A look into Nancy Thomas parenting
I was actually going to put this in another thread that is already going on, but I thought we can have a respectable conversation on how people feel about this specific therapy session.

THere are many aspects to attachment therapy, and I wish I could say that I agree with all of them, but I dont. Here is one that I did have issues with.

SOme will agree with the practice and some will not. Part of the reason I am posting it, is so that new parents, before they may be desperate, can read this with a fresh eye.

pg 178 of dandelion on my pillow:

One of the most powerful sessions, that was a turning point to beths healing.

Beths therapy session had begun by dealing with her dastardly deeds over mother’s day and then quickly shifted when she defiantly stated “I have special powers. I’m not like the other kids. I’m allot more powerful that they are

CJ lovingly pulled her over into her arms smiled and said “well sweetheart if you have special powers then just use those special powers to get up. Go ahead. Let me see your special powers” Beths little body began to wither. She bit, she pinched, she clawed, she kicked, she hissed, she growled, she spit, she cursed and then she fought some more

CJ stayed calm and smiling as she said “come on show me your special powers, where are they?” I was flabbergasted at the amount of energy and fury flying in all directions from such a small child! She was like a wild animal.

The struggle continued for a good forty-five minutes before the little bundle of fury wound down. Her body relaxed, she unclenched her jaw and looked up confused and expectantly. CJ asked gently “so where were your special powers? How come you couldn’t get up?”

beth was 6 yrs old at the time of this session, being held against her will, for 45 mintues. WHich in child life, 45 minutes is alot longer then an adults.

My feeling was, this is more about control then therapy. I would be worried if someone did not fight back that was being held against their will for no reason at all.

NOt to go into any gory details, but think about situations where one is being held against their will. What do they do? It is a human instinct to fight back, and to try to get these kids to 'surrender' I just dont think will keep them that safe.

If the little girl was unsafe to others and herself and NEEDED the restraint, I would have a different opinion, but that was not the case. the girl said she had powers and the therapist went out to prove she didnt.

I also find the therapist mocking her, which is also a sign of emotional abuse.

Beth finally submitted, was defeated, and gave up.

This was one of the practices that I read that really bothered me. To me, i read it as control, not learning to trust.

for those who dont know, This is just one of the practices why professionals are against AT.

How do others feel? Does control equeal trust? Does one really have to do this to have a child trust an adult?
We did alot of this with my younger son. He came to us at age 3 extremely defiant and extremely angry. He's now 9 years old.

He would also turn into a wild animal, and he would rage much longer than 45 minutes before he was done sometimes. He's doing great now, and I wouldn't change a thing.

It serves several purposes:

1.) It does show the child who's in control. My boy is one of those kids where you can't let him win...ever. If you ever let him win then he becomes a raging tyrant. A child who has attachment issues wants to believe that they are all powerful, that they can control all the adults around them. They need to learn that their parents are strong enough that they can't be controlled.

2.) It teaches the child self-control. We would not release my son until he'd regained control of himself. Now he has really good self-control.

3.) It teaches the child that you aren't going to give up on them.

And what's most important is that it WORKS. We went from a little boy who spit on women, was thrown out of three daycares for violent behavior, a child you couldn't take out in public....to a sweet and happy little boy. And I can tell you that I was the one who did most of the holding and he's crazy about me. We are very, very close now.
hi bippette,

I also held my son much longer then 45 mintues due to safty reasons. But it wasnt about contol, it was about keeping him safe and others around him safe.

I am not very clear on your post. Did you restrain your child, just for the sake of 'who is in control' over something that he said to you? Was that the only reason, or was he 'out of control' and that is when you restrained him.

I do think there are other ways to show who is boss in the house, by not restraining them for what it seems, no aparent reason.

As a dad of two special needs kids, my children are respectful now also. For me, when I look at where my children came from, and where they are now, they are 95% better. We never did any kind of 'intrusive therapies', so its always hard for me to wonder if time and new 'non-intrusive' techniques are just as effective.

