We have been dealing with some discipline issues with Isaiah at school this year. Some time I might write a post about his specific behaviors because, honestly, apart from the underlying issues they represent, it is hard not to laugh sometimes. I promise, I don't. Let's just say he is very creative in how he chooses to disobey at school.
Recently as I was praying for wisdom on how to address these issues with Isaiah, I felt like the Lord said to my heart, "Do you want obedience or do you want healing?" Ooh, that stung a little because I tend to be a very black and white person when it comes to discipline and respect. Although this has been a challenge in all of my parenting, it has specifically challenged me in the area of parenting our adopted kids.
I was reading a post on Facebook from "His Hands His Feet Today," a family that has 12 adopted children. I really resonated with her answer to the question below related to disciplining children with trauma and attachment disorders. I rarely agree wholeheartedly with all aspects of a disciplining style. I feel it is best to learn what you can, pray for wisdom, and parent the way God has called you to parent your own children. I truly believe that can look different in every family and still be the right way for that family.
My favorite phrase in this post below is: "Limit their opportunity for failure, and increase the possibility for success." That is what we are trying to do with Isaiah right now. Thankfully, we have amazing teachers and principals at our school that want to do the same thing and are really partnering with us in this journey.
I know this is long, but if you have adopted children, it is so worth reading through!! Even if you don't have adopted children, there might be something in here that will help out with challenges you may be facing.
Someone asked if we had read Danny Silk's book, Loving Your Kids on Purpose. The answer is yes and the parenting book, we as a couple recommend.
In my invitation to answer questions the other day, many of you asked about parenting and disciplining children with trauma and attachment disorders. I've been thinking about how to answer that question in the best way and really, I think it's what we do around that, that matters the most. We actually discipline the same way we do our other kids. However we parent in more of an intentional and calculated way.
1- Learn their triggers. They all have them. One for our particular child are birthdays - any one's birthday. And potlucks. And honey and oat granola bars (I'm telling you ... some of them are bizzare, but they are triggers to a predictable bad outcome every time). Once you learn them, then you can form a strategy (not all triggers are avoidable - they have to live in the real world).
2- Consistency. In EVERYTHING. Our children wake up at the same time. We eat meals at the same time, We eat snack at the same time. We go to bed at the same time every night. A specific "offense" (ie stealing) gets the same consequence every time. It may sound rigid - but it's helped form trust- and so therefore it's worth it.
3- Have a "scriptural arsenal" ready to combat every lie and complaint spewed at you. Some to start with: Prov 10:8, Col 3:20, Ex 20:12, Prov 25:28, Prov 13:10 ... and I could go on and on. Simply reply with scripture - they are your shield of faith. Replace the LIE with the TRUTH.
4- Cultivate an "attitude of gratitude" in your home. Model thankfulness (for everything!) every chance you get.
5- Teach your children to pray. Pray over them. Pray as a family. PRAY. a. lot.
6- Be united as husband and wife. Come up with a plan and then back each other up.
7- Teach them to manage their own freedom. Present them with choices (2) within the framework of what you desire.... but it gives them some control over their own life. This works for everything... "You need to go to your room - you can walk or I can carry you- what is your choice?"
8- Consider vitamins.... research fish oil, folic acid, and vitamin d. Did you know that darker skinned kids need 20-30 times more sun to get the same level of vit d as lighter skinned people?
9- Make anointing (them, their beds, their room) and worship music (demons hate worship music) a regular part of your day/week.
10- Read the Word out loud over them - frequently. Study the Word together.
11- Continually reaffirm how God made them. We use Ps 139, Jer 1, and Is 49. When they are having a stinky attitude, I will say, "Oops! It seems you've forgotten who you are ... why don't we remind you?"
12- Practical things like alarms, banning from the kitchen, locks on cupboards, etc are necessary at times. Limit their opportunity for failure, and increase the possibility for success.
13- Cocoon them. Keep their world small. Limit sports, friends, etc. This is often hardest on the parent (and sometimes the other children) ... but it cultivates trust and security and so it's worth it. Consider homeschooling.
14- Teach and model "confess, repent, forgive, reconcile" ... it truly brings freedom!
15- Don't get entangled in their webs. "Nice try", "Maybe so", and "Oh no, what are you going to do" are great phrases to use.
16- Limit television, video games, computer, etc.
17- Pray and fast weekly for your child (as a couple if possible). Mark 9.... "this kind" ...
18- Recognize that fear (of never having enough, of losing you, of you changing your mind, of having to move, of safety, etc etc) is the root of almost all of the behaviors a child with RAD/attachment issues exhibit. 1 John 4 tells us that "perfect love casts out fear". What is "perfect love?" Re-read 1 Cor 13:4-8a.
Parents ... this is your challenge.... to model "perfect love" to your child. When we do these things ... we model Jesus to our broken children.... and that's all He's asked us to do... Re-present Him... so that He can mend their broken hearts and crushed spirits.
We're just his conduits of love .... He does the healing.
As you can see from the above, my list is a bit "top heavy" in the spiritual stuff.... that's because so much of this is a spiritual war for their little soul. Until we realize this, and fight like this, we will lose every time. ~His Hands His Feet Today
God has a big plan for this little guy!
I love him fiercely and will fight for him with all I have!
I am fighting for healing in the broken places of his heart that only God can do.
I am desiring to take that passionate charismatic personality that God gave him and channel it in way that does great and mighty things for God's Kingdom.
I choose healing in his heart over actions on the outside and brokenness on the inside!
Boy, do I have my work cut out for me!!