A weekly blog from a family made by adoption, warmed by the laughter, broken by the sadness, held together by love with a big dollop of hope, oh, and often soaked in mummy tears.
It’s been a fairly smooth running and calm week in our household. Yes, Small did refuse to go to school on Monday and once there he did refuse to do any work but by Tuesday, he’d come around. He flew through the rest of week in a blazing trail of superness, well he’s always very super to me but I mean as far as school is concerned.
I suppose the big event this week was that Tall started some play therapy. We have been able to access this through CAMHS and we originally asked for a referral about a year ago. However the first appointments came at the time that Tall was dealing with SATs and because he seemed very focus and keen to try his very hardest, we asked for them to be deferred.
So we are hoping that Tall will be able to explore his inner beliefs of himself, confirm his place in the world and understand more about his emotional deregulation. Now this sounds quite a big ask of playing, to me, but the Therapist is fairly confident that we can explore these themes and says we should be ready to commit to up to 30 sessions. I must say this number was at first a shock but I actually feel relieved now that this level of commitment is being given to my son. No six sessions and you’re cured for once.
His eye gave it away, the morning we were due to go to the first session. They darted around in all directions as he sat at the breakfast table, his shoulders rounded down towards his cereal bowl. Again the unusual silence between us in the car told me he was feeling nervous.
It struck me, after he’d disappeared through a door with his therapist, that I too would be committed to 30 sessions of sitting in the not so plush CAMHS waiting room. An enquiry reviled no WiFi so, I wasn’t going to get that online, childfree hour I’d hoped for. Thankfully I’d also brought a book and actually now, an hour of uninterrupted reading seems a glorious luxury.
At eleven, Tall is at the top end of the age range that play therapy is suggested for but in our initial meeting with the therapist, he excitedly rummaged through the different toy boxes and then spent considerable time lining up his soldiers and plotting his war. He is still very much into playing; revealing that his emotional and social ability age is still much younger than eleven.
I was reminded again of this immaturity as he bounded from his therapy room and jumped onto my knee and snuggled into me. I rocked him and caressed him gently.
I personally delivered him back into school to his pastoral manager, who was taking him into learning support, where Tall would spend time before going back into lessons. I was grateful for their understanding and support, knowing that Small was still at home, awaiting going to his support centre in the afternoon. Both at home during the day can be tricky.
So that’s the first session done and I will keep you informed of our progress. I would also be interested to hear of others experiences with play therapy.
In Other News.
Due to me being away at the weekend, my husband announced that on Saturday he had one of the best days he’d ever spent with the boys. So that’s me away next weekend and the next and the next.
Small had a friend over to play, he’d so been missing his pals from school. It was a delight to hear the giggles and laughter that came from his room.
Fatigue is setting in and half term is now on the horizon. Roll on Friday.
This Weekend we are #TAKINGCARE
Hello fellow bloggers and welcome back to our weekly link up for adoption related blog posts. We want to thank you for joining us in sharing the stories of your life.
As this weekend sees the first ever Conference from The Open Nest, entitled Taking Care, we want to remind you what a big part you play in helping take care of this community. Your shared stories of your lives and your adoption experiences make others feel less alone. I hope you too feel supported by those that visit your sites and comment. So keep up the amazing work and remember how important it is to TAKE CARE.
To celebrate this weekend we are going to have an optional theme this weekend of TAKING CARE. Tell us how you care for yourself and your family.
So come on then, link up below……
Game: The Tribez.
It’s free. Cute little village of troll people. You have tasks and build it up. Good as you can leave it ages before you check back I on it to get on with life and it will all still be going!
The internet is a wonderful tool, offering a wealth of information, opportunities and discovery but it also has a dark side, especially for fostered and adopted children.
As adoptive parents, we have to contend with the risks all parents face of Cyber-Bullying, Viewing Adult and Violent images, Sexting, Trolling, Grooming and Identity Theft; we also have the added risk of our children tracing and contacting their birth parents.
If we provide our children with internet enabled devices we run this risk, and if we don’t we risk making them ‘different’ from their friends.
As both a parent and a tutor, I firmly believe that in order to successfully parent you need to be aware of all the facts.
Few parents realise the sexual brutality which is freely available to view under the term “Online Porn”. Many still think it’s like Playboy. I’ve worked with children of 11 and 12 who regularly view hardcore online porn, and they are putting parental filters on younger siblings computers.In their words, “I’m old enough to see it, but they’re too young”! What are the parents doing?