The things that they would say to us, my older son had a very violent temper and not a minute went by where he didnt call us a horrendous name or destroy the house. We also lived in a 'war zone'

I guess is there others way that a child can 'heal' without the forms of restraints to just show them who is in control?
I guess it depends on how you look at it. All of his tantrums that I can remember resulted from control issues. He's Dx'd as ODD and BiPolar.

I don't think there's ever a "need" to hold a three year old for safety issues. His tantrums were violent and horrible to watch. But I was much, much larger and faster. I was never afraid that he was going to hurt me or hurt himself badly.

Usually we ended up holding him because he would not comply on any level. He'd be told to go to time-out. He refused to go. You'd then carry him to his bed and place him on the bed. He refused to stay in his room. He'd come out of the room and scream curse words, throw things, fall down on the floor kicking and screaming. Soooooo....what do you do with a child in that situation. Ignoring him didn't work. Trying to apply the consequence later when he was calmed back down just resulted in a repeat tantrum. He was waaaayyy too young to reason with.

I wasn't willing to do a pyche hospitalization or RTC with a pre-schooler. I think that would have been far more damaging to his trust and security. But we had to be able to have some way to force him to comply. You simply cannot live with a child when they refuse to comply with anything.

So he would start a control battle that always needed in him not complying with the consequence, which resulted in a rage, which resulted in us holding him until he'd gained control. Then we'd have him go back and go back and serve the consequence, THEN we'd have him go back and perform whatever task had caused the original issue.

So it might be he'd have to stay in his room for 10 minutes, then he'd have to come out and clean up the plate of food he'd winged across the kitchen, and then he'd have to eat the greenbeans that caused the whole thing to begin with.

And I can tell you that Coach and I were the only ones who could "handle" him for years and years. Anyone who was soft or kind with him, he just flat ran over. Once in elementary school we always asked for the strictest, meanest teacher for him.

If an adult couldn't control him, then he didn't respect them. And if he didn't respect them, he sure wasn't going to trust them.

I think your reading the post wrong. what you wrote, is very different. We had to hold our child for the same reasons you wrote.

The difference is the reason you held your child was because he was rageful or going to go into a rage. I call it safty, you call it control, but we are talking about the same thing.

So he would start a control battle that always needed in him not complying with the consequence, which resulted in a rage, which resulted in us holding him until he'd gained control. Then we'd have him go back and go back and serve the consequence, THEN we'd have him go back and perform whatever task had caused the original issue.

To me, that is considered preventive or safty. oh, any kid who throws things, no matter how old, can be a safty reason, some of these little guys have a strong throw, and boy can they bite....lol

Beth, The child in the above post, was not in a rage, or was defiant, she just said she had special powers. Which the therapist restrained her for no other reason then to prove her wrong. lovingly of course.

If your child came to you and said that, would you restrain them. IF your child said "i have a magic wand and I could do magic" does it call for an automatic restraint.

For me, there was no reason to hold this child simple because she said she had magic powers.

He'd be told to go to time-out. He refused to go. You'd then carry him to his bed and place him on the bed. He refused to stay in his room. He'd come out of the room and scream curse words, throw things, fall down on the floor kicking and screaming. Soooooo....what do you do with a child in that situation.

plus, you did the timeout first, then carried into his room, blah blah blah, you tried other non-invasive measures first.
But I think (and am assuming) that she WAS being definant when she said that. And would also assume that those words had been used in conflict with the parents in the past.

I didn't read this as a casual conversation when a child told a therapist "Oh, yeah. I have powers other kids don't have. Gee, itsn't that cool."

As I read this, I was picturing a parent bringing in a child whom they've had continual control battles with. During the course of those battles the kid is yelling at the parent "You can't make me eat green beans. YOU can't stop me from throwing this plate across the floor. I have special powers, and NO ONE is strong enough or powerful enough to make me do ANYTHING."

(That is something my son would have said about age 6!!! What's more, he BELIEVED it.)

So they go to the therapist. The therapist brings it up. When the child again replies that they have super powers, the therapist proves that she does not.

