Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Taking Control of Tantrums: Tips for Working with ADD, RAD and "Average" Kids

Tantrums are something all parents have to deal with, whether they are your own bio. kids, or foster or adopted children. Kids with behavioral or psychological issues of course add an additional complexity to dealing with anger issues, and require some sensitivity, however, at the very core of a tantrum, the approach is the same.

We have talked quite a bit about tantrum behavior here on Foster Parent Rescue, but some of our newest readers may not have stumbled upon those articles in our archives.  I wanted to mention them now, as we approach summer-break from school, since the kids will be home more and behaviors may initially worsen from boredom or a change in their routine. (Something we will discuss next week again as well.)

For right now though, let me refresh your memories and point our new readers to some previously posted advice on controlling tantrums.  Please check out these links on our blog:
Blowing the Whistle on Arguing: 
Great Conversations: On RAD Kids and Introverted Tantrums: Trying the Whistle Technique
Tantrums and Trust Disorders: Doorways to Better Relationships
Dealing with the Introverted RAD Kid: Introverted Tantrums and the Fall Back Technique
Avoiding Temper Tantrums in Asperger (and other) Kids: A Link


 We also wanted to add this recent article from PsychCentral.com about dealing with tantrums and ADD kids (which is appropriate for all kids really.) Check it out:

ADHD & Kids: 9 Tips to Tame Tantrums

ADHD & Kids: 9 Tips to Tame Tantrums

By Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S.

In kids with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), impulsivity manifests in many different ways.
“Kids can impulsively run into the street. They can hit another student in line at school. They can climb up on the roof and jump off, hoping to fly like Superman,” said Terry Matlen, ACSW, a psychotherapist and author of Survival Tips for Women with AD/HD.
And they can have tantrums. There are many reasons why kids with ADHD have meltdowns. For instance, “for many children with ADHD there is no internal understanding of ‘later.’ It’s now or now,” Matlen said. They have a hard time putting their wants and needs on hold. Because they’re kids, they’ve also yet to learn how to calm themselves or express their needs and emotions appropriately, she said.
“A little disappointment becomes the end of the world and nothing seems to stop the child from, what looks like, obsessing over their intense needs of that moment.”
They also might feel overwhelmed by external events, such as “too much noise or excitement at a party… Combined, these symptoms make it very hard to stay calm when under stress or when they feel fearful or anxious.”
When your child has a tantrum, especially in public, it can be tough to know how to respond. Some parents vacillate from one extreme to another, from placating their child and giving in to punishing them and getting angry, according to Matlen.
But while it might seem impossible, you can navigate the rocky road of tantrums. Here are expert strategies to prevent tantrums or tame them when they start.
1. Pinpoint the source.
Psychotherapist Stephanie Sarkis, Ph.D, suggested looking “at what might be triggering your child’s behaviors.” When you can find the source of the behavior, she said, you can make strides toward changing it.
Knowing what triggers your child, Matlen said, can help you defuse their tantrum as early as possible. For instance, is your child hungry? Are they sleep-deprived? Are they experiencing strong emotions? Once you pinpoint the underlying problem try to solve it, she said.
This also is a good tool for preventing tantrums. For instance, if your child can’t handle the overstimulating environment of a local fair, just don’t take them, Matlen said.
2. Explain consequences in advance.
Before a tantrum ever starts, Matlen suggested talking to your child about the negative consequences of bad behaviors. She gave this example: “If you scream and cry when I turn off the TV, you won’t be able to watch it later today.”
Matlen took this approach when her daughter was 5 years old. She tended to have tantrums when she didn’t get a new toy at the store. “Before our next outing, I told her that if she had a tantrum, I would simply pick her up and take her home. No toys and no more visits to the store for a very long time.”
Her daughter still had a meltdown. But instead of getting furious or frustrated, Matlen picked up her daughter and took her to the car. She drove home without saying a word. And it never happened again.
“This, of course, may not work for all children, but it’s an example of planning ahead and having an outcome that everyone understands.”
3. Talk to your child, and encourage them to talk back.
Talk calmly and quietly to your child, and acknowledge their feelings, Matlen said. Doing so helps your child feel heard, Sarkis said.
For instance, according to Matlen, you might say, “I know you’re angry that I won’t buy you that toy today. It feels frustrating and it makes you feel like exploding inside, doesn’t it?”
Then, encourage your child to express their emotions, as well: “I’d be awfully upset too if I couldn’t get what I wanted right now — let’s talk about why this is so important to you so you can help me to understand.”
4. Distract your child.
For younger kids, distraction may work, Matlen said. “Talk about something completely different, like how excited you are to watch the TV show you planned, when you all get home.”