We are the 1st generation of parents who need to have “The Talk” and “the Porn Talk”.However many filters we put in place, there will be children with free internet access who are willing to show ours. It’s crucial we help our children understand that what they see on line is not normal sexual behaviour.The people doing it are actors playing out fantasy roles as they do in feature films.
Adopted and Fostered children are more susceptible to online grooming. A lot of online grooming through video chat sites is carried out by people in foreign countries. They seek to achieve sexual contact via webcams and video links. As these people can be based abroad there is almost nothing the British Police can do, but report it to the Police Authority in the relevant country.
Cyber-bullying affects approximately 1/3rd of children currently. Cyber-bullying is 24/7 and often anonymous, so the target does not even know who is doing it. We need to help our children understand that they are being picked on not because of the way they are, but because of the Bully’s problems. In ourHappy Kids Don’t Bully programme we explore why people bully. The answer is always the same. It’s a coping behaviour displayed by people who need the power and control which is missing from their lives. This applies to adults as well as children.
Sexting is a rapidly growing trend amongst all children. The explanation for this is , in part due to accessibility of online porn and that perception of what is ‘sexy’ and ‘cool’; combined with examples set by celebrities like Rihanna who commented that “if you don’t send your boyfriend naked pictures, then I feel bad for him”. Statistics vary, but many state that a third of young people had either sent or received naked pictures via text or email. Many feel pressured into doing so. Children in care who may have been exposed to the sex industry in their former lives, can be more susceptible to this type of behaviour as they can see it as ok. Interestingly enough these same children are often horrified at the thought of their siblings being involved!
So what can you do?
Protecting children from contacting birth families via social media
- Try not to let your child know their birth parents surname. It’s difficult to find someone when you only have their forename.
- Avoid photos on school websites which name your child and/or age.
- Verify your contacts on social media and set both your and your child’s settings as tightly as possible, so only people you have accepted as friends can see your posts, photos etc.
- Have the password to your child’s social media accounts and monitor their contacts. Many children have moved on from Facebook to Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, PinInterest, Faceparty, Kik etc.
- Talk to your children, explain the risksIt could happen and think about what you will do if contact is made.
To generally keep your children safe online
- Use software which will tell you what sites your child has been on Microsoft Windows Live Family Safety is FREE and it will tell you which sites they have been on.
- Use Parental Filters, either “Whitelist” which blocks every site and you then choose which sites your child can visit, or “Blacklist” where you set an age range, allowing the software to choose what to block and allow.
- Remember that most children now access the internet via mobile phone or tablet. Apply filters there..
- Block sites like Chatroulette.com and Pinkroulette.com which have no control over who the children are linking up with.
- Be draconian with Video and Geo-social apps. These are called hook-up apps for a reason.
- Teach your children that Happy Kids Don’t Bully. Help them understand that if they are targeted it is not their fault, but all to do with the Bully’s coping behaviour.
- If your child is physically bullied, treat it as assault and ensure the school works with the bully to help them deal with their problems. Unfortunately very few schools currently do this.
- Attend any workshops you can on Online Safety to keep your knowledge up to date.
Penny Steinhauer has been teaching Online Safety and Anti-Bullying since 2009. She is a member of UKCCIS, the Anti Bullying Alliance, the Children in Wales Preventing Bullying Behaviours Group. Penny has taught thousands of adults and children how to keep safe online and how to deal with bullying. She has recently received a grant of £5000 from the Big Lottery fund to run Happy Kids Don’t Bully workshops for 3000 children in Wales.
For further info go to www.eyepat.org. You can purchase the EyePAT 200 page Online Safety Information Guide in print format for £13+ £P&P, on CD for £5.40 + P&P and as a download for £4.79. You can order from http://eyepat.org/safetyguide
A weekly blog from a family made by adoption, warmed by the laughter, broken by the sadness, held together by love with a big dollop of hope, oh, and often soaked in mummy tears.
“In Crisis” is how Small’s education was described to me this week by the Educational Psychologist. The panicker inside me panicked, the depressive in me spiralled into a depressive mood and the flood gates opened, there have been a lot of tears. She didn’t reassure me in any way when she told me she has seen children like Small unable to integrate back into mainstream school, and she didn’t help me when she suggested that unless he could fit to the school’s needs, then he would not be able to remain in the school. “Permanent exclusion” is the deadly words that ring in my ears.
The self doubts have crept back in and I staretd to fear that my own parenting lacks the necessary conviction, that this is somehow my entire fault. I know, I know I’m being a drama queen but it is so easy to slip into this rut, for me anyway.