A control battle (and probably a pretty significant one) has been won. The child has been shown without a doubt that she is indeed not all powerful. She might be able to control ALOT of people, but she can't control the therapist, and she can't control her Mom.

That's the way I read that paragraph from Nancy's book. But perhaps I am "coloring it" with my own experiences.
What Bippett described is how we handled things with J. I haven't had to hold him like that in a while now. If he starts to get going on a rage and he can't comply with going outside to have it or gets violent, we now give him the option of calming down on his own or with our help, meaning in a safety hold. But then once it's over, we do like Bippett said and go back through whatever started the whole thing to begin with.

J also 'fears' adults who aren't in control of him. He likes a strict, but kind, teacher who holds him accountable like we do at home. If a teacher feels sorry of him or is wishy-washy with their control in the class, he's nuts.

I do use a lot of Nancy Thomas stuff in my house. But I'll admit, it was very, very hard to remember the velvet lining in the steel box sometimes. If he pushed too many buttons, triggered my own PTSD or I was just having a bad day, I'd often scrap it all and just send him to his room until I was ready to handle him or Andy got home. Nancy Thomas' methods are loving, empathetic control. Honestly, its the same stuff I do with H and M my Biological kids, only it's a natural thing because they were babies when it started if that makes any sense.

We never did any holding therapy with our AT though. Our AT was more about supporting us, helping us find the triggers for J's trauma and working through the issues are they arose. However, J came to us attached to his foster mom. We had to transfer that attachment to us and then deal with the anxious attachment state that he sat in for a very long time because of the disruption.

Hope this makes sense. I'd say more but M's therapist is on her way up the sidewalk.
actually, the therapy session happened to the child after a meltdown on mothers day.

I just fell that certain children who had been adopted have diffucult times around certain days. Mothers day is a loaded one.


i also agree wtih bipette, as we have done that to. I guess the question is, do you restrain a child, just to prove them wrong?

We never did any holding therapy with our AT though.

and that is the point of this post, would you? This includes stong sitting, the two practices that are currently being questioned by professionals.

Holding a child due to their rages, or to prevent the rage, is not holding therapy. Its more 'restraining'.

though I do think even with restraints, it should be the last form of action a parent should take if the child cannot control himself on his own.

bipette, if your child was able to go to his room for a time out on his own, would you 'hold him' or restrain him?

I guess the same question goes for Jen to.

The holding is a form of therpy, I think some might get the holding and restraining confused. Two different things.

holding theapy is done when the child is calm.
I think you keep forgetting that the kids who need this extreme therapy are extremely disturbed. Beth, the child in the original post, was known as the "Child of Rage". HBO did a special on her.

She didn't just walk up to her mother and say "Gee, I have super powers" and run around the house with a pretend cape on. In reality, she probably truly thought she had the power to control her parents. She may have even thought those powers could kill them. If my daughter told me she had "super powers" I would be very concerned. And I would want it delved into in therapy.

Do you allow a child to live this delusion or do you use extreme measures to prove that you are in control? I personally would use extreme measures with my child; otherwise her "super powers" will take over. If that means holding her down in a loving way (which the therapist did) then so be it.

Dad - you are lucky in that your boys were able to accept the love you offered. You could just demonstrate love and compliance and in time they complied somewhat. A child with ODD will never comply. They will fight and fight to the death. So, if we use these extreme techniques when they are young, then, hopefully, once they are adults, they will see that compliance is not a bad thing. Compliance is necessary in this world. Without it we would not be able to keep jobs, stay out of jail, etc. I'm not talking about being submissive, I'm talking about a healthy level of compliance with authority.

Think of a baby. The parents make all decisions for them. The parents decide what the child should eat, wear, do, play with, everything. You say, well they are babies and can't do that for themselves. But we are designed that way so that the baby learns to trust the parent to take care of their needs. Our children didn't have that. They need to learn that as older children. Without learning to trust your parents, you can never have healthy relationships as an adult. So, yes it’s extreme and it looks weird when you do it with an older child. But it’s necessary. My daughter has to learn that I can hold her throughout her rage. That my love is strong. Stronger than her rage. How else can she ever trust me?

