Tag Archives: negativity

give negativity a noose (adoption/foster)

original photo by anitab0000 via sxc.hu

original photo by anitab0000 via sxc.hu

You can view the first post in this series: negativity is contagious

You know who had a right to be negative, angry, opposing, and downright contrary? The Giving Tree. You know, the children’s book by Shel Silverstein? The Giving Tree is just that; giving. His owner, however, is selfish and takes everything he can from the tree to make his life better. The tree gives freely, never denying a request or complaining about its loss. In the end only a stump remains, and the boy comes back old and weathered, and sits to rest on the tree’s trunk. In the end, both were happy.

If we are to be like the Giving Tree, it doesn’t mean that we allow our hurting kids to pummel us into the ground, there are consequences for inappropriate actions, there are times when we say no, there are boundaries, consistency, and routine, but in the end it’s relationships that are of utmost importance.

“The capacity to care, share, listen, value, and be empathetic – to be compassionate – develops from being cared for, shared with, listened to, valued, and nurtured.” ~ Dr. Bruce Perry

If you are consistently sucked into a world that is negative, it’s nearly impossible to care, share, listen, value, and nurture regularly. If you have a hurting child who isn’t attaching and bonding, it’s because they didn’t receive that reciprocal, caring relationship Bruce Perry is talking about. It’s now up to us to step in where others dropped the nurturing, and to do so we need to stay out of Negative No No Land.

To do so, we need to know where negativity comes from:

  • Negative attitudes can develop because parents tire of the horrible behaviors, the lying, the potty training issues, the control. They want it to change, and they want it to happen now. When it doesn’t, they become pessimistic, and that pessimism can stop our child’s progress.
  • Negative outlooks expand when we fail to see our child’s possibilities. Jon Acuff said, “Fictional regret often cripples us from factual action.” I would like to change the second word in that phrase so it applies even more to parenting a hurting child, “Fictional [worry] often cripples us from factual action.” When we worry and feel negative about what our child’s future (even their tomorrow) looks like, we forget to live in the moment. And, this moment is the one that will help your child move toward healing; the hug you’re not giving, the praise you’re not sharing, the play you’re not engaging in, the interest you’re not showing because negativity is taking away moments you could be using to help your child heal.
  • Negative mindsets grow when we’re in community with others who constantly complain about their life. This can be people who speak disapprovingly about everyone and everything around them or a community of adoptive/foster parents who complain about their children. I do see a place for groups of parents who’ve adopted or are fostering. I think it’s great to have a place to vent our troubles, but with Facebook and places like Cafemom, it’s become all too easy to get sucked in and focus only on the unfavorable qualities of our loved ones and others.
  • Negativity can come from our own guilt, thinking we don’t do enough for our hurting child. Some parents constantly question whether they’re doing the right things with their child who struggles. (To put your mind a little more at ease, take a look at this: We Are Our Childs Best Therapist.
  • Negativity can creep in through others perceptions of us. A family that has a hurting child functions differently than the typical family. Friends and relatives don’t understand why you live the way you do. You are excluded, questioned, and sometimes scorned.

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Negativity can come from anywhere and everywhere; as an avalanche of boulders or as pecking stones. In turn it can cause us to be negative, and the way you feel as a parent is always projected onto your child.

Our negativity about our children affects:

  • The way we feel about them.
  • The expectations and hopes we have for them.
  • Our ability to empathize with them.
  • What we say to them.
  • What we say about them.

As Dr. Bruce Perry said, our kids need US to be the catalyst for positive change. Our children CAN heal, but not without our help, and we can’t offer them all of us (think Giving Tree and remember why you adopted in the first place) if we are full of negativity.

The question now is what do we do? Well, I struggle with negativity, so I feel less than qualified to tell you what needs to be done. However, I can share with you what helps me have a more positive perspective.

#1, and MOST important: When dealing with a child’s Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Oppositional Defiance Disorder (ODD), attachment issues, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a mood disorder, and my son’s Autism, I had to focus on the positives in my children.
Find the good qualities in your child. Is your son a good artist or ball player? Does your daughter like to be around you? What’s one thing your child does without a fight? Does your daughter do great with younger children? Find that positive attribute, even if it’s only one, and focus on it.

  • Remember where your children came from. Dr. Bruce Perry also says that by age four, your brain is 85% the size it is when you’re an adult. How much did our child’s early life affect their brain? Significantly. ADD LINKS How long will it take for our children to heal and form healthy relationships? More than a few months, more than a year.
  • Praise your children when they’re doing well. Be specific and tell the truth.
  • Focus on any progress your child has made. Think in small increments if needed. Did your son clear his plate off the table today? Did your daughter unplug her curling iron before leaving the bathroom?
  • Find joy in your everyday life. That post is a must read if you feel there’s no joy to be found. We don’t have the same struggles, but I’ve found it difficult to find the joy too, my friend.
  • If there is something you wish you were doing with your child, but you’re not, do it. Then throw away all the guilt.
  • Forget about all the negativity and misconceptions coming from family and friends. This is your family and they’ve never lived your life.