Read the rest here :  http://psychcentral.com/lib/2013/adhd-kids-9-tips-to-tame-tantrums/

Friday, August 22, 2014

Dealing with the Introverted RAD Kid: Introverted Tantrums and the Fall Back Technique


by John and Diane

RAD kids or children with trust, attachment or trauma disorders, tantrum or “go off” in two different ways. Some are extroverted: meaning they direct their anger outwards- towards You (lucky you…) calling you names, breaking your stuff etc, while others are introverted, meaning they try to get away from the problem. They may still have words for you, but most of the time they are muttered under their breath as they head towards their safe place, usually their bedroom.

Although it may seem that this type of child is easier to deal with, no outward explosion , they are really more difficult, because they are hiding, both their feelings and their physical selves from you, so you cannot work out their issues with them. They simply shut down.  The harder you push on them or try to force them to do something, the more closed off they get.

I have had a lot of success getting these type of RAD kids to open up (with time and God’s help) by using a Fall Back approach.

 When your child is closing him or herself off in their room, I use a couple of tricks to help bond, build trust and bring them out.

First, I stay lower than the child. That means I am on the floor most of the time when I am trying to talk to them, but only do this if you feel safe to do so. I may not even make eye contact when I am talking to them. I  always using a low voice and low voice tones.  I do a lot of blaming myself for what happened using words like, “I should have known better…. Its not your fault…”  I call this the Fall Back Technique.

Basically the Fall Back Technique is this:  I am always the one who is wrong, and I tell them why (which is sometimes comically difficult, so you better be creative.) For example, you might say, “I should have known better, I know you have this problem, I should never have done this or I should have stopped you from doing that, I am sorry.”  This way you take the pressure off the child. You remain present with them in the room and their mind begins to work and they start to open up. 

Now they let you ask questions, like, “So, if this happens again, what can I do to help you?” or “ “How come that made you so mad, I am sorry, but what happened, tell me so I don’t do it again…”

By taking this Fall Back position you make the child feel like they are helping YOU by expressing how they are feeling and what they were thinking when they were having their issue.  This way it doesn’t feel like you are pushing them but they are Teaching you about who they are.  Even if they are misleading you or saying things that are not entirely true, they are still giving you clues about how they really feel.  This is all information you can use later on when your bond is stronger and they are more ready to face their truth. (A subject for another time.) 
Don’t get confused. You are taking a lower position, but the child will not think you are weak. Once the episode is over, you go back to enforcing your house rules and maintaining the control over your home as you did before. This is a gentle moment to help your RAD child open up, an embrace of sorts that helps build the foundation for the future. 

image:  License
Attribution Some rights reserved by libertygrace0


Saturday, August 2, 2014

Back to School Planning for Kids with ADD, Trust Disorders and More


By John and Diane.

NOTE: This posting is about ADD and Trust disorder kids who CAN attend school.  For all those parents who are dealing with kids who aren't attending or cannot attend school yet due to behavioral issues, we have information for you as well, and are working on our post about home-teaching and transitioning to school.  We know you are out there... and we hope you are hanging in there.... 

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All parents are anxious to get their kids back to school, but those of us with high energy ADD, ADHD or kids with other impulsivity issues and trust issues, well, we are even MORE excited about the prospect of a break from the endless attention-needy kids.

If you have been successful and diligent about sticking to a schedule as I suggested in my blog post  
The ADHD and RAD Kid Summer Planner: or "Why I Didn't Lose My Mind While My Kid's were on Summer Vacation"  then the transition won’t be too difficult. Having a routine that you have stuck to with wake up and bedtimes means less of an adjustment to your routine-loving kids, so that will be to your benefit.  If you haven’t been able to keep the school routine going, you still have a chance to create one that will make the back –to-school transition less dramatic for your kids.

