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  • Megan Regan

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THERAPEUTIC PARENTING

Updated: Apr 19, 2020

Well that's not just kids being kids...



Written November 25, 2019

In sharing our struggles in regards to our two adopted children, I often get the comment from well meaning sympathizers, "Well that's just kids being kids." It can be frustrating to hear because I can assure you what we're dealing with is not just "kids being kids." I too was once deluded into believing that love was enough and that once settled in we could parent our two new ones the same way we do our biological children (with maybe some tweaks here and there.)


But our experience has shown me that children with trauma filled starts come with a cornucopia of issues that must be handled in distinct ways. And with educating ourselves, I feel like we're only just beginning to peel away the layers of these cornucopial onions we call Lilly and Marcus. And just like with real onions, there will be tears along the way. But peel away we do. It's what these babies deserve and what our family needs to do in order to survive.

So here's what we've been working on with these layers we're peeling: therapeutic parenting. Nothing has been as helpful to me in navigating how to do this thing called adoptive parenting more than knowing how trauma physically affects the brain and how the brain in turn processes everything. So here we are....

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF THERAPEUTIC PARENTING... Beginning of the Episode (See picture below): He's totally disregulated--the amygdala part of the brain is activated which puts him in a fight, flight, freeze pattern. (And by the way for some context, this was all over me telling him to keep his bunch of grapes over his plate so they wouldn't fall on the floor.)

Episode is resolved (See picture at top of post): We've co-regulated our pre-frontal cortexes. Which basically means his brain is being trained to be calm in high stress situations by watching my brain's reaction to a stressful situation. This turns off his fight, flight, and freeze response and allows higher level thinking to once again commence.

There's a whole messy process between these two pictures that basically amounts to me completely keeping my cool, trying to name his emotional experiences for him, and keeping behavioral expectations and boundaries in place... all while listening to him screaming and making demands of me. It's exhausting...

So when I hear the comment, "well that's kids for you" I try not cringe and understand that people just don't know and that's not their fault. So here I am to show our reality to you...

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