How to Make the Difficult Paradigm Shifts
for Parenting Kids with Trauma, with Karen Doyle Buckwalter

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I’m super excited to have today with me
Karen Doyle Buckwalter who is first off

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a dear dear friend and I it’s so hard
for me to sort of in-capsule

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describing who Karen is because she’s so
many things to me personally but Karen

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is the best way I can describe it is
she’s a national leader in the world of

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treatment for attachment and complex
trauma she is a speaker nationally on

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the subject I’ve had the honor of seeing
her speak nationally several times she

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is brilliant about the neurology and
behavior of children with complex trauma

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related needs I have learned something
new and amazing every single time I’ve

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seen her speak
she is now an author with a couple of

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books out one of which is the
groundbreaking raising the challenging

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child which I recommend for all the
parents that I work with, and she has

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a wonderful podcast out there called
attachment theory in action which also

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lots of the parents I work with already
listen to and I encourage them to

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continue to do so it’s amazing Karen is
again one of my mentors I’m so happy to

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be having this important conversation
today what we are gonna be talking about

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today is really special to me because
it’s what it’s kind of the core of what

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I talk about all the time which is
really the sort of process of

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transforming as a parent I know for me
when I when my kids first came to me I

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really thought I was ready I really
thought I was prepared for parenting

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children who had been through some
things and I found out pretty quickly

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that I was not prepared at all and what
was we

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really struggled and our family nearly
fell apart before we learned some really

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important things and made some paradigm
shifts and then after making those

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paradigm shifts we struggled some more
to actually implement the things that we

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were learning and so we are going to be
talking today about transforming your

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parenting to meet the needs of children
with specialized needs because of what

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they experienced early in life so Karen
I’m so glad to have you and if you want

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to talk a little bit about your career
that would be a really great start okay

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okay great well I’m thrilled to be here
with you Tif and I feel like I’ve

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learned so much from you as well
and you know I’m always especially

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excited when I’m able to interact with
or do a training with or write an

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article with a foster adoptive parent
someone who’s been in the trenches

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parenting the kids that many of us work
with because I feel like that really

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role models the importance of the
therapist-parent partnership that you

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know we know this work can’t be okay
parent you drop the child off for

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therapy and I’ll go take the child back
to the therapy room and do some secret

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confidential thing that you can’t know
about that it just it can’t work like

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that we have to be in partnership and
you know of course there are occasions

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especially with older kids where we do
have to honor the privacy around some

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issues but in general you know our
practices working hand in hand in a

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partnership with with parents and
children I always like to say in the

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work that I do my my client is the
relationship it’s not the child it’s not

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the parent my client is the relationship
and so I think that’s really important

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in terms of my background I
have been at Chaddock now for over 25 years

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and, i’ll tell you I came there and I was trained
in non-directed play therapy a model

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developed by the Gurney’s play
therapists out there would be familiar

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with that I don’t know if parents would
be but anyway it was called non-directed

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play therapy and I came to Chaddock and I
got a job in treatment foster care and I

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was trying to do non-directive play
therapy with the kids that you know I’m

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immediately assigned all of these kids
that are in treatment foster care which

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is really was really kind of we don’t
want to use residential so much so we’ll

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put all these kids in foster homes and
see if you know if we can maintain them

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there instead I was not having success
at all with with non-directed play

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therapy with those kids the sessions
were completely out of control the kids

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were like running out of the room the
kids were you know if I had sand they

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were dumping the sand everywhere I had
what we call in play therapy protection

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aggression toys and they would take like
the aggressive toys and come at my neck

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with a rubber knife I mean it was all of
this stuff that I was like what is going

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on here like I I don’t know what the
theme here is it’s the theme is this

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isn’t working that was the theme okay
and so then that’s when I started

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reading a lot about attachment about
trauma and I fortunately I was in

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Illinois so I stumbled upon the Theraplay Institute and that was my first

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exposure to a very different way of
looking at these children and they said

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in my first Theraplay training the
parents are your co-therapists so they

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immediately really elevated the role of
parents from where I had I had been

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communicating a little bit with the
parents before and after the session and

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our foster parents had to write logs
about what was happening that happened

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in varying degrees you can imagine you
know

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when you’re caring for these kids tell
you to write a log about it you know

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might work some days and not other days
so that was sort of my opening to this

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whole other world and another way of
doing work so that’s where it all

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started and I think that is that is such
a beautiful like that is one of the

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things that makes your work so special
as a parent there are my experience as a

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parent has been with my kids and and it
was not what I expected I didn’t expect

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when we when our kids came to us – I
expected that therapy would be we would

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take our kids to therapy they would go
to therapy they would get therapy and

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then we would go home and we wouldn’t be
super involved in that process but we

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quickly learned through our kids and how
things worked with our kids that we

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needed to be very very involved and
so I’m so grateful for your work and the

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way that therapists like you work that
partnership with parents now I know is

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absolutely essential because for my kids
there was no way that therapy could be

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effective if we weren’t working in
partnership and I think that’s so such a

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great point that you make yeah and I
think you know the reality is when there

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are significant attachment wounds and
complex trauma that children are going

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to heal within the context of the
parent-child relationship and so really

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I think there are some therapies that
can work in that more traditional way

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you know you go see a therapist for 50
minutes and you know that you have

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individual therapy and however in this
kind of work where there’s been

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particularly relational trauma it really
needs to the kids need to find healing

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the context of the parent-child
relationship and other relationships too –

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but prioritizing the parent-child
relationship 50 minutes a week is really

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I mean I I don’t want to diminish what
many of us do as therapists but frankly

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it’s a drop in the bucket compared to
the 24/7 care of these children that

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that parents are providing so you know
if you have one approach in therapy and

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a different approach you know all the
rest of the hours of the week and

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there’s not the ability to work hand in
hand with each other

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if the therapy’s not gonna progress
right and that’s that’s what’s such a

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great and that’s one of the things that
always struck me when I saw you speak

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early on before we became friends and
before we started doing some special

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things together which I thought was so I
mean that which I’m so glad that we’ve

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gotten to do some great yes that it
struck me that you had this deep

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appreciation for parents and not only
for the parent-child relationship but

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for what parents were experiencing
in trying to connect with their children