So, let’s just focus on the most important thing that kids with ADD, ADHD and trust disorders need and want.  STRUCTURE AND ROUTINE.   If you have fallen out of the usual wake and bedtimes from the school schedule, begin adjusting those times now so that the child is waking and going to bed at normal school times at least three weeks before school begins.

If you haven’t done any homeschooling during the summer and have let your ADD and RAD kids do their own thing, start pulling in the reins.  I had recommended keeping to a regime throughout the summer of learning and exercise programs to mimic lesson times at school to keep kids use to the school day schedule and to minimize anxiety and tantrums. If you have done this you are probably having a realatively decent summer.  If not, you are Definitely ready for school to start. :)

Re-introduce a daily schedule of play, chore and learning times. ADD and RAD or kids with trust and impulsivity issues do better when they have structure and routine, so their anxiety levels will decrease and outbursts will be limited. A schedule similar to their school day with outdoor play and lunchtimes about the same as at school will help them make a smooth transition back to class.

Finally, get yourself organized. Start planning now for doctors appointments, teacher meetings and purchasing school supplies so that you don’t feel stressed as the big day approaches. Your kids can pick up on your stress levels, which will set them off, so do yourself a favor and plan ahead for all those things you need to take care of so that you aren’t feeling pressure.

Here is a week to week planner for you that might help:
 July 9 – 15   Start adjusting the child’s schedule to school schedule times.
July 16 – 22  Make doctors appt. to check on medications levels, get immunizations, and physicals for sports if necessary.  Update immunization records.  Update your emergency contact numbers. Make sure any medication changes are given to school nurse. Start putting together a file to give to the school with the list of medications,caseworkers names and numbers, your phone numbers and doctors and any allergies. Very important for New Foster Kids! (sometimes the schools have this information from the year before if YOU need it for new foster kids!)

July 23 – 29  Get back to school clothing and shoes.

July 30 – Aug 5 Get list of school supplies needed and shop the sales. Child should be on School Day time schedule now.

Aug 6 – Aug 12 Kids clean and organize their rooms and homework spaces. Get kids hair cut and prep for school pics.

Aug 19 – Aug 26  Get teacher’s names and email addresses, Get digital copies of IEPs that you may have to send to various caseworkers, teachers or doctors throughout the year.   Start a file folder with the new school year marked on it for all of the upcoming paperwork you may get and want to keep track of. Put a list of child's meds in the folder for easy referral.
Get new school year calenders printed up to mark days-off, events and appointments.
Everyone celebrates a new and happy start back at school

Good luck everyone!

If you have more tips on how to make the transition easier on your foster, adopted or bio kids with issues like RAD, ADD or Aspergers, please comment here or on our Facebook page!

For more information, check out these resources:


Getting ADHD Kids Back to School


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Blowing the Whistle on Arguing


by John and Diane

Working with foster kids means often dealing with kids with multiple behavioral, emotional and cognitive issues. Creative approaches when dealing with frustrating and escalating behavioral situations in the home is the only way to maintain sanity for both the foster parent and the kids in the house. This is how my whistle blowing technique came to be.

I use routine approaches like 123 Magic and Love and Logic everyday with my kids, but for stair-stepping rage and tantrums, this new technique has evolved and has really worked for me and the boys I have had in my care.

To give you some background, for parents who haven’t had kids who are detached or have multiple emotional issues, a normal day for me might include an incident like this:

I might tell Bobby to take a shower. He doesn't want to. I will use 123 Magic or Love and Logic techniques to get him to comply. He resists. Now, this is an issue I cannot lose, so I have to eventually yell at Bobby to try to get him to comply, he will not. I may have to call the police to come and tell him to take a shower (and I have) just to win the argument. Once you begin the fight, you cannot lose.

The next technique I tried was this: If the child refused to do what I asked, I would recite to him all the things I did for him that day, week or month. I found that sometimes kids would reflect on my sacrifices and comply. Others would not.

