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, October 1, 2008
Lately Bear has been asking for more priviliges - mostly being allowed to go places like church events, friend's houses, walks or runs by himself, out classes at the high school... when I told him the other day that I didn't feel comfortable letting him do something - he wanted to know why. Usually he doesn't ask why, he just pouts - so I was glad he'd asked. I told him that I didn't trust him, and mentioned what happened in Summer school. He asked why I was holding a grudge?!
I've tried to explain to him that he has to build trust with us. I told him that it feels like every time we relax the rules a little bit, something bad happens (I mentioned the incident in June, but Bear is very much an out of sight out of mind kind of kid!). I'm looking into an option that was created by a woman on the special needs forum at Adoption.com called The Trust Jar. Quick summary, as the child slowly builds trust, the jar is added to with each trust building episode. If the child does something that damages trust they quickly lose a lot of trust points. The best part for me is that you treat the child based on how full the jar is. So if the jar is half full, then the child has all the trust and privileges of a child half his age. If the jar is empty, and say someone steals something - even though you may know it wasn't the child who did it, you say, "I'm sorry but I have to assume it was you." We do this now (often search only Bear's room when something is missing), but this gives me a concrete visible way of showing him why we do this. Instead of him assuming I'm just holding a grudge or something.
I'm asking for permission from the lady to post the details of The Trust Jar here. Plus I had some questions I hope she'll answer about the actual application. I'm hoping she'll say it's OK to post this, and will answer my questions. I really think this could help Bear understand. My only concern is how easy is it to earn trust? I don't think he's anywhere near ready for some of the normal priviliges a 15 year old is allowed. One thing this lady has done is tell her daughter that if she keeps The Trust Jar full (or nearly full) for a year, then she can have a horse. For Bear, I'm thinking Driver's Ed would be a good option. This gives me a year (or more) before I start having to worry about him driving.
Another thing I need to do is get a list of responsibilities and privileges of children of different ages. For example, I know a 1-2 year old is definitely not allowed to watch TV or use the phone, plays with playdoh and toddler toys (no choking hazards) and has a bedtime of 7:30pm.
I'm thinking a child age 7 and under should only be allowed to watch G movies and TV shows(no child is allowed to watch PG13/Y14 movies/shows in our house), isn't allowed to spend the night at friend's houses, can only play in the back yard - not the front, cannot use tools, can only use the phone with a parent sitting right there, and has an 8pm bedtime.
The hard part will be determining what is appropriate for each child and then sticking to it. Sticking to discipline plans has always been hard for me. Having 4 kids at 4 different developmental stages and levels of trust is equally hard. Plus, I have to be "true" to what I actually allowed my kids to do at the age they are operating at - the biokids know exactly what those are!!
Would love advice on what to do at the different levels. I figure I need 1-2 years - for those with empty jars. 4 year old (Ponito) and 6-7 yr. for those with 1/2 full jars. And a list for full jars for a 9, 12-13, and 15 year old. I'm kind of excited about this idea, and kind of nervous too.
"How full is my jar?"