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and trying to bring their children to
healing yeah yeah and I think you know

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whenever you’re trying to learn
something new I think that sometimes you

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can go to extreme like the pendulum you
know can go too far and just sharing a

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little bit of my journey what happened I
was well trained also as a family

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systems therapist and looking at the
entire family system the whole idea of

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one person’s behavior changes
everybody’s behavior has to change

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because the family is interdependent and
so I had a lot of training in family

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systems so as I began to be exposed –
now this was a long time ago this is

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when there was not a lot of information
out there and this was like then the

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early late mid 1990s
there wasn’t as much information and so

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when I was starting to read about this
group of children who were often in the

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foster care system and having multiple
placements or maybe adopted out of

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orphanage care I started reading that
these children have reactive attachment

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disorder and that you can’t look at the
children in a traditional family systems

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way because the difficulties that
they are having did not develop in the

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current family system they’re living in
so you know they’re bringing this whole

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set of problems that developed elsewhere
into the family system and so you need

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to not look at this through a family
systems lens and there were even things

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that were saying like how do if the
therapist tries to have you evaluate

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your behavior as a parent then they
don’t understand rad or you know they

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they they are maybe aligning with the
child and not understanding so I feel

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like I really for a number of years kind
of threw away that not threw it away but

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put it more in the back of my mind
because I didn’t want to be that

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therapist that doesn’t understand you
know what parents are going through that

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these children are presenting in a
unique way that did not develop in the

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family system but then but later what I
came to realize is just because the

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difficulties didn’t develop in the
current family system doesn’t mean there

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aren’t certain things in the current
family system that are perpetuating or

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even exacerbating the difficulties so
that’s a very different thing right yes

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I’m so see I learned something even
today already we haven’t even been talking long

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Yes that’s such a great point that’s
such a great point yes

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parents can feel blamed when someone
says that so I think that you know it’s

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really important how you go about I
think that you have to have enough of a

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relationship with with a parent to begin
to dialogue about some of that in a very

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compassionate way because many parents
have been blamed for their children’s

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difficulties and are very you know by
people that really are not aware of some

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of the unique challenges children who
had a lot of trauma what they present

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sure I think there’s that you know having
that working partnership but I also

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think what I found with parents
in terms of your comment about changing

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there seems to be as time went on
someone like okay so I need some

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different techniques to work with the
children directly okay I need some

0:14:21.630,0:14:25.800
different ways of thinking about this
okay now I need to like involve

0:14:25.800,0:14:31.829
caregivers and parents more I will add
to that also many people who identify as

0:14:31.829,0:14:37.649
child or play therapist have very little
experience working with adults and even

0:14:37.649,0:14:42.660
though you’re working with them around
parenting it is kind of therapy for the

0:14:42.660,0:14:50.700
grown up too a whole learning curve for
people who’ve never really dealt with

0:14:50.700,0:14:56.810
adults and therapy other than an update
about you know something with the child

0:14:56.810,0:15:02.880
so then it’s like okay incorporating
parents and figuring that out and how to

0:15:02.880,0:15:10.529
work with them and I pretty quickly kind
of found that there seem to be these

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three groups of parents there were there
were parents that were like oh my gosh

0:15:14.850,0:15:21.720
yes this makes so much sense oh my gosh
I can see why some of these things would

0:15:21.720,0:15:28.260
work and and other things would not and
they would start implementing these

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things
very quickly and be able to be kind of

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consistent with some of it and it makes
sense and there are on board and I call

0:15:37.980,0:15:40.769
those people the people that you give
them some information and they’re off to

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the races you know it’s not that
everything goes fine after that or

0:15:45.119,0:15:49.170
anything but with some real guidance and
some real coaching they’re really able

0:15:49.170,0:15:54.679
to start making that paradigm shift
trying to implement some of these things

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and so that was like one group okay
that’s the group that therapist really

0:16:00.240,0:16:13.970
like! you know, i make suggestions you do them we
all feel great we like we like all okay

0:16:13.970,0:16:19.829
there’s this new group of people who
they say all of those same things

0:16:19.829,0:16:23.429
they’re like oh my gosh I’m so glad I
found you oh this makes so much sense

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I’m reading the I’m reading this book
I’m listening to this podcast – but

0:16:29.569,0:16:36.720
they’re unable to actually change their
behaviors towards the child and they’re

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like so committed and they’re so sincere
and and yet and they even might think

0:16:44.339,0:16:48.929
they’re they’re implementing what you
suggest but because I work a lot with

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video and work a lot in homes I often
see like parents that think they’re

0:16:55.559,0:17:03.290
doing something but when I see I’m like
you know I don’t think that’s what i meant

0:17:04.189,0:17:10.559
okay then there’s this other group of
people where it’s hard to get either one

0:17:10.559,0:17:15.510
like there there’s a real challenge to
get them to buy into these ideas they

0:17:15.510,0:17:20.279
may feel like they’re it’s being too
soft on the kids it’s letting the kids

0:17:20.279,0:17:27.659
get away with things or you know
whatever they just don’t you have to

0:17:27.659,0:17:33.240
work really hard for them to even do
this philosophical shift let alone

0:17:33.240,0:17:40.169
implement it like they’re just kind of
not buying in from the get-go and the

0:17:40.169,0:17:45.030
common denominator
with all of these people was they really

0:17:45.030,0:17:51.270
are like great people great parents
really wanting to do it the right way

0:17:51.270,0:17:57.180
you know they’re – giving
resources financial resources giving

0:17:57.180,0:18:02.550
their time you know trying to read
things and so I really started to become

0:18:02.550,0:18:11.820
I would say obsessed with what is going
on here like all of these people they

0:18:11.820,0:18:17.910
are committed to these kids they they
want to do well with them they want to

0:18:17.910,0:18:25.020
help them but they’re showing up they’re
reading stuff but why are some you know

0:18:25.020,0:18:32.550
really able to implement a lot of this
and others it’s just like

0:18:32.550,0:18:39.630
they can give it endorsement verbally to
you but when it comes to really being

0:18:39.630,0:18:44.460
able to do it differently with their
child they can’t and then that third

