if you are having a problem with this.
a. Friends who are telling you to do something dangerous or illegal.
b. Siblings who are not relaying a message from a caregiver.
c. Adults who tell you to do something you know is dangerous or illegal.
d. All of the above.
4. A caregiver can include your parents, your teachers, your principal, your after-school providers, your nanny, sometimes your therapist or doctors, your grandparents, the parent’s of your friends if you are in their home…. Circle all of the following choices that are things that your caregivers are allowed to do.
a. Tell you to do your schoolwork.
b. Check your homework/ school work and tell you to redo it.
c. Tell you when and what you may eat.
d. Tell you that you HAVE to eat something or that you have to eat all of what they give you.
e. Give you medicine and make sure you take it.
f. Look at your private parts (not including exams at the doctor’s office).
g. Tell you to do your chores.
h. Tell you to do or stop doing something even though a parent said you could or couldn’t do it.
i. Tell you to do something dangerous or illegal.
j. Search your room or personal property.
k. Call you names like stupid, ugly or bad.
l. Restrain/ hold you if you are unable to control yourself or are threatening to hurt yourself or others.
m. Tell you that you are doing something wrong.
n. Criticize you loudly in public or in front of your friends or siblings.
o. Yell at you, hit you, or deliberately hurt you.
p. Tell you that you need to stop doing what you are doing.
q. Tell you that you must be respectful of them and others.
r. Remove your personal items from your room.
s. Tell you that you cannot watch TV, play outside, talk to certain friends, or talk on the telephone.
t. Watch you while you use the restroom, take a shower, or change clothes.
5. If an adult is telling you to do something you don’t agree with, you don’t like a family rule, or someone is breaking the rules. The ONE thing you must do is:
a. Yell at the person you don’t agree with
b. Refuse to do it
c. Tell a caregiver
d. Write down your complaint and give it to Mom or Dad
e. Go ahead and break the rule too
f. Tell Mom and Dad about it
g. Call an emergency family meeting.
Schoolwork / Chores
Work and chores are an important part of your life. EVERYONE has to work and do chores, even babies are doing very important work (learning how to cope with the world around them and get their needs met – this starts out by crying to get others to do it for them, until they are old enough to start helping themselves). As you get older your responsibilities and privileges increase.
1. In our house EVERYONE has chores to do. (True/ False)
2. The more trust you earn by being responsible, the more privileges you get. (True / False)
3. If someone says they will do your chores for you, you are no longer responsible for them getting done. (True / False).
4. You have schoolwork, because:
a. You are being punished because you misbehave.
b. Your parents want you to be smarter than everyone.
c. Your parents want to boost your skills to help you achieve your goals.
d. Your parents think you are stupid and need all the help you can get.
5. If you do your chores slowly, poorly, or not at all.
a. It won’t matter because Daddy doesn’t give allowances anyway.
b. You will not be acting responsibly so are not RRHAFTBALL and will end up in the FAIR Club.
c. Someone else will do the chores eventually.
d. No one will notice or care.
6. When I do my chores well I feel proud of myself for doing a good job. (True / False).
How Others See You
How people feel about you is based on your behavior, your body language, your tone of voice, and your expressions. HOW you say things is more important than WHAT you say.
1. It is possible to effect how others treat you. The following are things you can do to change other’s way of seeing you. (Circle all that apply)
a. Speak softly, because your “regular” voice sounds intimidating.
b. Smile often.
c. Stay away from others when you are in a bad mood.
d. When you know what’s best. Tell others how to do things.
e. The louder you speak the more likely people are to listen and do what you tell them to.
f. Adults like to be told what to do when you know more than they do.
g. Crossing your arms and putting your hands on your hips tells people you are mad. Avoid this.
h. Teasing, poking, rough play, and calling people names is NEVER OK.
i. Listen and use encouraging words and tone when helping someone who’s asked for help.
j. Always ask before hugs.
k. Draping your arm over other’s shoulders can be intimidating. Try to avoid this.
2. When others like the way you act and appear, they are more helpful and loving toward you. (True/ False)
Write the following statements in your best handwriting.
1. Mom and Dad love me, and want the best for me.
2. I am smart. I try to do my best.
3. God loves me and gave me the strength I need.
As you are aware, we feel that what you did to get in the FAIR Club is VERY serious. You have met the requirements for getting out of the FAIR Club, but we are concerned that you might feel that this means your actions/behavior were no different from a minor offense. Therefore you will be on probation for 2 weeks ending on May 9th. If during this time you are not RRAFTBALL and/or have even the slightest behavior problems or actions you will re-join the FAIR Club. Also, be aware that disciplinary actions will be more severe. During this probationary period:
1. You will only watch shows deemed appropriate by your parents (if Ponito can’t watch it. You can’t). This means no MTV, VH1, CMT or violent shows (including the History Channel shows about war or weapons).
2. Phone time is to be limited to 10 minutes TOTAL per day. Grab a timer. I wouldn’t recommend spending it all at once.
3. No inappropriate music (this includes songs that use bad language and/or talk about sex, drugs or violence. If a radio station plays songs that have to be, or should be, censored -it is inappropriate). You can listen to your CDs if they have been approved by Dad.
4. You may have friends over up to three times a week with at least 24 hour notice. You must be supervised at all time by YOUR parents.
5. Lights out is 9pm. In your room at 8:30pm.
6. You will complete all of your chores and will mow the yard if necessary and do dishes during this 2 weeks. People can help you with these chores, but it is not required that they do. All allowance money will go toward paying off your debts. It is strongly suggested that you do extra chores to earn extra money for paying off debts or for pocket money. We will help you find extra chores, but we are not obligated to do so.
As always, if you have a concern or complaint, please submit it in writing to Mom or Dad. We will discuss it at our convenience and let you know.
Mom and Dad