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!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Dear Person Who Doesn't Get It

People Who Don't "Get It!"

So many times we deal with people who just don't "get it." They tell us we're doing it wrong. They tell us how they would do it/ how we *should* do it. How their neighbor's first cousin's barber's kids do the same things and it's totally normal behavior. They feed into our child's manipulations by believing the child over us. They base their opinion on their own (limited) experience, and ignore the person who knows your child best (YOU!)

Additional Posts:

Best of the Worst Parenting Advice

Mommy Shopping

A common defense mechanism for our kids is to try to leave before what they believe is their "inevitable" abandonment by us. Attachment and people loving them is scary. Especially love from the female caregivers - they push us away the hardest of all. 

So they try to move on before things get emotional. Demanding that they want to be put into a new family, foster care, group home... somewhere else, where everything will be "better." 

It didn't help that outsiders usually believed my very convincing children who "present well" and often lied so convincingly about things that they seemingly had no reason to lie about. They didn't understand why any child would act like this. It was out of their realm of knowledge.

I really wish that everyone who describes themselves as my child's "second mother" and "rescuing" him/ her would read this post. Don't Save My Child

Dealing with Outsiders Who Work with Your Child:

We're told we are overbearing, over-controlling, helicopter parenting, too strict, too laid-back, too lenient, we need to "beat it out of him," need to "just love her more," need to be more involved, need to back off, need to "let him fail," need to praise her more, put them in martial arts so they learn discipline, we just need to "explain" to him how/ why his behavior is not okay...

The truth is, all those well-meaning people who tell you what you "SHOULD" (or should not) be doing, have no idea what parenting 24/7 with a child with an attachment disorder is like (even those who have experience working with special needs children). They don't know YOUR child and how your child is with YOU (especially if you are the female caregiver).

Plus, they work at most an 8 hour shift with your child, then they get to go home!  None of them need to take into account the needs of the rest of your family, your other children, your marriage, or you.  Their priority is the one child, not your family as a whole.

Unfortunately, that means it is up to you to set your priorities and stick with them. 

You have my permission (not that you need it, but here it is!), to completely ignore them. They don't know any better.
For years, I sought validation from professionals and other people who "didn't get it" and was miserable, because I wasn't going to get it (the validation).
Surround yourself with people who "get it," and do LOTS of SELF-CARE! If we allow it, these people can be just as draining as our kids.

Advocating For Your Child at School

New School Year Letters.  I send a letter every year to my child's teachers telling them a little about my child and what works and what doesn't.  

Ask if you can make a presentation to all of your child's teacher or even the entire school about your child's disabilities in general.

Details on the use of the chart at the top and ways to make effective presentations about your child that teachers will actually read are in this awesome post written by an amazing fellow trauma mama at Serenity Links Coaching.

How We Handled It

Trauma Business Cards
I have seen versions of this card used by many parents with kids with trauma issues. On the back is usually a link to some place that explains trauma and attachment disorders like:
Beyond Trauma and Attachment (BeTA)

The Attachment & Trauma Network, Inc. (ATN) 

These cards can be handed out when you are not in a place to explain what's going on. For example, when you have a raging child in a public place and need others to back off and not interfere. 

Some of my favorite responses:

"Thank you, we are aware of {this issue} and our child is under the care of a team of specialists {this includes YOU by the way}." Then smile and walk away. 

"We respect {our child}'s privacy and don't discuss his personal story with others. Thank you for your understanding." Then smile and walk away.

"Thank you for your concern. I prefer not to discuss this, especially in front of my child." Then smile and change the subject.

Give them the "Miss Manner's look." (the one that says, "Excuse me, but how dare you ask such a personal question?") Then walk away.

So what do you say when a busybody tries to tell you what to do and/ or criticizes the way you're doing it? Feel free to reply in the comments. 