And then like an angel, sent to deliver me from my own persecutory hell, there appeared, a singular lovely, lady in the aisle of the supermarket.
Friday straight from School, Small and I visited the supermarket. He was in a very jovial and chatty mood, released from the pressure of school for the next two days, we were having fun collecting none essential things from the shelves. Popcorn, Halloween tat, a DVD, wine, it was a definite Friday night shopping trolley. Realising there was little of nutritional value amongst our items I sent Small off to retrieve fruit.
He reappeared with grapes and then, as we finalised our shopping I felt a tap on my shoulder. I turned to find a lady, unknown to me, smiling widely at me.
“I would like you to know what a sensible and polite boy you have” she said. “I watched him very patiently allow someone go before him down an aisle and he waited to let other people pass by too.”
My heart fluttered with pride and his little face beamed too. I grabbed hold of him and squeezed him tight. “Well done my love, you make me very proud”.
There it was, the reminder to me, that I actually do a brilliant job parenting my children. That in many a social situation my children know exactly how to behave and interact with others. It called to mind all the wonderful comments that guest’s, at a family event we attended recently, made about my children.
“Aren’t they polite”
“They are playing so well with those other children”
“I hope we can see you all again soon”
Also over this weekend we have enjoyed a number of outings with Small and he has been a delight to be with. His wicked sense of humour has had us all laughing and his friendly nature has seen him engaging with other children and adults alike. He has even managed a long walk, in the autumn sunshine, without moaning, well not much.
Yes he can seem a little quirky at times and yes, he’s not always easy to coerce into everything we want to do but he is learning and improving all the time.
I know he has been far from easy to deal with in school and his behaviour has proved extremely difficult to manage. However, I can’t help feeling that it’s not what the school needs of him that should be considered here. It feels a lot like this little square pegged boy is being squeezed into a round hole. Instead shouldn’t Small’s needs be what people are trying to meet? Not the other way around.
I can now see, now I’ve dug myself out of that rut, that when many of his needs are being met, he feels safe, feels appreciated and feels liked/loved that he can behave in a very convivial way.
Although I am still fearful of those words “permanent exclusion” I’m starting to wonder if this school is not really the one for Small if they are not prepared to meet his needs.
In Other News
Tall and Small have got on very well this week, I love seeing them together, thick as thieves.
Tall’s high school experiences seems to be running more smoothly, but now I’ve said that be prepared for an almighty incident.
I’m struggling for other news, other than the news that I cried a lot this week and the cat was sick on our bedroom carpet. Things can only get better.
Hope you’ve all got your posts ready to link up? No theme this week, so add all your best and favourite posts. And if you know someone who blogs, but doesn’t link up, then please do give them a nudge.
Whilst I’ve got your attention – just a little reminder about The Open Nest Taking Care conference on October 18th in York. There are still a few tickets available, and don’t forget that we’re hosting a social event that evening – music, a bar, friendly people – if you’re planning on coming to that evening event, please drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’re really looking forward to meeting you, so do come and say hello.
OK, on with the linky. If you need any technical help with joining in, then please do shout, we’re always happy to help.
Today Sally Donovan shares her wise words on the subject of mobile phones.
Jamie wanted a phone from before way back when. He finally got one on his eleventh birthday because he was about to start travelling to secondary school courtesy of the not altogether reliable school bus service. We thought it would be a good insurance policy against being stranded in the middle of nowhere in the middle of winter. And all his friends had one. They’d had them since they were in junior school, around the time they started playing Grand Theft Auto and going to bed at ten o’clock and buying cans of Red Bull on their way to school.
The mobile phone was loved and adored from the moment it was unwrapped. Everyone’s phone numbers were collected; mine, Rob’s, Granny’s, Aunty Alice’s and we were all bombarded with texts. Some of them even made sense.
Within a few days of the first ten pounds of credit being loaded though, it was gone. I added another ten pounds. It disappeared.
To cut a (very) long story short, I eventually worked out he was sending literally hundreds of texts. (That’s what they do.) Many of them were split into single words.
I changed his tariff and bingo, ten pounds lasted a month.
Then we went through a period which I’ll call The Era of Repeated Breakages, Damages and Taking the Piss. There were multiple incidents involving the washing machine, smashed screens, school confiscations and night time shenanigans. There was also the resetting of the passcode and the subsequent forgetting of the passcode. There would be Mr D, pale with frustration, explaining that he had set it to something highly memorable so not to change it again, only for it to be changed again. Let’s just say me and the young man in the O2 shop are now on first name terms.