0:18:44.460,0:18:49.230
group you don’t want to hear anything I
had to say why are you here like what’s

0:18:49.230,0:19:02.460
going on here okay so in my quest to
really understand this I mean I of

0:19:02.460,0:19:08.820
course there’s a variety factors but I
feel like one of the main factors in the

0:19:08.820,0:19:14.250
one that I landed on and the one I think
a lot of the research points to is how

0:19:14.250,0:19:19.740
you will parent the greatest predictor
of how you will parent is how you

0:19:19.740,0:19:25.830
yourself were parented and so I think
now that can manifest in a lot of

0:19:25.830,0:19:30.870
different ways like someone could say
I’m nothing like my parents and I would

0:19:30.870,0:19:38.850
never want to be anything like them so
that doesn’t manifest with being just

0:19:38.850,0:19:43.370
like their parents but it manifests with
them trying so hard not to be like them

0:19:43.370,0:19:47.040
but they’re really not responding to
what’s directly in front of them that

0:19:47.040,0:19:54.720
the child needs so so somehow the
parents own history is like playing in

0:19:54.720,0:20:00.090
the background you know Selma Fraiberg’s famous comment about how ghosts

0:20:00.090,0:20:04.620
from our own history invade the nursery
like as soon as the baby’s born there

0:20:04.620,0:20:07.740
are these ghosts from our own
relationship that are invading the

0:20:07.740,0:20:13.950
nursery and really almost controlling
unconsciously parents aren’t aware of

0:20:13.950,0:20:20.130
this but unconsciously controlling what
the parent does and so that’s where I

0:20:20.130,0:20:25.500
came to believe that these parents are
genuine and they do want to do this but

0:20:25.500,0:20:29.220
in the heat of the moment something
happens yes they get stressed and they

0:20:29.220,0:20:32.910
go into back brain and all of that but
there’s often more to it than that

0:20:32.910,0:20:37.590
because everyone’s triggers are
different what makes you go into back

0:20:37.590,0:20:45.720
brain is related often to your own
history and so Tif, you know working with

0:20:45.720,0:20:49.360
so many
parents, sometimes I would ask a parent

0:20:49.360,0:20:54.680
what like really bothers you about this
kid like because we I kind of want to

0:20:54.680,0:20:58.580
know what the parents buttons are you
know what causes them to become really

0:20:58.580,0:21:03.620
reactive and you know this is a kid
that’s like hitting people and smearing

0:21:03.620,0:21:08.220
poop on the wall and blow it out of
school and so I’m all ready to hear one

0:21:08.260,0:21:11.660
of these things and the parents will say
“their table manners”

0:21:11.820,0:21:23.560
so, I’m thinking, in the grand scheme of things… but then… so first of all

0:21:23.580,0:21:29.900
first lesson of that is it’s good to ask
yes we can we have bias about what

0:21:29.900,0:21:34.760
upsets the parent that we just assume
okay but the second thing was you know

0:21:34.760,0:21:39.500
so sometimes then I deconstruct that and
there’s there’s something about the

0:21:39.500,0:21:43.760
parents own history where where manners were such a high value and you

0:21:43.760,0:21:48.620
were basically like a very bad child you
know if you didn’t have good table

0:21:48.620,0:21:55.820
manners or they their parents valued
that so so highly or they were even

0:21:55.820,0:22:01.940
shamed or scolded about table I mean it
could be a number of things but the

0:22:01.940,0:22:06.590
overall point I’m trying to get you here
is I think we need to begin to be able

0:22:06.590,0:22:13.400
to talk with parents in a deep way about
triggers and really identified in a deep

0:22:13.400,0:22:20.870
way what those are otherwise we start
kind of giving these great suggestions

0:22:20.870,0:22:25.730
that seem to work with lots of kids and
the parents mysteriously can’t do any of

0:22:25.730,0:22:32.210
it right right
and I think that you make I mean I think

0:22:32.210,0:22:36.200
that that is such a great point because
as you were talking about it I was

0:22:36.200,0:22:41.390
thinking you know I tell this story all
the time and I’ve said it you know as

0:22:41.390,0:22:45.860
we’ve been recording these I’ve talked
about my daughter dragging her hands

0:22:45.860,0:22:52.850
along the wall and that that behavior
was I was for certain I was for certain

0:22:52.850,0:22:59.570
she was intentionally trying to drive me
out of my mind like that behavior was I

0:22:59.570,0:23:04.230
was ready to
died on the hill of that behavior I have

0:23:04.230,0:23:08.240
no idea why because it was such a small
thing

0:23:08.240,0:23:15.720
you know and it was it was a trigger for
me it actually was a trigger for me now

0:23:15.720,0:23:24.570
thinking back because in my house
growing up my stepdad was really

0:23:24.570,0:23:32.370
particular about that actually he was
you know and and so we didn’t do that

0:23:32.370,0:23:38.010
you know so anyway that it’s so
interesting how and I think that it’s

0:23:38.010,0:23:45.330
true that the thing about triggers and I
think the other thing is having

0:23:45.330,0:23:55.410
conversations about triggers yes and
what for me as a parent learning what to

0:23:55.410,0:24:04.340
do once I was triggered right right yeah
yeah and I think just when you can speak

0:24:04.340,0:24:13.710
when and what we might call that is
making the unconscious conscious so when

0:24:13.710,0:24:19.860
you have these unconscious things going
on they just like it’s like somebody has

0:24:19.860,0:24:24.330
the keys to your car and are just
driving it where at least if you’re kind

0:24:24.330,0:24:30.929
of aware of what that relates to and I
mean it’s really trauma in a way because

0:24:30.929,0:24:35.460
trauma is not being stuck in the past
it’s not being able to be in the present

0:24:35.460,0:24:41.070
and then instead for you you know in
that example it was hard to separate you

0:24:41.070,0:24:44.880
know those feelings from the past –
this is a different thing and this is a

0:24:44.880,0:24:50.220
different kid and really in the grand
scheme of things this is – right? you

0:24:50.220,0:24:56.340
know and so you know some people say
insight is underrated but I think around

0:24:56.340,0:25:02.040
these issues that’s not true I mean the
more you understand your own history and

0:25:02.040,0:25:06.059
you know Dan Siegel talks about this
a lot and a book parenting from the

