Alright, honesty time, I wasn't able to continue with it! UGH! For the past couple of days, after I have told Abbie, "Alright, school's done, go play," I have felt upset and she has seemed happy, as if she won. That's not the goal! The goal is to remove control, which usually will upset a kid with RAD, not bring them pleasure. It is not that I WANT to make her miserable. I just have learned through experience that when you successfully remove the battle there is a reaction, a sign that you are getting to the heart of the matter--and literally, the child's heart. Abbie's skipping away gleefully to play, having not done school did not seem to be therapeutic, but a victory for her in her mind. I could almost hear her thinking, "Well, I outlasted her!".
So, I stewed about it all evening and prayed about it a lot this morning and asked God for wisdom. I DO still think I need to take away the battle and just shut the book and end school for the day. But the no consequence thing? I just don't feel settled. I feel like it is NOT going to help our relationship because it causes me to be angry that she seems so smug that she got away with something. I have to also wonder if it is actually hurting our relationship because I know that if she thinks she won, she must be smarter than me and I am not a strong-enough person to attach to! Could I actually be sabotaging her trust of my ability to parent her by letting her get away with something? Hmmmm . . . I don't know the answer to that.
As I was praying this morning, I was reminded that in every situation we have encountered with Abbie in which there was a battle, we won because we DID battle her, sometimes by taking control away, sometimes through logical consequences, and sometimes through discipline. So, why should this be any different? If she wins (doesn't have to do school, if indeed this is what it is about) will that not only strengthen her un-broken will? (I am reminded again: Broken spirit, un-broken will) This is an area of control. I have to take control away (stopping school) but then showing her that she cannot get away with it. However, the part that I am unsure of is that if she knows that there are consequences she will do school wrong on purpose to gain the negative consequences and lose the rewards! Do I change up the consequences, making them unpredictable?
All I know is that it left me a tired, irritated mess at the end of the day, feeling like I hadn't taken away control but GIVEN it to her. She was satisfied with not having to do school and getting to do what she wanted. In the past, when I tried the same tactic, she would become angry when I took control away in a similar fashion.
In addition to all this, Cameron and I never want to give Abbie the impression that her sin is okay. As an adult, she can't just not do something and get away with it! I would also never let my biological children get away with this behavior, so I need to be careful what message I am sending.
However, I have to also ask myself if maybe it is MY issue that I just can't let it go; that I can't just let Abbie not do school. Is it MY pride that has been wounded because I feel like I lost, that I am giving up and giving in? If it is my sin, and God does want me to just let it go, and revert back to yesterday's plan, I know He will make it clear.
See? There is just no set formula. It is difficult to predict what will at the same time remove the battle, remove control, facilitate the attachment process, show love and cause a child to trust instead of hold you in contempt because they bested you and won! What a balance!
Here is one thing that I recently learned (one of those things that I think I should have known better) that HAS helped:
When Abbie is in rebellion, I validate her emotions and empathize with her, but then still hold her accountable. For example, Abbie was disobedient this morning and had a consequence. So, I said, "I can tell that you are really angry. You know what, I would be angry, too, if I had to do X (as a result of her disobedience). However, the fact is that you CHOSE to do X and you KNEW what the consequence was." By doing this, I showed that I was not the enemy, but cared for and understood her and knew what she was feeling. I also gave a name to her feeling, something that I am sure she is not able to do because I don't think she knows most of the time WHAT she is feeling and why. I also showed her that I was on her side fighting sin. It really worked to pull her out of that spiral of rebellion and turn her day around! It also helps to say, "I know you are angry because of what you have been through! I would be angry, too! However, you are not allowed to do school wrong on purpose. It is not me with whom you are angry! You can come to me, instead of fighting me, and you can tell me all about how you are angry. I want to help you and I am on your side." It SO helps me to have the "script" to say in those tense moments!
Pressing onward . . .
In Christ, Laura