Then, I noticed that as the child’s refusal and anger would escalate, if I matched his tone and volume, and got even louder, the child would back down and stop the tantrum behavior. This is a tough route to go for the foster parent, and everyone else in the household, as, even though the yelling isn’t done by the parent in anger, it is still loud and disturbing. Once the child’s rage stopped I could back down the argument and begin rebuilding the relationship with the child immediately by telling him that I love him and explaining the reasons for the original request.
Eventually, this gets tiresome and it is a difficult technique for a foster Mom to accomplish as her voice may be softer and she may be a less authoritative figure in the home.

A foster parent is only human, and the constant re-directing and arguing to get a difficult, detached child to do simple routine tasks can be exhausting. This is when I thought of using the whistle system. I realized it wasn't so much the words I was saying when I matched my pre-teen boys verbal arguing or tantrum, but the tone and volume that made the most difference and stopped the tantrum. I decided to talk to his case managers and psychiatrist about using a whistle instead of my voice in a situation of an escalating rage.

My technique was thought out and discussed before use with both his therapists and my foster kids so that everyone understood the use and reasoning behind the whistle. The explanation to the kids was this: I would tell the kids to do something and if they argued with me, I would blow the whistle one short time. If they persist in arguing instead of doing what they were told, I would blow the whistle again. If they continued to argue, I would continue to blow the whistle more loudly and until which time they would do as they were told or went to their room for a time out. Since the kids were already familiar with the countdown system, they understood immediately the consequences of the whistle. They also understood that the whistle was to stop unnecessary back talk and that once the whistle started blowing, they were not going to be winning the argument.

Among his therapists and caseworkers, we discussed the benefits of this behavioral modification system. If it worked, and was used consistently, my kids with attachment disorders, alcohol syndrome issues and ADHD, with all of their impulsive behavioral issues, would be more easily brought under control when in a rage, and that, potentially, the whistle-ending rage technique would be transferable to school teachers or other caregivers for my kids.

So, I began keeping my whistle in my pocket. When, inevitably, a child started back talking and refusing to do as they were told, I pulled out the whistle and blew one quick blow.
I then reminded my child about the whistle technique, and that there would be no more arguing. As he began to argue once more, I blew the whistle again. He stopped. As he started to argue once again, I blew it another time. He stopped. After a few minutes of this, the child left the room without a tantrum, and either does his task or takes a time out.

Now, I don’t use the whistle all the time, and if I don’t have it handy, all I have to do is ask someone to get the whistle for me, and the child who is beginning to argue or tantrum will stop and focus on the fact that the whistle is coming! The unpleasant sound and the knowledge that the argument will be useless are very efficient in stopping the behavior.

Peer pressure also helps make the whistle technique effective. Let’s face it, the only thing worse than hearing people yell is hearing a whistle blow, and I often hear one child tell the other child to stop their bad behavior because the other child doesn't want to hear the whistle.
So, to sum it up, here is why I like the whistle technique to stop tantrum and arguing behavior with my attachment disorder/ADHD kids:

· It’s easy to use by both Mom and Dad.
· I don’t have to argue anymore, which makes my life less frustrating.
· I don’t have to think of 100 different ways of re-stating my reasons for asking my kids to do the action I requested.
· If the child’s behavior is getting to me, he or she won’t know it, because the whistle blowing can only get louder or softer. The child will have no sense of victory if they don’t feel like they are winning by affecting me in any way.
· I don’t have to worry about accidentally swearing or letting my own emotions get the best of me in a verbal argument. Foster parents aren’t perfect, but the whistle will make it easier to be better.
· It’s easier for me to talk to the child afterwards because blowing the whistle is both a distraction from the hurtful things they may be saying to me and a stress release for me, so I can be nurturing and calm after the fight to help heal and re-bond.
· I am not mentally or physically as worn out or tired. My voice is not hoarse after a hard day.
· The whistle around my neck is a visual reminder to the kids not to argue with me.
· The whistle technique is transferable. I can teach it to the other people in my life who may watch or care for my foster kids so that they can have better control over the children’s behavior while they are in their homes.
· After you use it a few times you don’t have to use it very often after that. All you do is have to reach for it and the child backs down from his argumentative behavior.