Dear Friend or Family Member Who Doesn't "Get It," 
written by a Trauma Mama, shared with permission
You are receiving this letter because you are someone we love and value as part of our family.
Parenting children is one of the hardest tasks we can take on as humans and doing so in the best of circumstances has many challenges. We have had challenges and have tried always to put them before God and wait to receive His guidance and then commit ourselves to following that direction.
We don’t pretend that we have always done the best job of that nor that we always acted in a Godly manner. We will answer to our creator for our mistakes, just as anyone else will have to.
One of our greatest challenges, parenting in our unique situation, is the fishbowl effect of it. Our family’s challenges are often played out in more public ways than others’ may be. With that brings the opportunity for those other people to watch and formulate an opinion without necessarily having all the facts. Those ill-informed opinions in and of themselves may be harmless (we don’t believe they are – they negatively affect relationships) if not acted on. When they are acted on, at the least they cause pain and hurt feelings, at the worst they undermine our parenting and do harm to our child.
What we ask is this: “let no word proceed from your mouth but what is profitable for building up.”
  • Understand that the decision you are judging is not yours to do so. 
  • Understand that we laid it before God and are acting on the guidance we received. 
  • Understand that we don’t know what will happen next year or even the next minute, but we are being obedient in this minute and leaving the future to God. 
  • Lastly, understand if you cannot do this, we will have to pull back from our relationship with you.
We have always needed your support, but if you can’t give it, please don’t tear us down.
A Trauma Mama
Shared with permission


Message from a Trauma Mama: 
My daughter may look like other 17yo, but she's NOT! She wants to believe that she is like her peers so badly that she'll believe YOU, who don't really know her, over ME who knows her better than she knows herself. Please don't feed into her entitlement issues and allow her to blame me instead of working on or accepting her issues.

Message from Nigliazzo Advocacy Center for Attachment Disorders:
Please don't assume my child's actions mean the same as other children her age. She has had a very different set of circumstances growing up. No matter how many "typical" children you know, my child is remarkably different. To truly love her and care for her, you must understand her language as I do. Only then can you help. So, if you really want to help, please allow me to interpret for you. Then, and only then, can you truly care about my child. Otherwise, you are only adding to her pain.

Sample Holiday Visit Letter 
– Adapted from –
See also (Holidays, Birthdays, and other Traumaversaries Tips for more resources and information)

Dear Family and Friends:

We look forward to seeing everyone for the holidays. I can’t wait to see everyone and celebrate together. Before we gather this year, I would like to share with you about {your child's name}, and let you know how you can support him and our family.

My son is loving, kind, and very affectionate. He loves to talk about his siblings, {your child's siblings name(s)} and {your child's interests}. He likes to play Candyland, Legos, and with his iPod.

He also has {attachment disorder/trauma/ autism/ sensory integration disorder...}.

People with {attachment disorder/trauma/ autism/ sensory integration disorder...} often have certain behaviors to help themselves feel more comfortable and safe. {Your child's name} is not trying to be disruptive or deļ¬ant, nor does he need rescuing; he is doing this to regulate himself in his surroundings. Please be respectful of these behaviors and look to me (Mom) on how to handle this. 

One of our greatest challenges, parenting in our unique situation, is the fishbowl effect of it. Our family’s challenges are often played out in more public ways than others’ may be. With that brings the opportunity for those other people to watch and formulate an opinion without necessarily having all the facts. Those ill-informed opinions in and of themselves may seem harmless (we don’t believe they are – they negatively affect relationships), but if they are acted on, at the least they cause pain and hurt feelings, at the worst they undermine our parenting and do harm to our child.

{Your child's name} needs a special kind of therapeutic parenting that does not look like the parenting that worked for you or with children without {attachment disorder/ trauma/ autism/ sensory integration disorder...}From the outside, it can make us appear bossy and controlling, or even seem abusive -- we are not. 

Please know that we have received special training and {Your child's name} is under the care of specialists, and trust me (mom) to know what {your child's name} needs and how to handle his behavior. 

It is very hard work to take {your child's name} out of his routine and comfort zone and incorporate (attachment disorder/ trauma/ autism/ sensory integration disorder...) into situations like holidays. {Your child's name} is used to structure and routine and all these changes can cause anxiety. 

We also need to ask you to change the way you interact with {your child's name}, such as {not hugging him, not giving him food or treats, not allowing him to charm you into believing he needs rescuing, he does not}. This may not make sense to you, but we need your support in this.  It is very necessary to his well being.

{Your child's name} often requires parental assistance to regulate himself. I ask that you not give this a lot of attention and continue eating and conversing. Once {your child's name} can regroup, he may be OK to return. However, if something changes, we may need to leave suddenly.   

Again, please do not be critical of mine or my husband’s parenting skills. Remember that {Your child's name} needs to be watched more closely than most children are his age. Like all parents, we do our best but are not perfect. We have been doing this for {____} years, and although it is not perfect, it works for us.

We are excited to share this holiday experience with you and look forward to seeing you,


A Trauma Mama

More Letters:

Don't Save My Child
A Letter To Our Friends And Family During The Holidays (Things Adoptive and Special Needs Families Want You To Know)
Another letter to family and friends.

