Monday, March 28, 2011

When fear begins to take over. . .

Since Christmas break, Miles has, slowly but surely, become increasingly fearful and unhappy.

The shift is subtle, and sometimes I think I'm nuts, but it is definitely there.

The 'crazy' lying has become more consistent.
The dark, angry face is given to me each morning.
The just-under-the-radar disobeying/sneakiness is becoming a bit more blatant.

The "school honeymoon" is over. The teachers are no longer oozing affection over him, and Miles is upset.

Miles consistently challenges and disobeys all his female teachers. He feels angry with them and he doesn't want to listen. "I want to do what I want to do," he'll tell me. He wants his teacher to be his parent, and he's angry that the teacher doesn't want him to be his child.

Points for honesty. But what to do?

For months now, we've been going over 'Safety Dialogues' to help reinforce the notion that he is Safe here and does not need to be in Control. He can be a Kid (Kids Learn, Play, Obey and Have Fun) without having to be a boss. Mom is the Safe Boss.

I have been telling him that Mom would NEVER, NOT EVER send him to a place each day where he is not safe.

That's been a problem. Because, so much of school makes Miles feel afraid and in danger.

Recess at public elementary school is like scene out of Lord of the Flies.

Life in the orphanage is like real-life Lord of the Flies.

See the unhealthy connection?

Recess sparks a deep, dark fear in Miles. A fear to be In Control. A fear that if he is not In Control, he is In Danger.

At home, we'll talk about feelings, and he shares with me that it makes him "really angry" when his classmates won't listen to him, so he yells to make himself heard.

No one listened to him in Haiti. He was the quiet, sneaky child with an infamous pout.

He has a rep as a playground bully. He is constantly yelling at kids. Miles is a big little boy with an angry face and a BIG voice, so this does not go over well with the recess monitors. He yells at the kids to Shut Up. He yells at them that he Won't Be Their Friend. He yells at them You Baby! He yells at the recess monitors to Give Another Chance! He is constantly put in time-outs or in full-fledged lost recess.

He feels angry and rejected.

We talk a lot about the fact that kids don't like being yelled at. Miles himself doesn't feel good when someone yells at him. So if he wants to play with the other kids, and make friends, he has to be nice. The Golden Rule.

Well, the Golden Rule pisses this kid off. The Natural Consequence of not following the Golden Rule makes him feel like Nobody.

And feeling like Nobody makes him feel scared.

Which turns his Control switch to "On."

Which manifests itself at home in a litany of behaviors. Which interrupt healthy bonding.

I really am not sure what to do here. If anyone has any advice or feedback, book suggestions, etc. I'd greatly appreciate it. Because I'm in a trench here, and I'm looking for a way back to solid footing.


Nobody said...

It's just a long, uphill battle. We saw so much of this with our girls, and over time I could see that some situations made it HUGE, and others brought it out some, and others only a little bit. And so you try and work around what you know. But there's the time thing too. Over long, long stretches of time, things have gotten better, and the fear lets up some. I know it's not what you want to hear, but time may help a great deal.

We are also using a very small private school, as it is less triggering than the lord of the flies public school arena. In the beginning, even the tiny private school didn't work. So we homeschooled, bless my crazy little heart.

Kathleen Benckendorf said...

Friend me on FB (if we're not already - can't remember and can't access FB right now) and email me or message me. Might have an idea for you. Gotta run now, tho - and I'm afraid I'll forget to contact you later!

Also, take a look at my site - might be some other resources there you haven't run across yet.


Fleeting Promises said...

Is it possible for the school (via IEP maybe) to eliminate Miles' recess? Maybe make him a lunchroom helper or something during that time where he feels like he's helping, so he's on board too, but eliminating the chaos of recess may help.
Homeschooling isn't an option, as you've said in the past, but somethinng to think about, even if temporary to get a better grasp on his feelings of safety.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

Dunno. If you can get any idea's on the 'must control every facet of everyone else's life even their breathing', let me know. I have been dealing with the same control issue for almost 4 years. Sigh.

ManyBlessings said...

This book is amazing,

Wish I would have had it 4 years ago. Seriously. The best book ever written on international adoption.

The idea of "no recess" seems like a positive one too. But if your little man is like mine, he needs the physical exertion. Maybe something in the gym? I don't know. Thinking outloud. ;)