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Can't Self Soothe


Athena

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My six year old had a melt down first thing this morning over something tiny (what else is new?) that she didn't get her way on. Sometimes I flip out over the interminable whining, crying, yelling and 'I hate you's!' that can go on for two hours but I managed instead to slow my rage down to the point of calmly trying to figure out what's going on.

Besides the obvious - she doesn't like it when she doesn't get her way and she's trying everything in her power to change that - this time another thought hit me. She cannot self soothe. I know she couldn't when she was a baby, but I didn't really think about what a terrible impact that has on one's life as you grow up. At her age, nine times out of ten, it involves interpersonal relationships, not simple boo-boos or gas. Parents, out of sheer frustration, give in eventually. But never nicely - it's usually accompanied by "You little shit, here you go, hope you're happy you've ruined everybody's day, etc. etc.!!!*$#%!!!!!!" Which means she will never learn the social lessons - how to share, being mindful of others' feelings, being grateful, etc, etc - basically 'how to get along with others'. She is already having problems with friends so is a great candidate to be socially isolated.

So since giving in is no longer an option, and since she can't self soothe, holding her (with earplugs if necessary) might just work. At least it did this morning. And I caught myself doing it the other day. Burying my own rage and ignoring the triggers she's causing (These behaviours are so like her Dad's:mad:) just long enough that I can hold her without wanting to kill her or do what my Mom did to me. Letting her know she is loved no matter what (of course with my demonizing/idealizing tendencies, at these moments I feel like she is the devil incarnate, here to send me to hell on earth:eek: so that's a mighty tall order). Just bearing it. Giving her what a kid needs from a parent in order to grow up happy and well adjusted. Forgetting my own pain, putting her needs first. Recognizing what her needs are (to feel loved unconditionally, not to always get her way and not to be stuck in solitary confinement in the basement to 'cry it out') So, so hard to do when it was never done for me:(. But I think that soothing her is the first step to enabling her to self-soothe. How do you self-soothe when you think your Mom hates you? When you know you're being a little shit and you deserve their wrath? I think at best, you just end up shutting down, hating yourself, withdrawing and becoming miserable and isolated. At worst, you don't survive. And you never, ever end up learning to self-soothe. You just turn to coping method after coping method and they never ever work in the long run.

Time to break the generational cycle.

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Thanks Zach. Yes I'm proud when I feel like I'm finally helping them. The balance is shifting to 'better'. Strangely I'm learning how to be a better parent due to lessons from my own therapy as opposed to their therapy. But there's still a lot of work to be done. When your six year old takes a kitchen knife out of the drawer and cuts herself with it in a fit of rage, it hits you like a ton of bricks - There's much damage to be reversed. Happened only a week or two ago. I will however try to turn it into a positive and believe that this experience will teach them a great respect for sharp objects so that it doesn't come up again at an age where they can really do damage.

Like me with my own therapy, there are times when they will get worse before they get better. A parent who is actually learning to act like one for the first time leaves a lot to be desired. Hearing an irrevocable "NO!" from Mom is not a welcome change in their eyes.

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(((Athena))) Just keep holding on - I'm sure you'll make it! I know kids can be very upsetting and with a childhood like yours it's so hard to ack appropriately, but you've finaly find the right way and although it's a hard way, you can do it. I'm happy for this new experience you've got!!! :(

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