Other good letters: 

A letter to grandparents of children with RAD - written by a grandmother

Letter to friends and family hosting holiday parties

Preparing the school (and others) for your child - includes lots of links to good articles

Trauma-informed approach for teachers and other team members

Other good letters and articles are in this post about School.

And these posts about:
 Holidays, Birthdays, and Other Traumaversaries
If You Find Out I'm Not Perfect, You'll Leave (aka Why Do They Act Like That?)

 The Frozen Lake Story
"In order to understand what an unattached child feels like, one must understand his perspective. Imagine that you are the young child who must cross a frozen lake in the autumn to reach your home. As you are walking across the lake alone, you fall suddenly and unexpectedly through the ice. Shocked and cold in the dark, you can't even cry for help. You struggle for your very life, you struggle to the surface. Locating the jagged opening, you drag yourself through the air and crawl back into the woods from where you started. You decide to live there and never, never to return onto the ice. As weeks go by you see others on the ice skating and crossing the ice. If you go onto it, you will die."
"Your family across the pond hears the sad news that the temperature will drop to sub-zero this night. So a brave and caring family member (that is you, the parent!) searches and finds you to bring you home to love and warmth. The family member attempts to help you cross the ice by supporting and encouraging, pulling and prodding. You, believing you will die, fight for your life by kicking, screaming, punching and yelling (even obscenities) to get the other person away from you. Every effort is spent in attempting to disengage from this family member. The family member fights for your life, knowing you must have the love and warmth of home for your very survival. They take the blows you dish out and continue to pull you across the ice to home, knowing it's your only chance."
"The ice represents the strength of the bond and your ability to trust. It was damaged by the break in your connection to someone you trusted. Some children have numerous bonding breaks throughout their young lives. This is like crashing them into the ice water each time they are moved, scarring and chilling their hearts against ever loving and bonding again." By Nancy L. Thomas

So You Think You Can Do It Better?
From a fellow Trauma Mama:


Applications are now being accepted in the position of family support personnel.

Think I am doing it wrong? Think you could totally do it better? Now is your chance!! Hop on board for this opportunity to make the difference in a family you think just isn't cutting it! 

Skills Needed:
  • -The ability to cut through the bull shit from both child and professionals
  • -The ability to put your own feelings, hurt, etc aside to unconditionally love a child who lets you know you are not enough for him. 
  • -Must be able to remain calm when asked the same question for literally the 1000th time, or the 100th time today. Literally. Like really, seriously, he knows the answer but he is gonna ask anyway.
  • -The physical ability to bend over backwards as needed in order to put the needs of one small child who has been seriously damaged before your own and everyone else's (Just kidding, thats nuts, stop asking me to!)
  • -The ability to feel like you are doing it all wrong and it is only getting worse and still keep chugging away with a damn smile on your face and love in your voice.
  • -The amazing ability to discern when a child really can't or is just pretending he can't
  • -The ability to diagnose conditions that doctors can't seem to agree on and create an appropriate treatment plan
  • -The acceptance that 1/3 of your paycheck will be cut, because obviously he needs therapy, fidgets, the right food, a LOT of replacements clothes, bed, sheets, and toys
  • -The ability to remain calm when he breaks, tears, or otherwise ruins said clothes, beds, sheets, and toys, because he didn't realize it would break when he pulled it, picked at it, or bent it that far and he just wanted to see
  • - The knowledge and skills to assess his academics and life skills, write an IEP, and implement it because, sorry putting on his pants using the button even though he is about to size out of pull on pants isn't an academic need, and we swear he is on grade level
  • -The mad skill of being able to remain calm when your child is sweet talking someone into giving them something and then telling you how easy it is to control kids
Duties to include:

  • -night waking
  • -making sure nothing is stolen, broken, or hoarded, while still allowing him a full room of stuff and every trinket they buy his compliance with at school, appointments, etc. because otherwise you're mean.
  • -Dropping everything and every feeling to be therapeutic because he needs it now, even though you just worked all day and got yelled at by three people and you just want to crawl into bed and sleep for hours (See first duty)
  • -Letting harsh criticism roll off your back because this kid will act completely different when other people are around
  • -Diplomatically explaining why this kid can't be treated like other kids to every person you interact with several times
  • -Wiping, washing, scrubbing, monitoring and damn near militaristically overseeing all manner of hygiene.
Ok, I'm mostly kidding, but seriously, if you want to judge, step in our shoes for a minute.