0:25:06.059,0:25:12.930
inside out the more you understand your
own history the more regulated

0:25:12.930,0:25:17.670
you can stay with your own kids just to
begin with and I know you’re saying we

0:25:17.670,0:25:22.740
want to talk about you know what happens
if you become dysregulated but you

0:25:22.740,0:25:29.640
know and I think I do want to point out
one thing that I think because children

0:25:29.640,0:25:34.620
who’ve been harmed in relationships
reject relationships and I think that

0:25:34.620,0:25:43.110
many parents have a history of rejection
by a parent by a peer group by whoever

0:25:43.110,0:25:51.540
like who doesn’t have some history of
rejection so that when these children

0:25:51.540,0:25:58.080
are rejecting of you over an over day-in –
and you know it triggers like every

0:25:58.080,0:26:08.150
rejection you’ve ever had so I do think
you know that’s another example of how

0:26:08.629,0:26:17.250
recognizing this makes me feel like all
the stuff my dad did to me right so

0:26:17.250,0:26:22.769
that’s a whole other load of stuff that
this kids really not doing but this kids

0:26:22.769,0:26:30.600
getting the reaction and the feelings
from all of that and so starting to

0:26:30.600,0:26:35.039
begin to deconstruct you know where is
some of that coming from like like a lot

0:26:35.039,0:26:39.509
of this is it’s triggered by the child
but it’s really not coming from the

0:26:39.509,0:26:49.590
child right right and I think too isn’t
part of it is part of it when with

0:26:49.590,0:26:58.019
parenting kids with a trauma
history we tend to like our current

0:26:58.019,0:27:04.799
culture says when children behave in a
way that’s uncomfortable to us we meet

0:27:04.799,0:27:10.769
that behavior we our response is
supposed to be as parents our response

0:27:10.769,0:27:17.730
is supposed to be make the child as
uncomfortable as that behavior is making

0:27:17.730,0:27:24.570
us yes right and doing that with our
kids who have attachment and trauma

0:27:24.570,0:27:31.080
history or trauma related attachment
and trauma related needs for our kids they aren’t

0:27:31.080,0:27:36.450
they aren’t hearing and receiving oh my
behavior is uncomfortable they’re

0:27:36.450,0:27:42.120
hearing or you’re rejecting my behavior
you’re rejecting me is what they hear

0:27:42.120,0:27:47.299
right yes which is actually the same
thing the parent may be hearing right

0:27:47.299,0:27:54.659
right and that’s the point that you’re
making which i think is so absolutely

0:27:54.659,0:27:59.700
true now that I do work more with
parents and and I understand my own

0:27:59.700,0:28:06.450
reaction and responses with my kids I
mean now my daughter is an adult and I

0:28:06.450,0:28:14.370
can tell you sometimes as an adult when
as a young adult when when she – you

0:28:14.370,0:28:22.410
you know when we have behavior that
well honesty has always been a

0:28:22.410,0:28:31.110
behavior that we’ve had you know that we
struggled with and now as a young adult

0:28:31.110,0:28:38.700
when that behavior comes up it’s still
hard and I still feel myself going the

0:28:38.700,0:28:46.740
the narrative that sometimes pops up for
me is when have I ever communicated to

0:28:46.740,0:28:51.900
you that I would not support you no
matter what the truth was right that’s

0:28:51.900,0:28:58.260
the that’s the thing that comes up in my
head and I have to really watch myself

0:28:58.260,0:29:03.900
and reframe that for myself and say when
she does that it’s not about me it’s

0:29:03.900,0:29:11.280
about her right right you know and Tif, even
though I’m such a proponent of

0:29:11.280,0:29:15.270
attachment theory and the
intergenerational transmission

0:29:15.270,0:29:18.760
of these things

0:29:18.880,0:29:23.710
parenting is not everything and whether
you have kids who’ve had trauma, your

0:29:23.710,0:29:27.760
biological kids,
it’s very there’s also this – this myth

0:29:27.760,0:29:32.620
out there that if you do it right
whether it’s biological or adoptive kids

0:29:32.620,0:29:39.610
they’ll turn out okay and do well
and that’s not true right just look around

0:29:39.610,0:29:46.150
you there are children that come from
really difficult awful circumstances

0:29:46.150,0:29:51.550
that are you know off to
Harvard or something seriously and then

0:29:51.550,0:29:57.010
there are children that had lots of love
lots of consistency you know lots of

0:29:57.010,0:30:01.180
advantages
lots of privilege that aren’t doing well

0:30:01.180,0:30:08.620
at all so I think this narrative out
there also that if you do it right your

0:30:08.620,0:30:14.530
children will do well and they’ll behave
and you know every time I based on what

0:30:14.530,0:30:18.250
I’ve seen with the parents that I work
with and even in my own peer group of

0:30:18.250,0:30:25.630
people with biological kids you know
every time I hear comments like well you

0:30:25.630,0:30:32.080
know it really depends on the parents or
their parents raise them right or well

0:30:32.080,0:30:40.100
in our house it wasn’t an option not to
go to college and I’m thinking well your

0:30:40.140,0:30:44.420
kids might inside I’m thinking your kids
may have complied to that but I can tell

0:30:44.560,0:30:48.840
you there are kids you couldn’t have made to
go to college no matter what your

0:30:48.960,0:30:59.920
parenting strategy that’s right! so i do think there’s also this whole, even getting out of this particular realm

0:30:59.920,0:31:05.500
we’re talking about this idea if you do it right then your
kids will do really well and I’m not

0:31:05.500,0:31:10.290
saying there’s never correlation, i’m not
but I do feel like that is that is

0:31:10.290,0:31:15.430
overemphasizing and heaps guilt you know
every child and then as a young

0:31:15.430,0:31:19.330
adult has choices to make what they’re
gonna adapt that were their parents

0:31:19.330,0:31:22.900
values and what their parents taught
them and whatnot don’t you think that’s

0:31:22.900,0:31:28.870
missing too much absolutely I think it’s
so great that you’re saying that

0:31:28.870,0:31:34.480
I’m so glad you’re saying that because
in fact my friend Jackie and I have been