There, that should make you feel better! Actually, what would make you feel better is some hot chocolate, a good book, and a warm bath, but I can’t hand that to you over a blog, or as my father-in-law would say, the World Wide Web.

I hope this helps you see where negativity can come from, how it invades our existence, and how it affects our kids.

Do you see areas of your life that are full of negativity? Maybe just a little? What can you do to change your view?

If you would like to see more posts like this, be sure to check out all posts on the Content page. If you would like to receive each post made here on Lovin’ Adoptin’ you can subscribe on the right side of this page near the top. For more helpful information and links, you can follow me on Facebook and Twitter. Have a great day, evening, afternoon, or morning wherever you are!

be positive for the little people – part 2 (Autism)

photo taken by knightsbridge photography

photo taken by knightsbridge photography

Yesterday I wrote about being positive for the little people – part 1 (if you haven’t read it, go ahead, we’ll see you back here in a bit). Now for the second installment that I promised.

I believe that families are like those bouncy-ball toys that light up. If one family member is lit up, the whole family is blinded. If you can help that one, then everyone benefits. So, here are some ideas to help you stay in the right frame of mind and kick the negative outlook to the curb.

  • Notice your child’s positive attributes and actions and praise them for it (even if your child is nonverbal). Although our son, Jeremiah, is nonverbal, as he has gained more understanding, he smiles and sometimes laughs when we say specific things about him or talk about something that happened to him.
  • Set your expectations a little higher. I don’t mean expect a child who’s never sat at the table for a meal to one day sit for the entire event. Work into things, but don’t let them slide without expectations. For example, Jeremiah is not really affectionate, but he does better than many other kids who have Autism. We’ve a made a point to hug and kiss him several times a day, every day. He’s much more attached to his Dad, so my kisses and hugs were less acceptable. I kept at it and he finally smiles and lets me give him a kiss before Dad puts him in bed. It took four years, but I won! A child knows when we have higher expectations for them.
  • Be aware of your words and your facial expressions when you’re around your child. This should be obvious, but I don’t think it is. I’ve been working on this recently. When it comes to my two kids, I am completely different in what I say aloud about them. Because my son is nonverbal and has less understanding (although this area is really developing lately) I fell into a trap of complaining about his behaviors when he was within earshot. Yeah, I know, not cool. One of my big issues was commenting on how difficult he was on certain days.
    In Be Positive for the Little People (Part 1), I mentioned Joanna’s article. Her first point really hit home with me. She says, “Just because someone is unable to communicate verbally, it doesn’t mean they are unable to hear.” It seems so obvious when I write it out or read it, but it’s so easy to forget when we have a child who can be trying.
    Even parents who don’t have a nonverbal child can fall into this habit, it’s difficult to find time with your spouse, and when you do, you don’t want to be a dump truck, so you may complain about your kids in front of them.

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There are many views on Autism, just as there are many personality types, varying forms of Autism, and different people. Some people can see the amazing and wonderful capabilities the person with Autism has. And some find it problematic, maybe their child is nonverbal, has no social skills or emotional connection, or has a commorbity such as Angelmans syndrome.

What I do know is that we all have to work at focusing more on the positives and kicking the negatives to the curb, and I know in one day there can be hundreds of negatives.

In case you missed it, here is the first post in this series: negativity is contagious

I hope this gives you some ideas on how to be more positive with your child. If you have ideas, please share them with us, we can all benefit from other’s experiences and insight into the special needs world.

If you know someone who has a child with Autism, or even a Grandparent or friend who would benefit from learning more about the subject, feel free to share this with them. You can receive each post made here by subscribing in the upper right, and you can follow me on Twitter and Facebook.

be positive for the little people – part 1 (Autism)

bepositiveAutism1

Some of you who parent a child who has Autism get it, you see the great potential they possess and the intelligence which lies within them. Some parents have difficulty seeing those positive attributes in their children.

I fall somewhere in the middle, though I hope closer toward the former. I am making progress in understanding my son’s capabilities, and I wrote a post about what I am learning called Viewing My Nonverbal Child Differently, if you haven’t read it, I recommend doing so. Not only because I wrote it, oh no, but because there is a link to a post Joanna Keating-Velasco penned that is wonderfully insightful. You don’t have to have a child who is nonverbal to read it, I think it applies to many of us.

Last week I wrote about negativity being contagious. It is, and as I said in that post, we may not realize when we are surrounded by negativity, nor when we are filling our life with it.

When we have a child with special needs, it can be so easy to slide into negativity. Not only do I mean saying things like, “This is so hard,” “Why can’t you sit still?” “I can’t handle this anymore,” “Can’t you eat something else?” I also mean the way in which we talk to others in front of our kids, and what we think, as in our expectations of our child.

SLIPPING INTO NEGATIVE NO, NO LAND

Our son, Jeremiah, had been doing better than he had in months. He had gone through some drastic regression, but finally after several months we saw that glimpse of hope. Wow, it’s hard to stay out of negative land when your child regresses significantly and stays there. Jeremiah had stopped drinking juice, which is how I got this AMAZING, sent from heaven, fish oil in him, his sensory needs were off the chart (well, with SPD, they’re already off the chart, but this was worse), he was no longer employing his limited use of PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). I was falling farther into that Negative No, No Land.