A Trauma Mama 

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Family update

I don't usually post info about the kids anymore, but someone requested it. So here goes.

Bear (21) - still in prison.

Might get out around Thanksgiving. If he does, then it's up to him, our state, and the state he's in, whether or not he can move back here. He changes his mind often. Plus, our state may not accept his parole.

Kitty(almost 20) - living at home with us.

Unfortunately beauty school didn't work out. We were told by a state agency that they would cover most of it and grant money would pay for the rest, but when Kitty came back from living with biofamily and we signed up for the school and found out that we/she would owe $14K in student loans! Since we were thinking this might just be a way to make money part-time (at most). It just was not feasible. As this was one of the major reasons we'd given to the biofamily for Kitty to come home, I think birthfamily feel lied to... frankly so did we!

It's "on my list" to go back to the state agency and get her signed up again so they can help her find a job, but I've been super busy, and quite frankly she's so much more stable when she's not under the stress she feels when she's working or in school that it's tempting to put it off as long as possible.

Bob (18) - super happy at college!

She's only 45 minutes away, so she comes home about once a month.

Ponito (16) - still at home.

He's struggling at school. We have no idea why. We've been "bugging" him for the last couple of years, trying to figure out what's going on. He's a very smart kid, but he's been failing classes. We finally started him with a therapist recently. There is a history of bipolar/ depression and ADHD in the family. I'm also wondering if there's some internet addiction, but Hubby and I totally disagree on this, or at least on how it should be handled. I finally wrote up an "agreement" that has very clear expectations for Ponito's game playing on his PS4.

Kanga (19) and Roo (5 months) - living here? It's not official yet, and may not happen, but one of Kitty's friends might be homeless soon.

We'd been angsting about what to do ever since Kitty asked. Honestly we really wanted to say NO(!!!), but felt we morally couldn't (who could put an infant out on the street?). One of our many concerns was what happens if the girl wants to stay forever?! I did do some research and found a local agency that offers residential care to young moms. If Kanga needs to leave (for whatever reason), it's good to have some options to give her.

In answer to my prayer, God gave me a great idea! Instead of putting Kanga in our spare bedroom (which shares a wall with our bedroom), we decided the girl could share Kitty's big bedroom. We told Kitty it's because Hubby sleeps lighter than a cat (which is true)! She doesn't need to know all the other reasons (including the fact that the kids not going to Grandma's every weekend has already put a crimp in date night ;) ).  

Some advantages to having the girls share a room:

  • Kanga is allegedly a neat freak. She'll either want to leave ASAP because of Kitty's disgusting room, make Kitty clean it, or clean it herself. Sounds good to me!
  • Kitty currently is not dating anyone, but living with a baby might make her think twice about accidentally getting pregnant in the future.
  • Kanga'll have chores just like everyone else. This might actually make things nicer around here since Kitty is awful about getting her chores done! 
  • We'll still have a guest room for when family comes to visit, whether Kanga has moved out or not.
  • Kanga probably won't want to live here at all because we have a lot of rules (she'd be expected to sign the Boarder Agreement), which means for one thing her "fiance" would not be allowed upstairs where the bedrooms are, or any other "inappropriate" behavior. We've always made it crystal clear that if you're not married, you don't get to share a room.

No idea what will happen. 

Hubby (50 next month) - Working a lot, but still lives here. lol

Hubby is still working contract (which he hates), and teaching scuba (which he loves, but is getting a little tired of). His Type 2 diabetes is now officially under control and he's lost quite a bit of weight (Mwowrr!). We just celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary - and still in love. We've survived this!

Me (45 next month) - working 3-4 part-time jobs, which means I rarely sleep. I mostly telecommute so I usually work from home. Every time things slow down at one job, I change my focus to another and pick up a little extra work, but inevitably the job I thought was "quiet," suddenly revs up again. Plus, I'm still moderating a very active group for moms with attachment challenged children on FaceBook so I can't just walk away from FB when I need more hours in the day. The good news is that I've been dieting (doctor has been bugging me about my weight for a long time!) using and I've lost 15lbs since January 3rd. I feel a lot healthier! (Only 50+lbs to go!)