Why the whistle technique will work on your child.
· It’s louder than they can yell or swear at you.
· It stops them from thinking of a new argument because they can’t finish the first one.
· It disrupts the flow of the argument and the sound may hurt their ears, make them laugh or startle them, but it is not abusive.
· The whistle is annoying enough so that peer pressure will help to modify the child’s behavior in the home.
· Stubborn children who try to out-yell the whistle will eventually give up and realize they cannot physically compete. Eventually they will go to their room and the situation is diffused.

Always consult your caseworkers and the foster child’s psychiatrist before using the whistle technique.

Read:  Whistle Blowing Technique Update: Moving Forward  next

image adapted from: flickr: By anneh632



Thursday, June 26, 2014

Lying Yourself Sick? How You Can Help Your Foster Kids Stay Healthy


by John and Diane. 
Shifting eyes is a sign that someone is lying.

A recent article in US News and World Report talks about a study done at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana about the connection between lying and health.

The study found that adults tell an average of 11 lies a week, about 1 or 2 a day and that all these little white lies can add up to minor health issues like headaches, sore throats, sadness and stress.


Over time, it is theorized, that the cumulative effects could include heart issues, high blood pressure, stomach or digestive disorders and muscular tension.

In the study, they asked participants to stop lying during the designated time period, and found that health complaints decreased, supporting the hypothesis that by telling the truth, your health, as well as your relationships will improve.

What does this mean for foster kids who lie?

Well, once you get to know your foster or adopted children over a period of time, you can usually tell when they are lying. “Tells” like looking away, shifting eyes, mumbling words, crossing the arms in front of the body, or nodding the head to contradict speech  (so, if the child is saying yes, but nodding no) can all mean the child is lying, in which case you can attempt to correct the behavior and cut off the stress of perpetrating and continuing the lie.

If your child starts exhibiting symptoms such as an upset stomach, stress, avoidance behavior such as not wanting to go to school (if it’s a behavior that is out of the ordinary for the child), tearfulness, peeing in his or her room or closet, change in appetite or other physical reaction to stress, this may be a signal to you to communicate with the child to determine if the child is hiding a secret or protecting a lie. Once the root of the problem is discovered, you can point to the physical symptoms the child has suffered from and remind them that the suffering was needless if they had been truthful.

RAD Kids or Kids with Attachment Disorders 

However, some children are more focused and savvy, and are able to tell a lie without showing a guilty conscience. Children with a reactive detachment disorder or significant psychological disorders are able to lie effectively without any feelings of guilt or remorse.

These children, common sense would tell us, would not feel any physical symptoms from telling lies, but more likely may feel stress and other physical ailments when the lies are confronted and their manipulative and lying behavior is exposed. 

Overtime, if exposure is continuous and if the behavior and attachment disorder does not improve, the child may experience effects.  Once the child reaches adulthood however, lies and deception are easier to maintain and the stress level may decrease as the person begins to live independently.

Need help with kids who lie? You can refer to our posts for help in addressing lying behavior with your foster kids. Check out:  White Lies or Story Embellishment: Is there a Difference to a Child Who Lies? and    Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire: The Three Kinds of Liars and How to Stop Them

Resources:  


image: Flickr: License
AttributionNoncommercial Some rights reserved by nofrills 

Monday, May 19, 2014

The ADHD and RAD Kid Summer Planner: or "Why I Didn't Lose My Mind While My Kid's were on Summer Vacation" by Foster Parent Rescue

By John and Diane
(First appeared on our blog 5/8/12)

We are only a few short weeks away from summer break from school around here, and if you are a foster parent, or parent of a tough kid, like a child with ADD, ADHD or an attachment disorder, to name a few, the thought of days and days with your child looking to you and saying "I'm bored, "or worse, leaves you quivering in a cold sweat at night, I can help.  I have faced this challenge year after year, and although I always do "the happy dance" when school starts back up again, me and my boys always get through it.

The key to a successful summer with minimal tantrums, episodes, blow outs, running –aways, fits, fights and other miscellaneous catastrophes is sticking to a schedule. 

Schedules are just another word for "security" for kids with trust issues, like a lot of foster-kids, and help kids with attention-deficit issues know what to expect and when to expect it. Schedules help control the constant questions and demands, and provide a structure that mimics the school system- which is something the kids are used to and comfortable with. Kid's with behavior issues usually "spin-out" when school lets out because their structure is gone and the lack of structure allows anxiety to build.

