I'm reading a new book called The Jonathon Letters, loaned to me by my dear friend Mike at Advocates for Children of Trauma, and so far I highly recommend it. It is a series of e-mails between a family who take in a "troubled" 4.5 yr old boy and a therapist who lives all the way across the country.
While my kids were older than this, and usually reading books like this kind of upsets me because I think how much better off they would have been if they'd gotten help sooner, this book has been pretty comforting.
I want to share one excerpt before I go to Grandma's to deal with an angry Bear.
"Jonathon in his previous family, exhibited much defiant behavior and no respect for any rules. The family wanted to help him learn ad their motives were probably good. Their response to him however, seemed to be lacking what he needed. As he disobeyed, they added more rules and more structure in order to force him into compliance. The more he resisted, the more structure was added. Unfortunately, the structure did not include holding, closeness. In the end, he was in lots of therapy, a rigid full-day school setting, and little else. Their methods of discipline were probably the same as those that many of us have used with many of our "normal" children. Jonathon did not respond.
The rules had no impact on Jonathon. They did not fit into his perception of the world. By not following them he was able to get a lot of attention and keep things the way he knew them to be.
Jonathon really needed to learn to build a relationship in order to change his point of reference. He is now learning, slowly, how to bond. We are seeing progress. As we see a relationship increase, we see his desire to defy us decrease.
Therefore, a relationship results in a define to follow the rules (at least to some degree). As a Christian, I want to follow the rules that God has put in place because I have a desire to please Him, I know that He has my best interests in mind, and I trust Him. My children, hopefully, know that our rules are made in their best interests, and they trust us. They have a relationship with us that means that (sometimes, anyway) they willingly follow our rules. We hope to help Jonathon build a relationship and a trust that allows him to be able to also follow rules a bit more willingly. All of this is to say that rules are vital for our survival, but that a relationship with the rule-maker helps in our ability and desire to follow the rules. "
I can't remember the last time I gave Bear a hug, and I have to force myself to lay a hand on him because I know he doesn't want it.