0:31:34.480,0:31:39.789
having this conversation recently and
what we’ve been talking about is how

0:31:39.789,0:31:48.460
really parenting success really means
parenting with integrity and parenting

0:31:48.460,0:31:56.320
with compassion and parenting with the
best skill you have you know it’s like

0:31:56.320,0:32:02.860
that’s what great parenting is and the
outcome is the outcome – and the outcome

0:32:02.860,0:32:10.960
is the outcome A + B does not always
equal C in this case right right because

0:32:10.960,0:32:16.480
kids are people they are, they’re people they’re
different they have choices they

0:32:16.480,0:32:23.529
you know may reject a lot of what your
values were even if you went about

0:32:23.529,0:32:30.020
teaching them in a very kind compassion
and understanding excellent way

0:32:30.020,0:32:37.480
oh I know it’s gonna sound really trite
and weary

0:32:37.570,0:32:46.900
and self-care as well as understanding
oh you froze…

0:32:49.750,0:32:56.960
are you there now yeah I don’t know what
happened I’m sorry yeah you froze and I

0:32:56.960,0:33:01.250
bet I froze too
yes you did I’m sorry so I think you

0:33:01.250,0:33:05.900
wanted to talk about though like so when
parents are in that moment it really

0:33:05.900,0:33:09.800
overwhelmed in like I’m not gonna deal
with this and the therapeutic parenting

0:33:09.800,0:33:19.280
way you know what can they do and how
can we help them and I think that it

0:33:19.280,0:33:27.980
takes a tremendous amount of support yes
I don’t think there’s any other way and

0:33:27.980,0:33:32.390
I know that sounds may be a really
simplistic but even in looking at the

0:33:32.390,0:33:36.890
data from the Illinois adoption
preservation program which really did

0:33:36.890,0:33:42.140
some nice research around this, one of the
number one the number one thing that

0:33:42.140,0:33:47.930
parents found helpful unfortunately for
me as a therapist was not finding a

0:33:47.930,0:33:53.090
great therapist for the child it was
interacting with other foster and

0:33:53.090,0:34:00.980
adoptive parents that was the number one
thing that helped parents feel supported

0:34:00.980,0:34:08.650
and able to continue moving forward with
with parenting their children yeah and

0:34:08.650,0:34:15.920
having I think I can say for myself
having other people who were willing to

0:34:15.920,0:34:23.320
learn how to support your kids in a way
that they could step in and take care of

0:34:23.320,0:34:30.230
your kids that’s for me – that for me has
always been my biggest thing as you know

0:34:30.230,0:34:38.360
what I call relational mentors people
who can come in – I think that is so critical I

0:34:38.360,0:34:44.810
think and to me that falls under the
umbrella of support because yes ya know folks

0:34:44.810,0:34:52.820
out there parenting no matter who they’re
parenting I mean they may have

0:34:52.820,0:34:57.770
grandparents that can help out or they have
activities that the children go to I

0:34:57.770,0:35:01.250
mean but look at all the parents right
now

0:35:01.250,0:35:06.140
who are having their kids 24/7 that are
really struggling because they’re not

0:35:06.140,0:35:09.920
they’re used to their kids being able to
go to a summer camp or they’re you

0:35:09.920,0:35:16.150
know their kid you know is normally in school all day and when all of those

0:35:16.150,0:35:25.970
natural supports are taken away and you
have a child that would that w-

0:35:25.970,0:35:29.630
they’re taken away for these parents not
because of covid-19 but you have to a

0:35:29.630,0:35:35.540
child that that blows out of those kind
of programs right now so I think we

0:35:35.540,0:35:39.800
talked before about the level of
isolation of families and feeling like

0:35:39.800,0:35:46.940
it’s all on me really mirrors what a lot
of parents who have kids with you know

0:35:46.940,0:35:51.290
really challenging behaviors where they
can’t just go to the summer camp or you

0:35:51.290,0:35:57.170
know they they’re not doing well in
school or they’re not at youth group

0:35:57.170,0:36:01.160
or scouting or something for a few
hours so you can do a date night or

0:36:01.160,0:36:07.339
something like if your child can’t do
any of those things then that’s a loss

0:36:07.339,0:36:12.920
of support and that’s what I think your
relational mentor is key exactly and I

0:36:12.920,0:36:20.390
think to that’s one of the things that
that I’m seeing with the parents that I

0:36:20.390,0:36:27.500
support and work with is that in the
beginning well and you know you were

0:36:27.500,0:36:32.119
talking about parents in the in the
three categories the parents that I

0:36:32.119,0:36:41.300
work with during this during this time
of Covid-19 the parents that are really

0:36:41.300,0:36:46.099
the in that first category that you were
describing they were actually really

0:36:46.099,0:36:51.170
enjoying being at home with their kids
for a long time in the beginning because

0:36:51.170,0:36:55.700
they were actually able to be at home
their kids were at home and so they were

0:36:55.700,0:37:00.859
implementing all of this stuff and
things are going really smoothly yes for

0:37:00.859,0:37:06.500
a long time but then the intensity and
frequency of that really got them they

0:37:06.500,0:37:12.230
needed a break and they couldn’t get one
right so then it becomes exhausting and

0:37:12.230,0:37:17.529
the need
for support kicks in like yeah and then

0:37:17.529,0:37:21.609
the other of the families and the other
categories were really struggling

0:37:21.609,0:37:27.309
because they didn’t have that support so
that they could have the stamina to try

0:37:27.309,0:37:32.249
to implement and make those shifts right and I think just

0:37:32.970,0:37:40.390
to bring in for a second time like a
broader sociological perspective as we

0:37:40.390,0:37:43.539
were talking about this myth out there
and no matter who you parent if you do

0:37:43.539,0:37:46.329
it right then they turn out great and
what they don’t there’s something wrong

0:37:46.329,0:37:53.079
with you know Bruce Perry does talk
about this you know Mary Peiffer and

0:37:53.079,0:37:59.529
others talk about you know that ideally
we had a large extended family or tribe

0:37:59.529,0:38:06.880
around us helping with parenting so you
know that in and of itself again looking

0:38:06.880,0:38:15.359
just from a social perspective that it’s
again harder to parent any child now