I am not one to say that Attachment Therapy is the end all be all. Not at all. Most children with RAD also have other diagnoses and AT can't really help with that. My daughter has RAD, PTSD, bi-polar, possible schizophrenia, and more I'm sure. So, no, AT will not make her healthy. Nothing will ever make her mentally healthy (short of a miracle). But AT helps her deal with her past. And that’s one layer to her issues. Her past is so painful to her that she will not just talk about it. If you sit her down and so, ok, spill it, nothing will come out. But if we hold her and start telling her to remember that things that her birthmom did and we start replaying them, she will get angry and start talking. Yes, we incite the anger, but it also releases the pain. She fights and she rages and she yells and she spills her guts about her pain. She gets it out. Afterwards, she would tell you that she is relieved. And while I am holding her thrashing around, I tell her that I love her and I will continue to love her no matter what she tells.

I guess what I am trying to say, and I probably am not doing a good job at it, is that the children who need this type of help are literally psychopathic. They are not living in the world that we live in; they have no concept of reality. So, what you think would work for them doesn’t. It can’t. You say that AT like this doesn’t work. Well, if you take the most disturbed of the disturbed and try to help them, I think even a low percentage is good. These children would have no help otherwise.

I run a very “Nancy Thomas” type home. No, I don’t do everything she suggests. Some of the things just aren’t a good fit for me. But overall, her ideas are good. My daughter knows that she is safe in our home. While that seems minor, it really isn’t considering her extreme ptsd.

I have met Beth (the one in the original post). I had dinner with her. She is a wonderful woman now. She would tell you that this type of therapy saved her life. So, if you are looking for a success story, there she is.
Is Beth the one who was banging her baby brother's head on the cement outside. When asked why she stopped before she killed him, she replied "Because someone was coming."
Beth is now a healthy young woman and also gives her own account of how this therapy and parenting looked to her at the time and contributes that to her healing.

Strong sitting is merely yoga so have no clue why people have such an issue with it. I've done it myself

My 19 year old would tell you that this type of therapy saved his life and kept him from killing people.

I have been on the recieving end of this type of therapy as it's required before it's used on your children. The rebirthing crap isn't the same thing and no child could possible be injured done the way I was taught to do this.

This was a very, very painful thing to have to do and very painful to watch my kids go through it. So watching people attack it and act as if it's abuse just makes it that much more painful. It is an extreme therapy and not what I'd choose for most kids and didn't use it with all of mine.

As for Nancy Thomas parenting-love, laughter, helping a child feel proud of themselves, helping them find their inner strength to become self assured and self disciplined-don't see why this bothers people. My kids needed the structure. The felt out of control without it. Once they began feeling more safe, the structure lessoned.

The book being quoted contains the child's viewpoint and healing as well as Nancy Thomas' view. To me, hearing the child say it works is very powerful.
what about the people felt that AT messed them up? Some of them are older know, and do speak out how horrible it was.

everything goes back to choice for me. people who want to do yoga, fine. But if someone is making someone do yoga, to gain control of them, then I find its abusive.

I think you keep forgetting that the kids who need this extreme therapy are extremely disturbed. Beth, the child in the original post, was known as the "Child of Rage".

believe me, i dont forget, and that is why i post a different side, to have people realize that these kids our one of our most vulneralbe populations.

even the parents are vulnerable, trying to get help for there kids. I get this, I really do. People do things, anything, in desperate times, but that doesnt mean its a good thing to do.

I'm talking about a healthy level of compliance with authority.

I agree lorraine, but at the same time, by physical forcing control on a child, I dont think it actually is a 'healthy' way for them to be complient. I think something gets lost in the translation.

The book being quoted contains the child's viewpoint and healing as well as Nancy Thomas' view

Well, I wont go that far. Though the book potrays what the child was feeling, its really hard to know exactly. My son is 12 yrs old, and he still interprets things wrong. There are kids who accuse parents of trying to kill them and that is sad, they really feel that is what happened.