Finally, I gave it some serious prayer. And, frankly, and completely honest, a miracle happened the next day. We gained, progress was made; there was less angry gnawing at his clothes, less intense sensory hyperactivity, a happier boy, more emotional connection. I know some of you may not believe in God or miracles, and if not, I invite you to spend a couple days in our life because they’re real.

I was negative in those really difficult months, I said things I’m not proud of. I wasn’t calm some days, I got irritated with my daughter (she doesn’t have Autism) when she wasn’t doing anything wrong. Not only was I seeing everything with a negative bent, I was beginning to feel guilty because of my actions and attitude.

NEGATIVITY CAN STEM FROM GUILT

Sometimes our negativity comes from the guilt within. When we fall short of our expectations of ourselves guilt arises. We don’t feel we’re good enough to parent a child with special needs, we don’t say the right things, do the right things. We aren’t gentle enough when our child is jumping on the couch, and we are sitting him down for the 115th time that hour. We don’t feel we do enough therapy, we don’t have enough energy, we don’t try hard enough to feed her a different, healthier food. We don’t notice when everyone else wants to give us a “mother or father of the year” sticker, because we feel stickers of shame, thinking, “You don’t see me at home, or in the car. You don’t know everything about my parenting.”

The reality is that we all have aspects of our life we need to work on. Not one of us is perfect, but we can all make a decision to be better tomorrow. We can all change how we parent.

No matter where our negativity stems from, be it our own guilt over our “failures” or because of our child’s behaviors, our kids can sense how we feel. It comes across as displeasure, condescending remarks, lower expectations, less effort, and depression. I’ve had to work on all of these areas. I still haven’t reached knighthood, far from it, but I have learned some great lessons, and ways to do it better. You’ve read about those in the links I shared and I will share more ideas to help you stay in the right frame of mind later this week in Part 2.

 

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negativity is contagious (adoption/foster)

Ebooks have this nifty technology that enables a reader to highlight a section of text. If enough people highlight a passage, it will be underlined in every issue of that ebook sold. In some books I’ve read, hundreds of people have highlighted a section.

I see it going like this: Reader sees underlined sentence. Reader hovers over said underlined sentence and sees that 657 other uber intelligent readers underlined said section. Reader thinks, “If 657 other uber intelligent readers underlined said section, it must be worth underlining,” so Reader does.

Besides it being creepy that whatever we highlight (and probably everything we write) in our ebooks is recorded, we see that the general populace are like sheep. We’ve heard it before, and we ignore it, but it has validity. You can flip through one-hundred plus pages in an ebook, come across a “special sentence that emulates all of mankind” and 843 other fellow readers agree that ONE sentence is highlighter worthy, not the past 6,000. They all happen to agree. Right.

negativityiscontagious
You may be wondering what the title of this post, Negativity is Contagious, has to do with following the crowd. Well, when we surround ourselves with negativity, it grows, it festers, and we don’t even realize until it has crept into every crevice of our lives. An example of this came from a friend of mine who grew up in a home that was riddled with negativity, her mom complained about everyone and everything. Then as an adult, my friends mother made a comment about her being negative. My friend said to her mom, “How do you think I became like this?” Her mother replied, “I don’t know.” Negativity had become part of her mom’s life, and she didn’t even recognize there was a problem.

Negativity sneaks in through several avenues, and much of it has to do with us following everyone else. What happens when we spend time on adoption focused forums where parents continually complain about their children? What about Autism forums where parents separate themselves because their child’s behaviors are worse than others? What happens when we fraternize with friends who constantly share the negative aspects of their kids, never looking at the positive?

If we aren’t careful, we fall into a trap that’s floating down the river with the caged fishcurrent. We don’t want to voice our opinion because it’s so different from everyone else’s. We want to be involved with these people because they’re the only ones who really get what our life is like. But, we “catch” the Negative Bug and go along with the crowd. It seeps into our lives and makes us view every aspect with shaded lenses, the positive attributes of our spouse, children,  and others who we should support, are shut out and only the unfavorable is seen.

This can be detrimental to everyone in the family when all we see is negative. Our spouse can do no good, our kids are persistent pests, our life isn’t satisfying anymore. Negativity is a tenacious tree that outgrows its all too small pot. It will swallow you up and spit you out.

Please understand, I know there needs to be a place for us to vent about difficult days to others who have been there. We need support to make it through when we are dealing with hurting children, disabilities, and disorders. We need to know we are not alone in our journey. However, we also need to temper the complaints with positive comments. We need to weigh what others say and not jump in and follow what everyone else is saying or doing.

Throughout the following weeks I will be writing about negativity and how it affects our kids, our spouse, and how it causes dissension in our communities. And so you know, these words aren’t coming from Mrs. Polly Positive, I struggle with negativity just as much as many of you, I have be aware of where it’s creeping into my life to kill and destroy any joy or progress.

Followup posts:
be positive for the little people – part 1 (Autism)
be positive for the little people – part 2 (Autism)
give negativity a noose (adoption)

How have you seen negativity creep into your life or someone else’s? Have you seen a crowd mentality turn bad?