Despite all the frustrations there’s been an interesting and unexpected upside to the mobile phone. It started one morning after a terrible getting off to school.
I don’t know why I say those things
Then a few days later came
Then, after hours of awful trauma (the sort when things get smashed)
I do love you
These little text messages represent glimpses into an inner world, glimpses which I might not have got any other way and they were a way for him to reach out.
It works in the other direction too. If I know he’s had a difficult day at school I might text
Mrs W has told me what happened. Don’t worry we’ll sort it out. See you when you get home. Mum xx
It seems to prevent the whole walking in through the door in fight mode.
Last week I texted
I know the last few days have been pretty awful. How about a fresh start and some chocolate biscuits when you get home?
I got an immediate response
When one’s parenting is already frayed by the usual everyday challenges of life it is tempting to avoid introducing in any more complications. But there is no getting around it; young people all have mobile phones and digital communications have become central to the way friendships operate. Not to have one, is to be different from the crowd, and that’s something many of our children struggle with.
I can’t pretend I haven’t at times been driven to distraction by the mobile phone, but Jamie has learnt and matured through the experience and now is a (more or less) responsible phone user.
If you are wavering on the edge of this next step in your child’s life, here are my tips:
- Buy them a cheap smart phone. (They all have smart phones.) If you spend lots of money you will really feel pissed when they drop it (which they will).
- Buy a protective case.
- Jamie’s first and subsequent phones were half paid for by him and half by us. This gave him a greater sense of pride when he went into the shop, asked for the phone and handed over the money.
- We made a big thing about his first phone. There was a sense of celebration and excitement, which matched his state. We had already set out the rules around phone ownership and usage so the moment wasn’t ruined by us nagging.
- Set out clear rules. Our included things like ‘at night, put the phone to charge downstairs so you’re not tempted to use it when you should be asleep’.
- Most young people send far more texts than they make phone calls so ask for the correct tarif when you buy the phone.
- We live in an area with terrible 3G so we didn’t have to worry too much about what J was accessing on the internet while he was away from home. It’s worth remembering though that smart phones are mini-tablets so if your child is attracted to certain types of websites then they are probably going to access them using their phone. I know some parents who regularly check their child’s phone and may confiscate it if certain rules have been broken. We have gone down the confiscation route occasionally and only in response to something significant.
- They will make many, many mistakes concerning their phone, as they do in other areas of their lives. They will lose them, break them, bring them out during a lesson and send unwise messages to people whose parents take offence. My only advice is try not to sweat it but help them learn from it. If they make tonnes of mistakes then perhaps they aren’t ready for their own phone just yet.
- Texting may just open up communication between you and your child, when nothing else can. It can be a great and non-threatening method of repair. Sometimes a short text tells a thousand words.
Sally Donovan is the author of the moving adoption story No Matter What. To purchase click here.
Today Vicki from The Boy’s Behaviour is sharing her 3 favourite apps for Android…all available from the Play Store.
I only recently came across this app, and have fast become reliant on it!
It is an alarm clock/timer/stopwatch/clock, which of course most devices have on anyway, however, the difference with Timely is that it’s got some clever extras.
For example, the alarm goes off quite loud as expected, but it recognises that you have picked the phone up and immediately quietens down a little, rather than continuing at 100decibels! And, I also like the challenges you can set. Before you can silence the alarm you have to complete a challenge, which makes you wake up I can tell you. Choose from a pattern recognition, maths puzzle or shape matching exercise.
As with other alarms, you can set more than one, specify certain days for certain alarms, change the tone etc, but I’m really loving those little extras that help me wake up, and more importantly – stay awake!
A camera app, Cymera is a popular editing tool. As well as being able to crop, brighten etc, you can change the effect, put unusual lighting over the top of your image, add text, but also add certain stickers and bling up your image.
Easy to share too, you can show off your photos in other applications.
Out of Milk
The organiser in me LOVES this. It’s a shopping list app. Yes I know it sounds mundane, but where I was once the proud owner of a perfectly functioning (albeit selective) memory, I am not anymore.
This helps me keep a list to hand, which means I can add to it wherever and whenever I recall that we’ve run out of loo roll/milk/plasters/ear plugs – delete as appropriate.
I spent a little time setting it up with prices of each item too, which means when I write a full shopping list I can see how much it’s going to cost me – if necessary I can alter it to reflect my budget.
There are other features too which allow you to basically keep your larder up to date, however being able to create a list (with pricing) is perfect for me.