Beth was a very hurt child. Its hard to really know what was going on in her head. Her side, more then nancys, seemed very clinical. I dont think most children are in that tuned withh their feelings, never mind a hurt child.
I agree lorraine, but at the same time, by physical forcing control on a child, I dont think it actually is a 'healthy' way for them to be complient. I think something gets lost in the translation

So, would you advocate these children, later to be adults, never knowing how to take "orders" from others? They will not learn on their own.

In answer to your question, I don't know. Holding therapy wasn't something that ever came up in working with J. He wanted to attach to us and was capable of attaching as well. So, I don't know if I would have done it. Likely I would have, had I felt it would have done my son more good than harm. Also, like Lucy said, I would have wanted to undergo it myself before hand so I could know if it was harmful.

As for strong sitting being abusive, I totally disagree. Like Lucy said, it's basically yoga. We don't even call it strong sitting here anymore, rather we just tell J to go sit and find his calm. It's actually in his IEP as something he needs to do if he gets too out of control. He's done it at home, his Master has him meditate at Tang Soo Do and once, after a particularly engaging assembly, in the OT room at his school for a few minutes before returning to class.

As for how long he sits, well thats up to him. If he does it on his own, he sits for as long as he wants too. If I'm sending him it's simple. "16 minutes MY way or 30 minutes YOUR way" He almost always chooses my way now as it actually works to get him calm. His way means he slouches and plays and is defiant about it. 9 out of 10 times he does it his way he's back out of control and back sitting within 5 minutes of getting up.

It's not about controlling J, but about J controlling his own body. We used the strong sitting to teach him that. Because of our successes in that area, but son can tell me when his meds are working well or when he needs to see the doctor about his 'jumpies.' HE lets me know when he needs to take an evening supplement Focalin and knows that if he doesn't he will need to work extra hard at whatever activity we are doing.

For example, he always takes one on test nights for Tang Soo Do and usually for a couple of nights before that so he can really focus on fine tuning his forms before testing. But the night we went to that mall to have our pics with Santa, he opted out of one and said he would just have to work extra hard. And he did. While he never actually strong sat during the hour long wait in line, he did breathing exercises several times and asked for several deep pressure hugs to calm him down.

Hope this answers your questions. Smile

edited to add:

On the holding therapy note, that's not saying we didn't hold J. We did. I did lots of time in the rocking chair with him singing and cuddling and talking softly about how much we love him. Heck, don't tell his friends, but we still do that occasionally. In our case though, J was a cuddler and sought out physical touch from the get go. It was never forced. Even if he didn't want to do it, once I pulled him on my lap he would start to cuddle into me. Part of that was also his sensory disorder. He's a sensory seeker and deep hugs were heaven to him, so he was always in my lap or holding my hand or something. He was 4 when he came but developmentally about age 2. In fact, he reminds me a lot of how M is now at 21mo. Two peas in a pod, I guess. LOL
If forcing a child to do yoga is abuse how about forcing them to do homework, go to school, take out the trash?
All these things are equally good for them. Parents often make decisions for their kids and teach them to do healthy things.

If my son strong sits, he doesn't need meds for his hyperactivity. Since he has issues with his liver, that's important. Should I not make him do it if he doesn't want to? My 16 year old hates school, should I let him quit if he wants to? Of course not.

And a child/adult who has successfully completed attachment therapy IS that in touch with their feelings.
People are very willing to believe those who complain that AT hurt them but when someone says it helped them, thier feelings are questioned-I see this a lot.

You know, weight watchers works for some people, and not for others. Wonder why that is? Does that make it a bad program?

For someone to be successful in AT they have to want something different. That doesn't make the process of going through it any less painful or any easier.

I don't think reading someone's account of it can really give you the real picture. You have to live it to get it.

And most parents who are using AT are heavy researchers, they have to be. If a therapist suggests doing something I find questionable, I tell them so. We then would explore further the reason or drop it and do something different.

If a parenting technique isn't working, it gets dropped and replaced with something more workable with THAT child. Doesn't make the technique bad, just the wrong approach for that situation.

AT and parenting is not and never has been one size fits all.
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