0:38:15.359,0:38:20.200
because we’re not as connected as
neighbors and family and aunts and

0:38:20.200,0:38:24.969
cousins and uncles and every you know
we’re geographically spread out you know

0:38:24.969,0:38:33.009
so already some of those supports have
been taken away in terms of how children

0:38:33.009,0:38:36.700
were raised years ago when they were
almost like raised by the church the

0:38:36.700,0:38:40.269
school the neighborhood the synagogue
whatever like everybody was kind of on

0:38:40.269,0:38:47.079
board like absolutely and so then you
look at now a lot of those supports

0:38:47.079,0:38:55.630
being gone and then what little is left
these parents can’t access what little

0:38:55.630,0:39:00.549
is left because their children’s
behaviors are too misunderstood too out

0:39:00.549,0:39:06.670
of control whatever so it’s really a
recipe for disaster without that’s why I

0:39:06.670,0:39:15.719
love love love your relational mentor
idea and we’re finding at Chaddock that

0:39:15.719,0:39:21.759
again it doesn’t bode well for me as a
therapist but I will tell you that our

0:39:21.759,0:39:28.040
director of foster and adoption has
said there are many cases where if I had

0:39:28.040,0:39:36.500
to pick a parent coach or a therapist I
would pick a parent coach – now just in

0:39:36.500,0:39:41.090
terms of defining that for us our parent
coaches are people who’ve worked in

0:39:41.090,0:39:47.450
residential and have managed a lot
of really severe behaviors and have

0:39:47.450,0:39:53.870
taught other people how to do that so
our therapists that’s a different skill

0:39:53.870,0:40:00.170
set than our therapists have right you
know we’re used to seeing like one kid and maybe

0:40:00.170,0:40:05.720
a kid and their parents for 50 minutes
like we’re not used to 24/7 when they’re

0:40:05.720,0:40:09.860
peeing on the floor and throwing the
toothpaste at you but that’s not our

0:40:09.860,0:40:18.680
everyday occurrence so not we can’t
help and give ideas about that but I do

0:40:18.680,0:40:24.550
think people who’ve been there and done
that have a different skill set then

0:40:24.550,0:40:29.600
therapists and again I’m a therapist
myself so I’m not trying to diminish

0:40:29.600,0:40:37.430
what we have to offer but I do you think
the mentors parent coaches who have

0:40:37.430,0:40:43.550
experience whether it’s in our case
residential staff who have been you

0:40:43.550,0:40:48.500
know with these kids hundreds of them
over many many years whether it’s

0:40:48.500,0:40:54.500
parents who’ve raised these kids I think
we really have to honor you know what

0:40:54.500,0:40:58.370
they bring and not just always think oh
if we could just find the right

0:40:58.370,0:41:04.400
therapists in our community and I love
one of the things that you have said too

0:41:04.400,0:41:11.720
before is that there are lots of ways to
intervene yes it’s not just therapy

0:41:11.720,0:41:18.380
right a lot of times we think that kids
who have this level of need the only way

0:41:18.380,0:41:22.730
they can be served the only way they can
be supported is in the therapists office

0:41:22.730,0:41:30.950
and that’s really just not true it’s
also not realistic it’s not yeah you’re

0:41:30.950,0:41:38.640
right yeah it’s not
I I think that that’s that’s really true

0:41:38.640,0:41:45.480
our kids need a lot more support yeah
yeah it’s not and I think sometimes you

0:41:45.480,0:41:52.530
know parents I think it’s sort of that
idea that you talked about earlier that

0:41:52.530,0:41:56.970
the idea is you find a good therapist
and you take the kid there and like you

0:41:56.970,0:42:02.400
pick them up and I mean that I do think
that’s still the prevailing idea out

0:42:02.400,0:42:10.859
there and we might throw a psychiatrist
in there with for some medication I

0:42:10.859,0:42:15.750
think that they’re really missing out
you know that’s that’s why I said you

0:42:15.750,0:42:23.369
know I was so excited about your work
with relational mentors because there

0:42:23.369,0:42:28.020
are a lot of places across the country
where there’s not a therapist trained in

0:42:28.020,0:42:32.940
some of these ways or I mean there’s a
there’s a shortage of child and

0:42:32.940,0:42:36.540
adolescent psychiatrist and I’m not
diminishing the help that any of those

0:42:36.540,0:42:41.910
people can give but if you’re in a more
rural area or you’re in an area where

0:42:41.910,0:42:47.580
their services aren’t available you know
the parent coaching and relational

0:42:47.580,0:42:54.630
mentors and these very creative ideas
are just it just expands the number of

0:42:54.630,0:43:00.720
people that can provide help and support
out of the paradigm of like the medical

0:43:00.720,0:43:07.530
model and that’s what’s so great about I
mean I mean I just wish we had a Chaddock in

0:43:07.530,0:43:14.210
our area I mean Chaddock is so great
because you because Chaddock is

0:43:14.210,0:43:21.210
available to your community right you
have a community school that’s really a

0:43:21.210,0:43:26.130
great thing that you’re available to
your community as well and yeah that’s not

0:43:26.130,0:43:34.650
available everywhere I mean this maybe
goes without saying but we were having a

0:43:34.650,0:43:42.450
conversation yesterday about a situation
and you know part of the reason that we

0:43:42.450,0:43:48.420
can succeed is because of how many
people we have like we have teachers you know

0:43:48.420,0:43:52.500
we’re in the school environment with
teachers with this training we’re in the

0:43:52.500,0:43:56.369
home environment in the cottage
environment with staff who have this

0:43:56.369,0:44:00.869
training and somebody that when you are
really you know going into back brain or

0:44:00.869,0:44:03.960
you’re gonna blow it or you’re like the
heck with this therapeutic parenting

0:44:03.960,0:44:10.829
somebody else can take over so part of
it is not I mean we are trained in a lot

0:44:10.829,0:44:14.339
of clinical models and that does make
us unique and I don’t want to undersell

0:44:14.339,0:44:19.859
all the work we put into that but part
of its manpower like we have enough

0:44:19.859,0:44:26.430
people that when somebody’s you know the
shifts can change or somebody can step

0:44:26.430,0:44:33.750
in and take over and so some of it is
not just what we’re doing it is what