So, having said that, begin the process of getting ready for summer break before school lets out. Get an idea of what their lunch time is at school, what time they have gym class, and what time they have quiet study.
Now, look at your own resources and schedule. If you have a parent full-time at home, decide if you want to continue to get the kids up and dressed at the normal school time, or allow for an additional hour of sleep (as a consideration for Mom or Dad only.)  You will want to write additional chores in for each child for each day, since they won't be doing homework, and if you have children who need help with school, you may do homeschooling hours as well.  You will want to do some physical activities as well, whether it is riding bikes, or participating in programs at the local YMCA.  

Next, sit down with a large dry erase calendar and write in each day's time schedule. It should include times to get up, dressed and eat meals, bedtime, and naps for younger children.  Write in each child's daily chores like washing dishes after meals, daily cleaning of their rooms, cleaning up after pets, folding their own laundry, whatever you need. Add in study hours for homeschooled children or kids' who are behind in school and need the added tutoring.  Each day should have a leisure activity planned, like fishing, riding bikes, swimming, basketball or playing a team sport.  Each child may have a special chore that they enjoy like gardening for one child, cooking for another.

I usually allow kids to stay in their rooms once they are settled for bed and read, or play quietly by themselves until lights-out.

Be sure to include your own weekly chores if you have to bring the kids with you, like grocery shopping.

Once you have the week written in, stick to it as best you can. Of course, things come up, but the waking and bedtime hours should stay the same as much as possible, and chores should remain consistent as much as possible.  The closer you stick to the schedule, the easier your child will be to handle and the less agitated and anxious their own behavior will be.  

When you are happy with the schedule, put it under plastic or Plexiglas and hang it on the wall where kids can read it and know what to expect for each day, but cannot erase your hard work!

Have you got some other tricks for getting through the summer with your challenging kids? Please share your successful tips here with us or on our FB page!
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

FosterCare Month/ Foster Parent Rescue BirdHouse Challenge! May 1 - 30 2014

Hi Friends!
In honor of Foster Care Month, we here at Foster Parent Rescue wanted to do something fun, and therapeutic, for our foster families and kids this year... a Birdhouse Challenge.

Here's How it Works:
1.  Build from scratch or pick up an inexpensive plain (unpainted) wood birdhouse from your local craft store. They are generally under $5.00.  One Birdhouse per child. All Ages.
2.  Work with your foster, adopted or troubled kid to decorate the house any way they'd like.  Talk to them about how they'd like the house to look. Talk to them about how the house is going to welcome a bird family and give them shelter.  How would they want to make the birds feel welcome?
If they have a hard time getting started, ask them to think about some of their favorite things and to bring those things to the birdhouse to decorate it... They can use their favorite colors, they can glue on their old- favorite action figures, glue on fake flowers, paint on a scene or do whatever they'd like.

The most important part of this project is the discussion that takes place during the painting... You can open up a very interesting conversation about what a "home" is, what makes a home, and find out what type of things your child might need to feel welcome.  This is ESPECIALLY useful with new kids coming into your home, so refer back to this project all season long when a new kid comes in.. use it anytime to help bond and begin a conversation about providing shelter, and what a "home" is all about....

3. Once the birdhouse is decorated, take a digital photo of the birdhouse and send it to me here or post it to me on our Facebook page.  Be sure to include the child's First Name and City, State or Country. (No pics of the kids please.  Sorry, we'd love to see them, but it's a privacy thing.)

Please send your birdhouse pictures to us here by May 30th.

In June, we are going to gather all the photos together and put them into a collage we will post on all of our sites.. Facebook, the Blog and our Google Plus Page.  We would also love for you to share your stories about the experience with us.  If you had any great conversations, what the kids thought about the experience etc.

And, of course, don't forget to hang your birdhouse outside for new birds to come and move in.

We hope you'll participate and spread the word.  It will be a fun project for you and your kids, and can open up meaningful conversations if you spend the time to consider the true meaning of building a home... big or small.

We are trying to wrangle up some cool gifts for participants (randomly picked) but at this time have no promises for you... BUT, its still FUN... and we can all share in the photos...

We can't wait to see them.
JOIN US!

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