This past week my hubby and I went to a very short workshop done by Karyn Purvis. If you ever have the opportunity to hear her speak, I would really encourage you to go!!
I read her book, The Connected Child, about a year ago, and it was great. I've also seen a few of her videos that are available online, but had never seen her in person. When this opportunity came up, I really wanted to make it work! It was a two hour drive from us, but in the same city where both my parents and my in-laws live, so my parents were able to watch the boys for us while we went.
When Karyn finished, I looked at the time, hardly believing it could be over! We are really hoping to go to one of her two-day conferences coming up so that we can hear more. I'm also planning to watch more of her videos.
Of course, a lot of attachment/adoption trauma information is geared toward older children--not toddlers, so some things will not be relevant or will have to be adapted a bit to work for our little N.
Karyn shared how when she works with kids she likes to bring a big bucket of bubble gum with her. When the child asks nicely and with good eye contact, she cheerfully gives them a piece of bubble gum. If they ask nicely and with good eye contact for two pieces of bubble gum, she gives them two pieces, and so on.
This helps with multiple things, including teaching the child how to ask politely, making good eye contact, and allows you to say yes to them multiple times. Too often, children who have experienced neglect/trauma have heard "No" when they should have been hearing "Yes".
With a typical newborn, he will cry and Mom will say, "Yes! I will change your poopy diaper" or "Yes! I will feed you", "Yes! I will rock you to sleep", and so on numerous times each day. Many children with attachment disorders didn't have that type of interaction as babies, and they still need it now.
As Karyn spoke about this I began wondering if we could adapt this to work for N. Being only two, and having difficulty chewing anyway, it's obvious that we can't give him bubble gum!
So as hubby and I sat eating dessert together after the conference talking over things, we decided to try either Smarties or fruit snacks or something that he could easily chew, and that would be very small still so he wasn't getting tons of candy.
The next day was a Very Bad Day for N. He was throwing fits constantly, he was mad at everything we tried to do, he didn't nap long enough, and I was worn out. We got home from my parents' house (a two hour drive home) and I knew N would need a snack.
This is how our conversation went:
Me: "N, would you like a snack?"
Me: "Would you like a cereal bar or some fruit?"
N: "No! Snack!"
Me: "Yes, you can have a snack. Would you like a cereal bar?"
Me: "How about some fruit?"
N: "No!" followed by screams.
Me: "Ok, we're going to go play in the living room and once you're calmed down will get something to eat."
We went back and forth from the living room to the kitchen several times, before N finally asked nicely for some tortilla chips, which I happily gave him. I also gave him the cereal bar in the hopes he would eat it since tortilla chips wouldn't be very filling.
I walked away to take a short break, but N immediately started crying. I quickly realized that my taking a short break at that time wasn't going to work out, and went and sat with N. We fed each other tortilla chips and we giggled. Then I went to the cupboard where I was pretty sure we had a couple packages of Smarties. I brought two packages to the table and set them next to me, away from N.
He looked at them very curiously and asked,
I said, "Yes, those are Smarties. Would you like one?"
He smiled and nodded.
I said, "Ok! You can have one! You just need to ask Mommy nicely. Say, 'Mommy--Smarties please?'"
He asked, he received. He giggled. :)
We did this until there was about half a package of Smarties left and he said he was all done. The rest of the afternoon he was a different child. He played happily, he talked and laughed, it was amazing.
We got a big bag of Smarties at the store. We were ready.
So this morning after he started melting down about everything, we did the same thing. And once again he was a completely different child afterward. So amazing.
I am now convinced that Smarties have magical powers.