0:44:33.750,0:44:37.980
we’re doing but we have enough people to
consistently do it all the time in a way

0:44:37.980,0:44:42.240
that’s not possible in a home when
there’s like you and one other adult and

0:44:42.240,0:44:46.950
possibly other children absolutely and
one of the other things that we talk

0:44:46.950,0:44:53.279
we’ve talked about many times but I just
want to touch on is obviously nobody

0:44:53.279,0:44:59.460
thinks that residential being in
residential is the optimal situation

0:44:59.460,0:45:06.059
it’s a last resort situation when a
child’s need is so great that they can’t

0:45:06.059,0:45:13.920
be at the present time in a family in
their family situation but what is

0:45:13.920,0:45:23.490
wonderful about that as a resource for
kids with extremely challenging with

0:45:23.490,0:45:29.309
extreme challenges is the ability for
them to get the intense level of care

0:45:29.309,0:45:35.549
that they need at the time – yes
so that’s why I mean for people who

0:45:35.549,0:45:40.259
think residential should just vanish and
it’s not right for everybody I really

0:45:40.259,0:45:46.200
don’t agree with that I mean we did you
know start our intensive in-home program

0:45:46.200,0:45:51.480
where we go – fly to people’s homes and
intensely work with them multiple days

0:45:51.480,0:45:55.710
with a therapist and a parent coach to
try to prevent out of home placement you

0:45:55.710,0:46:01.920
know so we obviously believe it should
be a last resort but I do think it

0:46:01.920,0:46:11.809
is the right thing for a certain number
of kids and you know once the kids start

0:46:11.809,0:46:17.369
cycling in and out of the local
psychiatric unit and all of these kinds

0:46:17.369,0:46:22.799
of things and are put on these huge
medication cocktails and I mean it’s

0:46:22.799,0:46:32.190
like that that is really typically not
providing a lot of success for our kids

0:46:32.190,0:46:39.000
absolutely and as a parent I can say
that I’m so grateful for places like

0:46:39.000,0:46:46.440
Chaddock that are specialized in
attachment and trauma that really do the

0:46:46.440,0:46:52.170
work of getting to those deep attachment
and trauma related needs so that kids

0:46:52.170,0:46:57.059
can go because the whole goal is for
them to be able to go back to their home

0:46:57.059,0:47:05.640
and be able to be right you know and and
Winnicott talked about it and others

0:47:05.640,0:47:09.750
that holding environment and needing to
create a holding environment and

0:47:09.750,0:47:15.960
sometimes when you do start working on
these issues the holding environment

0:47:15.960,0:47:22.470
that the kids need is just more than
what a family can provide there’s a level of aggression

0:47:22.470,0:47:31.710
and different things but even if you’re
doing this in a very sensitive way aware

0:47:31.710,0:47:38.549
of sensory issues aware of co-regulation
um it just takes a while sometimes for

0:47:38.549,0:47:45.030
the for the kids to work through the
tremendous pain and anger and it comes

0:47:45.030,0:47:52.109
out in behaviors yeah it does
absolutely I I want to hold up your book

0:47:52.109,0:47:58.230
and I also just want to say I wish I had
time to go through this entire book and

0:47:58.230,0:48:03.390
ask questions and talk about but there
is one my very favorite thing in this

0:48:03.390,0:48:10.369
book that I think every parent should
get is you talk there’s there’s a whole

0:48:10.369,0:48:18.119
section of the book that is that
it’s okay to revisit an earlier stage

0:48:18.119,0:48:23.669
that’s my very favorite part of the book
can you speak just a tiny bit to that

0:48:23.669,0:48:28.739
because it’s my favorite part of the
book I’m so glad somebody said it yes

0:48:28.739,0:48:38.729
yes so I think that you know some
parents you know we do talk about you

0:48:38.729,0:48:42.659
know that we have to look at the child
at their developmental age and not their

0:48:42.659,0:48:47.489
chronological age and I think you know
that’s another thing that’s like okay

0:48:47.489,0:48:52.349
yeah that makes sense but I think that
this this part that you’re bringing up

0:48:52.349,0:49:00.029
is and so like there may be moments when
they mean even though they’re in the

0:49:00.029,0:49:05.189
body of a 13, 14, 15 year old they need
something that a two or three year old

0:49:05.189,0:49:14.429
needs and/or they need that level of
attention for certain periods of time so

0:49:14.429,0:49:20.749
I think it’s a it’s a really way of
operationalizing this idea that you know

0:49:20.749,0:49:26.999
if they are at that younger
developmental age particularly in

0:49:26.999,0:49:30.659
certain moments then what do you do I
mean I think one of the most common

0:49:30.659,0:49:35.279
things people tell me is they’ll have a
child that’s older and you know 8,

0:49:35.279,0:49:40.109
9, 10 and they run away and I’ll say
so what would you do if they were two or

0:49:40.109,0:49:45.899
three well I’d hold their hand and I say
well, hold their hand you know I mean

0:49:45.899,0:49:51.329
and what is often interesting too is
parents think well they’re not gonna let

0:49:51.329,0:50:00.479
me do that and they do yes they do they
do now if you go about it like all

0:50:00.479,0:50:04.469
unsure and thinking they’re not going to
let you and this is kind of strange and

0:50:04.469,0:50:10.199
I shouldn’t have to do this with a kid
this age then they wont right or angry

0:50:10.199,0:50:22.679
or angry or if you’re like GIVE ME YOUR HAND we want
to be proactive about it so but –

0:50:22.679,0:50:27.990
and it can be anything
from you know rubbing your child’s back

0:50:27.990,0:50:33.450
at night after their bath I mean we
we’ve had teenage boys at Chaddock who

0:50:33.450,0:50:43.140
loved having a bedtime story they never
had bedtime stories, ever and people are like “what?”