Currently my paying jobs are:
  •  20+ hrs a week working for a telecommunication company as Director of Operations - which means I do a little bit of everything.
  • 2-5+ hours a week designing a website and editing copy for a local attorney. Even got to do a little modeling for her website this week. When I saw the proofs I immediately went out and got my hair cut. Even photo shopping couldn't help it much. Now I LOVE my new do!
  • I have a local resale shop that "talked me into" designing repurposed, reconstructed, refashioned, recycled..., whatever you want to call it clothing for the online boutique they are designing.
  • I still do the occasional prom/ bridal dress alteration, and 'tis the season!
House (21 years) 

We've decided that when Ponito graduates (he's a sophomore in high school) we'll most likely sell our house. It is just too big. Not sure where we'll live yet. Probably won't go far as all my family is still here. Not sure if I posted here that my mom, "Grandma" passed away from ALS in September. I don't want to leave my (step)dad alone. 

This 20+ year old house needs a LOT of work to get it ready to go on the market. We're fixing it a little bit at a time. We finally got the kid's bathroom done (Bear had pulled the soap dish off the wall so many times we couldn't repair it anymore and the wall got water damaged so we couldn't use the tub at all any more). We hid the demolished wall behind a shower curtain. 
3+ years of 5 people sharing the master bath. Doable, but not fun!
Isn't it gorgeous?!
Not sure what the next project will be yet. Bob's tuition has jumped up quite a bit and she wants to do a semester abroad next Spring, so we'll probably take a break from major house repairs for awhile.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Let them eat Cake!

A friend of mine sent me this funny link called Nailed It full of Pinterest food fails. We've all seen those amazingly cute projects that we just have to try.

I personally love to make cakes for the kids, so I thought I'd share some of my successes and failures. First the biggest failure!

Bob tends to have ocean themed cakes for her summer birthday. One year she was really in to monkeys so we found an adorable cake of a monkey on an island (like this one). Rather than make the monkey out of edible playdoh, I thought I'd be creative and make it out of... tootsie rolls! They came in all different colors and could be rolled in to any shape I wanted. What I didn't count on was that they melted a little when they got warm. The palm tree melted too.

I also didn't count on the cake totally falling apart.

Melting Monkey
Crumbling Cake

Piece of Cake
Another ocean cake. This one had "water" made of blue Jello.

This under the sea Little Mermaid "cake" was actually made from Rice Krispies made with colored marshmallows divided into different colors. This cake ended up feeding almost 200! We took it to Bob's daycare since it hadn't been as popular as the chocolate cake at her party. The entire school had it for snack and then there was tons left over that the teachers took home. I think the whole school ate it two days in a row!

An Alice in Wonderland themed party. This was a teapot cake. Bob loved theme parties and I usually made elaborate costumes too.

Long story about why Bob always had two cakes, but here's two cakes from her "princess years." The ice cream cake in the background is made from sand castle molds (never used!) coated on the inside with melting chocolate then packed with ice cream. When it was time for cake, the molds were popped off and Voila! Of course I'm no expert and the chocolate wasn't thick enough in some places so this castle was more like "ruins," and you can see the raspberry sorbet through some of the cracks.
Time for another failure. This is supposed to Kitty's Elmo cake for her 16th birthday.

I had done so much better the year before. With Hedwig and Scabbers from Harry Potter (the cakes looked much cuter in real life!).

One I made for my nephew. He wanted a cake that looked like his leopard gecko! The gecko's chocolate chip spots spelled out his name on the gecko's tail.

Ponito got some cute cakes too! Unfortunately we forgot to take a picture before we'd already cut this poor Lego astronaut off at the knees.

One of my favorite cakes. I'd made dragon cakes before, but this one I think turned out well. Ponito asked for a dragon and red double decker bus cake?! Crazy kid. You can't really tell, but the dragon has rainbow wings made of fruit rollups.  His right claw and wing are resting on top of the bus. this is another one that looked better in real life than in the pictures.

I've made many other cakes over the years, but these were fun.

You can see another of my posts on my cakes.
Ponito's science project cake.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Consequences for Stealing - Community Service

FAIR Club Stealing Consequences - Community Service 

There are many reasons our kids lie and steal (see this post). I prefer not to have "standard" consequences for the kids behaviors out of concern that they might decide that the crime is worth doing the time, so I try to come up with logical consequences for each incident. That being said, in addition to other consequences, we do have one standard consequence for stealing or breaking someone else's things - they have to pay back double the value of the item.

