Acting on our therapist's advice helped our entire family.
My daughter spent an entire week in the bathroom (except for school and church) rather than shifting. She actually wrote essays about how she liked being in the bathroom because she didn’t have to do any chores, or deal with her annoying brothers. Saddest of all, she said she was glad to be in the bathroom because she didn’t have to face not having any friends.
Our therapist said Kaylyn had forgotten what she was missing. She directed my husband and me to spend time with Kaylyn in the bathroom playing cards, telling her how much we missed her at dinner, and even giving her candy from time to time just because we love her. Then, after a sweet half an hour or so in the bathroom together, I’d tell her, “I love you, but the other kids need me so I have to leave now. I sure will be happy when you choose to be with us again. We miss you.”
I’m not saying it was easy to do when Kaylyn was being so yucky with her attitude, but we did it. It took only a day and a half before she was ready to shift. I checked in on her an hour or so after she got home from school and the mood surrounding her was different. When I opened the door she immediately got to her feet, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “Mom, I’m really sorry I’ve been so yucky.”
You know how you can feel when your child is being sincere and when they’re not? This was completely sincere. I gave her a chance to write an essay about her feelings now that she had shifted, and it was real. She was connected to her feelings and able to express them appropriately. That gave her the chance to do a chore “fast, snappy, and right the first time.” She did a bang-up job vacuuming and earned a yummy dinner. That night we spent time together as a family, and she was able to play Playstation with her brothers.
I’m so grateful for a therapist who knows what she’s doing. No matter how stuck Kaylyn gets, our therapist has always helped us get her unstuck, and has taught us creative parenting in the process. I think about the eight years we spent spinning our wheels with the wrong types of therapists who didn’t understand Reactive Attachment Disorder. I feel for others in our situation who don’t have access to such a tremendous therapist. The main reason I put so much detail in my posts about what our therapist guides us to do is to share the process with others who may be able to benefit from it. None of us can do this alone.
Photo credit: www.youmatter.suicidepreventionlifeline.org