0:50:43.140,0:50:47.340
this kid whose feet are extending over
the edge of the bed you want me to tuck

0:50:47.340,0:50:56.310
them in and read them a bedtime story
yeah we do yeah once a staff member or a

0:50:56.310,0:51:03.510
caregiver can see how the kids just kind
of soak it up like a sponge – when

0:51:03.510,0:51:10.380
you make it okay for them to reveal
those earlier unmet needs and you’re

0:51:10.380,0:51:18.450
there to meet them they will show
them they will show you those needs when

0:51:18.450,0:51:24.470
they feel safe and that you’re gonna
show up for those level of needs

0:51:24.470,0:51:33.180
otherwise it just can often come out and
really negative aggressive behavior when

0:51:33.180,0:51:36.540
really what’s under it is these earlier
unmet needs

0:51:36.540,0:51:41.940
so Karen I think that what happens a lot
of times with the parents I work with is

0:51:41.940,0:51:48.600
they get really stuck on developmentally
appropriate behavior and I think

0:51:48.600,0:51:54.660
that can you just explain what it does
for the brain and what it does

0:51:54.660,0:52:02.130
emotionally when we do let them go back
to an earlier stage yeah and so you know

0:52:02.130,0:52:08.850
the way I like to explain this to parents
is you know thinking of how a house is

0:52:08.850,0:52:12.480
built on a foundation and we have to
have you know the bricks and the

0:52:12.480,0:52:17.790
basement we have to have all of this in
place all of these you know pieces of

0:52:17.790,0:52:21.840
the foundation need to be put in place
so that you can put you know the

0:52:21.840,0:52:26.970
bedrooms and upstairs and the roof and
if you try to put the upstairs on the

0:52:26.970,0:52:31.380
roof on when there’s pieces of the
foundation missing the whole thing

0:52:31.380,0:52:36.260
crumbles right
I can tell you we have had the

0:52:36.260,0:52:40.309
opportunity because we have an
Independent Living Program and there are

0:52:40.309,0:52:44.240
many kids that we raised through
adulthood like we’re it we’re who

0:52:44.240,0:52:47.990
they’re gonna have they’re not
they’re there aging out of the system

0:52:47.990,0:52:53.990
and you know we’ll have people focus on
they need to learn to use the bus they

0:52:53.990,0:52:58.609
need to you know learn to do these
independent things they need to you know

0:52:58.609,0:53:09.859
get a job they need to learn how to do a
resume – to that I say well when

0:53:09.859,0:53:16.369
we sent him to the job interview that we
spent so much time you know schooling

0:53:16.369,0:53:21.349
him how to do and role plays and all of
that something got him really upset and

0:53:21.349,0:53:29.030
dysregulated along the way and he never
got there so if we can’t teach our

0:53:29.030,0:53:34.700
kids enough you know regulation and how
to handle my emotions and and that

0:53:34.700,0:53:40.700
starts at these really early unmet needs
like if there are holes in the bottom of

0:53:40.700,0:53:44.690
the foundation of that house they’re
gonna be holes and the ability to

0:53:44.690,0:53:51.020
regulate yourself and so then you know
yeah we can teach them these rooftop

0:53:51.020,0:53:55.700
things like a resume and and job
interview and all of that but if the

0:53:55.700,0:54:00.770
first day on the job they get so upset
and say F U to the person because

0:54:00.770,0:54:05.540
they’re so sad and so hurt and so
triggered by something the person said

0:54:05.540,0:54:11.510
because of these earlier unmet needs not
feeling safe not feeling secure not

0:54:11.510,0:54:16.099
having the ability to have somebody say
something like that to you and still

0:54:16.099,0:54:21.049
feel like you’re a worthy an okay person
none of that’s gonna matter you know so

0:54:21.049,0:54:25.880
looking at these earlier needs you’re
loved you’re precious you are accepted

0:54:25.880,0:54:31.369
you know all of these things you’re
worthy of nurture you matter all of the

0:54:31.369,0:54:37.250
things in that early foundational piece
that we provide through children get

0:54:37.250,0:54:43.990
those needs met in ways that we take
care of young children

0:54:44.170,0:54:49.670
experiences they have with us that at a
deep level they know their preciousness

0:54:49.670,0:54:56.150
and their value and so that when
something like that happens at the job

0:54:56.150,0:55:01.549
interview they don’t feel like I’m a
piece of garbage and just lose it right

0:55:01.549,0:55:07.039
so it’s not too late to go back no it’s
not too late to go back you know and

0:55:07.039,0:55:15.079
sometimes I and I feel like what we’re
doing we’re not we’re not trying to baby

0:55:15.079,0:55:19.609
them we’re trying to fortify them in a
way that they can act independent

0:55:19.609,0:55:26.059
consistently that’s so true so
beautifully put they can act independent

0:55:26.059,0:55:32.780
inconsistently but we all know in real
life that becomes problematic yeah I

0:55:32.780,0:55:40.460
look at this as a way to fortify them in
their ability to hold that level of

0:55:40.460,0:55:47.440
Independence and a developmentally
appropriate behavior more consistently

0:55:47.440,0:55:53.029
because that’s the key like getting them
to do that one day like whoop I mean

0:55:53.029,0:55:57.980
exactly
and I think people get overly focused on

0:55:57.980,0:56:04.940
that and so we have to look at what are
their earlier unmet needs so that they

0:56:04.940,0:56:09.829
can more consistently be at their
developmental level we put that brick in

0:56:09.829,0:56:13.970
the bottom of the house so that when
something shaky happens at the higher

0:56:13.970,0:56:18.950
level of the house the house isn’t going
to collapse now we we’ve met some of

0:56:18.950,0:56:25.880
those earlier unmet needs and now the
house can handle that right thank you so

0:56:25.880,0:56:33.920
much for – drawing that out I love
that thank you so much Karen you have

0:56:33.920,0:56:40.510
given me so much time I could talk to
you all day long as we have before yes

0:56:40.510,0:56:47.400
we don’t like time limits on our conversations – I’m definitely gonna have to do like

0:56:47.400,0:56:57.090
a whole series someday visit or
something thank you so much I very much

0:56:57.090,0:57:03.390
appreciate you being on and we will make
sure that everybody knows where to buy

0:57:03.390,0:57:09.510
your book and how to listen to your
podcast and thank you so much for your

0:57:09.510,0:57:16.800
work and for for giving us your time
absolutely my pleasure thank you and

0:57:16.800,0:57:20.450
we’ll see you soon I hope in person

0:57:20.780,0:57:23.780
okay bye!

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