Example 1: Bear took $11 out of Ponito's wallet (which he then hid, but Ponito did get it back). 
1. He will be required to do his brother's chores for 2 weeks (pays $10 if done well).
2. He will be required to give Ponito the remaining $12 from Bear’s saved allowance.
3. He will go back to carrying a see-thru backpack or no back pack at all.
4. He will not be allowed to carry a wallet.
5. He will continue to spend the night at Grandma's on Saturday night (something he's told me he doesn't like doing), but they will be more closely supervising him.
6. He will not be allowed to go to his own Sunday school. Instead he will have to go to church and adult Sunday school with Poppy.
7. His room will be searched regularly again (although I probably will not tell him this)
8. He will lose the "benefit of the doubt" if things are stolen or missing (I will not be telling Kitty this as I worry she will take advantage)
9. He is already not allowed to go places with his friends unless Hubby or I can be present, but he will be reminded that this definitely does not increase our trust
10. He will be in the FAIR Club until all money is paid back to Ponito.
11. If anything more comes to light at the school, or if there are future issues then he will no longer be allowed to ride home from the public high school on the regular bus, and could potentially lose his ability to attend the public high school (currently spends half his time at his special school)
12. This will definitely delay his being able to eat lunch at the public high school indefinitely, because there is a lot less supervision. He'll have to continue to eat lunch at his special school.

Community Service

When the amount owed is substantial, and allowance, selling personal items (if the child decides to sell something we only pay "garage sale prices."), savings, and extra chores around the house are not enough, one option is community service. This involves the child working for family and friends (who do not actually pay for the work).

This consequence isn’t really about the money. It is more about learning a lesson and restitution. We credited our son $3/hr for manual labor. Technically $3/hr is not a fair wage, but Bear has worked for less when he was doing lawn work (a price he negotiated himself). Mostly this is because he does not do jobs well, usually damages the tools, and rarely finishes or cleans up after himself (although he doesn't get credit until the job is done). The price per hour is based on the quality of work. If it were about money then he would get a job, get paid, and have to turn it over. The problem is that in our neighborhood some of our neighbors will pay $100 for just a few hours of work… whether it’s done well or not.  

Our son also requires adult supervision (usually line of sight) – which generally means that supervisor is being taken away from what they’d rather be doing and the service has to be coordinated to work with everyone’s schedule. When a parent is not available, we might use people who are aware of the child’s need for supervision and can provide it. He does not get a choice in who he helps, what he does, or when it gets done (that's not how it works in the real world and he's not really capable of organizing this anyway).

Example 2: Stolen alcohol. Bear drank most of a bottle of Hubby’s expensive liquor (and watered it down to hide the fact that he’d been drinking it), he owed double the cost of the bottle (plus other consequences for the lying). The liquor was $45 a bottle so he owes us $90. 

In the past Bear has incurred big debts and never paid it back. This is why I chose community service instead. He will be in the FAIR Club until his community service hours are done. Once the hours are assigned, he cannot use money obtained elsewhere to pay back the debt. He also cannot earn extra money (by doing extra chores or working for cash) until his debts are paid.

Positive motivation 

Double Dipping - I referred to Bear's consequences as community service to a neighbor that doesn't need to know all of his business (the parent of one of my friends), Bear perked up and (after I got off the phone) asked if it could count toward the community service he is supposed to do for ROTC. Bingo! I actually prefer he do this kind of service (in which I can oversee his supervision) over leaving him on campus after school to do who knows what with his friends. This also means he's "buying into" the project too.

Positive Reinforcement - Allow the child to actually earn something or do something he/she enjoys. Community service doesn't have to be hard labor. Bear has actually enjoyed some of the volunteer work we've signed him up for - which helps him get it done. 

Example 3: One summer to keep Bear busy, we signed the whole family up to volunteer at an equine therapy place. (This wasn't actually a community service consequence for Bear, but I think it would have been a good option.)  He got to walk next to the children with disabilities during their therapy (riding horses is a great therapy for many disabilities) to make sure they didn't fall off. It was active and he got to feel like a big shot (the kids thought he was cool and everyone praised him for being helpful). 

Example 4: Bear stole another MP3 player. Rather than just put him in the FAIR Club for the millionth time with the same old consequences, which have no impact on his stealing. We decided to try something new. He still had to pay for the stolen Zune (we didn't make it double since the item was worth over $100 and he'd never be able to pay that much ), but instead of the money going to the owner of the stolen item (we never located the owner so the Zune was donated through the school to needy kids) we decided to let him use the earned money to buy his own Zune.

  • If he owned a nice MP3 player, maybe he'd be less likely to steal someone else's.
  • It motivated him to finish his hours
  • It gave us something to take away if/when needed

 This actually had some success.