Parenting “kids from hard places” is hard! Nothing that worked for you as a kid is working for the kids whom you’ve brought into your home and they are not responding like your biological kids to your parenting methods. I created a little video below to share about some of the more traditional parenting tools we come into parenting with that may “work” on kids who have not experienced trauma, but are just not cutting it with your sweet, hurt child. Some of the old tools like yelling, time outs, taking away things, reward charts, you name it.. just don’t work and it’s frustrating. I would note that any technique that desires compliance and obedience due to fear over whole brain connection won’t “work” in the long run but that’s another blog post.. :)
Our kid’s brain’s have such a tiny window of tolerance, or zone of what feels safe to them, that many of the old tools are too much or too subtle to make any changes with a child impacted by an attachment or trauma wound. Either the tiniest of remarks sends them into a four-hour explosion or they could care less if you threw away everything in their room including their bed. The feeling of loosing the control that kept them safe or the lack of care for your expectations due to not having a stable attachment in the past, makes sense given their history. However, it is not working in the home you are trying to build on connection! We need new tools that create connection and felt-safety to stay in their window of tolerance.
Yes, a big part of our child’s healing is their individual therapy work that we do building their window of tolerance, responding to relational triggers in the moment with their horse partner, learning to manage energy, and form healthy attachments is essential to helping your goal of having a connected home (See my page on Individual therapy). If we are being honest though, it is very hard even when you know all the connected parenting tools you learn from TBRI (Trust-Based Relational Intervention) and trauma experts- because we get triggered too! When it comes down to it, we know a big part of their healing comes from us. We have to be the co-regulators for them to learn the regulation skills they missed in infancy and the secure attachment they can cling to. If we have our own struggles with calming ourselves and attachment triggers (we all do including me!) then how can we give them what we don’t have?
By having your own therapy sessions, you can feel the internal regulation and mindfulness that the horses naturally help us with. We can also practice learning to increase and lower our energy to gain connection and cooperation. Horses have very similar brains to kids who’ve experienced trauma and we can gain muscle memory for gradually increasing the energy of our request until we get connected cooperation. Trust me, we can experience very similar sensations when our horse isn’t cooperating as we do with our kids! The TBRI levels of response is this very thing of incrementally increasing our request and not using more pressure than needed. It is hard to master! It’s far too easy to slip out of the connected parenting/TBRI framework into yelling etc. Let’s grow our connection muscles- you, me, and the horses! See my contact page to reach out today. For parents with kids who are in the CCS and CLTS programs this very well could be covered under your child’s goals and paid for if your worker adds this to their plan. As well as some Forward Health clients if there is a family goal.
In the video I explain all this and more. Give it a watch and let me know if you have any questions at all!
I have also included a video of my and my horse Jack as I ask him to follow me. I start with intention, then a look, a smooch, waving my arms, and when I get too frustrated (a deep breath) and a rope help me with my energy. Practices like this help me to increase my window of tolerance and when my child is “not listening” I have more emotional space to gradually increase my pressure with her.