Small Steps & Giant Leaps
In this blog, one of our foster carers shares her reflections and pride on the significant strides of her teenager on a recent family summer holiday.
Trauma Informed Therapeutic Parenting does work, however it needs time to be cultivated and tended to, like a tiny seed as it grows, and we need to continue to view the world through our trauma lens.
Having just returned from a family holiday, I thought I would share some reflections on how this holiday compares with a previous holiday two years ago.(That’s a whole previous blog all on its own).
During the course of the week, I saw many situations unfold in front of me and my mind automatically recognised them as significant signs of real progress or “Giant Leaps”. To the outside world they would not have gained any attention and would be considered as completely “normal” interactions or behaviours of a 14-year-old, however to me they were the result of a huge amount of effort on his part and over three years of Trauma-Informed Therapeutic Parenting on ours.
This week my 14-year-old made a friend. He approached another boy his own age and struck up a conversation, they exchanged numbers and they met up each day for the rest of the holiday, hanging out together, texting each other, interacting… being friends.
This week my 14-year-old was able to choose from a fairly large menu without having a meltdown due to the huge pressure of possibly making the wrong choice. He also managed to choose another drink when the waiter told him his first choice was unavailable! This situation would in the past have warranted an emotional meltdown due to feeling put on the spot and being asked to make a choice in a hurry.
This week my 14-year old dressed in a smart new shirt and jeans (rather than comfy joggers) and said he “looked good” and he “felt good”. He also went out in public without his hood up, enjoying his newfound slice of confidence. This one in particular gave me huge punch right in the feels!
This week my 14-year-old joined in some healthy banter with others without feeling that it was directed towards him in a negative way. His humour shone through and he had others laughing with him.
This week my 14-year-old took on the responsibility of kicking around the holiday park with his friend without getting involved in any “drama’s”. Avoiding drama’s that actually belonged to him, AND drama’s that belonged to others, that would have landed right at his feet and sucked him in like a magnet. There were no parents seeking me out to complain, or security chapping on my door regarding any breakages, verbal or physical attacks on others, or generally troublesome behaviours. In fact, I was informed by one parent that my 14-year-old let her smaller boy go in front of him at an activity.
This week my 14-year-old told me he was having a great time and was “happy”.
This week my 14-year-old exchanged his tokens for prizes within ten minutes, as opposed to upwards of two hours, and even used some of his tickets to choose a gift for others.
This week my 14-year-old engaged in friendly interactions with girls his own age and looked confident doing so.
Those of us who live with, or work with, youngsters with ADHD, FASD, Attachment Disorder, Autism, or who have been affected by Trauma of any sort will understand just how huge these reflections are. All these marks of progress didn’t happen easily, they still needed a huge amount of effort from him and are the results of over three years of Trauma Informed Therapeutic Parenting from us. I also know that these challenges are not gone forever, that he will continue to struggle with all the points above from time to time, and for many years to come.
These signs of amazing progress look tiny and insignificant to the untrained eye. However, to those of us viewing our youngsters through a trauma lens can see them for the huge signs of progress that they really are. One small step for mankind… One giant leap for Trauma Informed Therapeutic Parents. I saw one parent / carer whose youngster was totally overwhelmed with the sensory overload of the arcade, the noise, the crowds, the excitement and disappointments and she dealt with it amazingly. I was able to give her some hope that I had been where she is and that actually things do get easier for our youngsters, and for us, and that her boy too would make some giant leaps in the months and years to come. Trauma Informed Therapeutic Parenting does work, however it needs time to be cultivated and tended to, like a tiny seed as it grows, and we need to continue to view the world through our trauma lens.