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!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Attachment Challenge

I'm going to need someone to hold me accountable because I've decided to do this Attachment Challenge  and I really don't want to.  Lately, I've been feeling very frustrated with Kitty and I need to change it up.  She's staying with Grandma for the next week and a half, but I'll be seeing her daily.  I think I'll wait to start the actual challenge until she's home, but for the next 10 days, I'll start adding things in gradually.  Anyone with me?

Oh my goodness, I can't believe I'm considering this. I wasn't willing to try it 3 years ago when Christine Moers from Welcome to my brain. net first came up with this (horrible) Attachment Challenge For the last couple of weeks though I've been really struggling with Kitty.  I'm not sure if it's worse lately because she's not living at home right now (she's spending the next 2 weeks at Grandma's house so she can get to Vacation Bible School easily) so I'm out of practice at the daily routine of dealing with her or the lack of buffer when she was home (when not at camp or on trips. 

Bob and Ponito are spending the majority of the summer at Grandma's so they can help her with babysitting my sister's kids - which Kitty is very jealous about since she's not really invited - due to her being another child instead of a helper). Or maybe because, despite trying so hard to keep my expectations at the right level for her, I'm really frustrated with HER not being able to accept her reality.

So here's the challenge:

The Attachment Challenge

10 hugs a day

10 minutes of FUN attachment-inducing games (involving touch and/or eye contact)
20 minutes of doing something fun YOUR CHILD wants to do

  • Some of the posts we've come up with for doing when we're bored that might have some good things to do together. 108 Alternatives to Boredom and Trapped in the House.

  • Prepare and shop together for a "letter party." 
  • Play catch with a big ball or balloon. The trick is you must maintain eye contact. Don't look at the ball. 
  • Hand Games like "Miss Mary Mack" etc...
  • Cuddle up on the couch and read a short book together. Take turns reading.
  • Tie one of each of your legs together and each of your wrists. Now together...go make a sandwich. Teamwork!
  • If you have a pre-teen or teenage her make-up (even if she doesn't normally wear any)
  • Hair - sitting in front of the mirror so you can catch each other's eyes - braid, curl, brush, gel, mousse...
  • Mani/ pedis on each other! (Don't forget to include hands and feet massages.)
  • Ask your child to take a photo portrait of you and you take one of him/her. Frame them on a wall next to each other. 
  • While sitting across from one another...ask your child to draw a portrait of you. You draw one of him/her.
  • Start two journals. In one...your child can ask you any question and you must answer. In the may ask your child any question and they must answer. Leave the journals on each other's beds every night for peeks into hearts and growing understanding.  (Ex. What makes you happy? What makes you sad? What are you afraid of? Do you have any regrets? What makes you laugh? Do you feel safe? What does family mean? Have you ever felt forgiven? etc....)
  • Write a poem using the letters of each other's names and read them to each other (sitting face to face)s.
  • Scavenger hunt with loving clues from mom. End in a favorite snuggle place.
  • Tubby that smell away. use deodorant/yummy lotions. anything to help the connection times (you can wear swimsuits). (The RAD Stink - the Smell of Dysregulation)
  • Color a coloring page or Mandala together. each person must color the spot with the crayon of the other's choice. Crossover/intertwine arms.
  • Slowly feed each other a bag of fruit snacks. one for one. give words of affirmation. (ie feel my love going down to your tummy)
  • Cook a snack or make a fruit salad together.
  • Dance together. Freestyle or maybe Wii - Just Dance (It helps that we're both bad at this. Personally, I'd avoid something you're good at and your child is not).
  • Sewing - this is an activity I've already planned for this summer with Kitty and 3 other girls.
  • Tossing goldfish in child's mouth from 5ft away - trying for 5 fish in a row
  • 101 I'm Bored Jar

Attachment Challenge Days 1& 2 

Attachment Challenge Day 3
Attachment Challenge Days 4,5 & 6
Attachment Challenge Days 7, 8, 9 and a makeover
Attachment Challenge Day 10
Attachment Challenge Day 11& 12 and a makeover
Ended Attachment Challenge to do chronotherapy for chronic insomnia


Anonymous said...

Does Kitty want to do this? If she doesn't want to and you don't want to, why do it?
If the feeling of love isn't spontanous, if you have to fish around for "words of affirmation," then you're just going through the motions.

Lisa said...

At one point my daughter was doing DBT therapy and her "assignment" was to hug me 20 times a day. I felt so icky having her hanging on me all day. It was so unnatural. I was always the mom who hugged her kids dozens of times a day and it always felt very natural and spontaneous. All of my kids hugged back - except for this particular one (but at least she let me hug her) but the worse her behaviors became (calling me names, saying how much she despised me and our family in general and how disgusting we were) the less I reached out to her. When she was doing this "assignment" her attitude was basically, "YOU WILL LET ME DO THIS!! I AM NOT GETTING INTO TROUBLE WITH MY THERAPIST FOR NOT DOING MY ASSIGNMENT!" so it didn't work out so well. I know it is supposed to feel more natural the more you practice it, but I guess I'm not a good fake it until I make it kind of gal because this was just torture for me! I hope it works out well for you two though.

marythemom said...

Anon - I'll give you the same answer the equine therapist gave Kitty when the horse didn't trust Kitty to work on it's right side. Kitty asked why she should bother, it didn't really matter if she didn't brush it or approach it on that side. The therapist said that the horse didn't like it, but a therapy horse that couldn't allow people to work with it - wasn't useful. A child that won't allow people to touch her or attach to adults, will never be a fully, functional human being. It's my job.

I think "going through the motions" and "fake it 'till you make it" does work, but torture is probably going to be the right word, Lisa.

Lisa - 20 HUGS! Wow! I thought 10 was a lot! Got a hug from my ex-brother-in-law recently and I flashed back to all the creepy, sexual hugs I had to endure from my son when he first came to live with us. It took time, but the feeling of the hugs did change.


Sia said...

Umm ... how are you doing with the attachment challenge? *nags*