I know that right now, one of the hot topics in our world is teaching our kiddos. However, as foster/adoptive parents to children with trauma. We have been teaching for a while now!
Because our children have a traumatic past I have often voiced that we teach like Dr. Seuss! I have taught children by climbing in the shower with my clothes on to direct their hands to bathe themselves, I have taught 12 year old’s how to whipe after using the restroom (very awkward for all parties involved), and I have taught that the role of “mom” doesn’t mean that I will physically beat you (even though I have thought that I can see why someone would want to beat you).
I have learned that rhythm is a gateway to feelings, learning, and self-regulation. Honestly I have made myself sick rocking a child who is holding a book about feelings trying to read the book as it moves forward and backwards! 🤢 I have sat next to a 12 year old at the dinner table that craps himself to help him feel in control and not responded. 🤢 And I have tried my hardest to not laugh at the bipolar 10 year old, that in his emotional swing, is threatening to beat my head in with a chair at the loudest level his Italian voice could go!!
Sure it is crazy when we stop and look back at the ways we have thought out of the box to help those special kids God has brought into our lives, but I also feel to a point that it is normal.
It is our normal, to walking into a restaurant holding both hands of the child that is known to swipe all the cups off the edge of the table as he walks by. It is our normal, to know where all the exits are so that we can carry our 12 and 13 year old out of the room when it becomes too much. It is normal, to issue prompts to use skills while listening to church sermons or walking through a line at a potluck. Sure, all kids need reminders to not use their hands, but not many require reminders that they do not need to fill their pockets (literally to be eaten a week later) while walking past the food.
We have used map keys to teach long division, we have used blankets to swaddle teenagers and then stay close enough to use co-regulation to slow their breathing down, we have used picture roadmaps in the shower, and the list goes on. Basically we have learned that every child in every situation learns differently and that we need to be ready to think out of the box to meet those needs.
We just chuckle when a therapist says “you know this is going to sound weird, but why don’t we try….”. We have heard that we should only use blue lights, blue clothes, and blue walls as blue is a soothing color, we should only communicate in a whisper with our child, we should call the whole family into a child’s bedroom and take turns screaming, we should only communicate in the third person, and the list goes on.
We live with therapy equipment at the ready, and heaven for bid we go more than 30 minutes from home without headphones and a headweight to aid in regulating while on the drive or at our destination. We have paid for a weeks stay at a condo in Vegas to go to the strip less than than 4 hours total and to spend the rest of our time with the dark curtains pulled watching 5 seasons of NCIS so that the youngest two children feel safe.
I guess the big point I wanted to make is you know the kids in your care better than just about anyone…. don’t doubt yourself on how to reach them. You know what their history has been. You also know, that no matter what you do, their future may be as a mechanic rather than a college graduate. Don’t let this period of time turn into another dent in your relationship because they just won’t do the work the teacher has assigned! Instead teach them to their strengths and if the only lesson they learn over the next month is that you love them and they are safe then heck that is a win! TAKE IT!!!