Last week was our second full week of our new sticker chart. Each of our five children can earn 4 stickers each day. Each sticker helps us move along in our day and helps me to keep track of how the kids are doing. The first sticker of the day is for getting dressed, brushing your hair and teeth and for eating breakfast. In the past any one of these seemingly simple tasks may or may not have occured. The second sticker is for chores and for the older kids getting ready for school.
All of the children have to put away their breakfast dishes and have one other chore such as feeding the dog or cat. The three kids who "go" to school also have to make sure their back packs are ready and they have lunches ready. (I make sandwiches they get to choose their snacks and juicepack) The third sticker is for homework being finished or for the tow boys at home to have their home schooling work done. The fourth sticker is for good behavior and positive attitudes. Only AFTER that fourth sticker is on the chart may the child watch television, play Webkinz on the computer or play in general. This includes Playstation and the WII. I had noticed that one of my children was not participating in Sticker Chart last week. This is not surprising to us because this is the SECOND behavior motivator we've put into play for our family mostly to help this same child. When asked why she had not participated she said she did not know where the stickers were. I thought that was interesting because the other four seemed to find them fairly easily and made sure I gave them their behavior sticker each day. When I reminded her that 3 days this week she did not wear clean clothes by her own choice (ie not changing her socks even though she had plenty of clean socks and I had even told her to change her socks) That by Thursday when I tried to bruch her hair it was knotted and she told me she hadn't brushed it in a long time. She had not done her chore at all that week and she even admitted that she did not have good behavior. The only sticker she had earned was for her home work being done and maybe Monday's getting ready sticker. I asked her why she didn't ask any of the 6 of us where the stickers were and WHERE had she looked. The stony silence was my only answer. I knew that Rob had planned a movie night for Friday Family Fun time so When that time came we informed her that if you don't participate in the family during the week then you don't get to do fun things on the weekend. I told her that while the rest of the family was going to watch a movie she would be writing a sentense as to why she did not get each individual sticker. I wanted her to take responsibility for her own actions and this seemed like a good way. Well after what was close to an hour her first sentence was still not copied (I had started it for her and she just had to fill in the reason) and she was screaming. For those of you who don't have children who do these sustained screaming, kicking and all out reigns of terror sessions you may not understand what was about to happen. I am so happy for you that you can't. For those of you who have witnessed these types of tantrums (not the mini ones like the ones my other children have done which include a stomping upstairs or sometimes even an all out throwing themselves down and crying that lasts for a few minutes before they pull themselves together. ) know that I feel for you.
I should probably note that our daughter has an attachment disorder. We naively thought that becasue she was only nine months old when we adopted her that our love would be enough. Well now I know that there is even a book entitled "When love is not enough" and it can be true. A child that is abandoned by her birth parents and does not form an attached bond to a mother figure in her first year of life has not learned to trust. That is what's supposed to happen your first year of life. When you have a need someone is supposed to come and take care of you and that need. When that does not happen it leaves a child feeling anger, alone, realizing that they only have themselves and that adults are not to be trusted. It's incredibly sad and painful for both the child and the mother that does decide to love her. By nine months of age my daughter had a wall up. It was built from not being fed, changed, cuddled, and outright neglect and possibly abuse. I understand that part of it but I still have trouble with my daughter seeing me as a "stranger". (as she said again this weekend) She really does not love us. As difficult as that is to believe and accept she doesn't. I believe that in our daughter's case she needs to prove to us that she is a bad girl. Her birthparents left her and since they are "good" she must be "bad". She also needs to prove to herself that I will not love her if she is bad enough. She also tells these outright crazy lies to me to see if I'll believe her. This is to prove to herself that I am stupid and can not be trusted. Her biggest thing though is to engage in fights with me to either push my buttons or do outrageous thngs with the goal to make me upset. I read that she does this to help herself feel in control. That if I express anger or furstration it makes her feel more in control. I did not totally believe this the first time I read about it but then I tried NOT getting mad and just smiled and told her that I was not going to yell at her and that I still loved her. That put her in a tailspin! She started screaming and throwing things. She kept saying she was bad and that she needed to be in trouble. Then it was very clear to me that this is what she had been doing all along. So now back to this weekend.
This child does not like writing the truth. I found out the first time I had her write out about an incident that occured. I wanted her to see the order of events and how her story had changed. (how she had lied) She was furious with me and herself. The written word truly is a powerful thing. So having her write out why she did not earn or take a sticker was a way to hopefully help her see that it was not that she didn't know where the stickers were. (I wasn't going to argue that point with her.) I wanted her to see why she would not have gotten the stickers anyways. (Except the school work ones which she did earn) I wanted her to take responsibility for her actions. This turned into a saga.... two hours later and she still had not finished with the third sentence. She also insisten on writing that it was because she did not know where the stickers were. She ended up ripping out pages of her journal, (the happy letters to her birthparents) and then traching her room. She was MAD. She would not take responsilblity for her own actions and she certainly was not going to put it in writing. To make a long story short it was probably the worse weekend we've had (Rob, H and I) in a very long time.
This morning I printed out another sticker chart. She went to school without her shoebox habitat finished and I had to email her teacher about why. I don't know what she'll do this week. Funny having typed that last sentence that sums up life with H. It is very difficult raising a child with attachment issues. It is difficult on my marriage, me personally, our other 4 children and most of all on H. I need to love her through this but it is difficult many times. I need to help her become a person who can eventually give and accept love. That is why I keep going back for more and why I keep giving her more and more of my heart.