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Helping Kids Calm

January 12, 2017

You’re probably looking to add just a few more tools to your toolbox when it comes to helping your kiddo stay regulated.  I know I always am!  Once your child has TOTALLY flipped their lid, there isn’t much to do besides wait and keep everyone safe.  But what about before that?  What are some things you can do to invite your child back into regulation before their lid gets completely flipped??

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There are three primary ways we can help with regulation- brain, body, and relationship.  Using the brain by teaching cognitive skills and using our words to help the child calm is usually the ‘go to’ but is it really the most effective?  Nah, not really.  As children get more and more dysregulated, they literally lose access to the thinking parts of their brain.  All that good information stored in their thinking brain about how to stay calm?  They can’t find it.  And…..as children get more and more dysregulated, YOUR language and words become the most difficult thing for their brain to process!

SO.  Let’s look at the two other ways we can help kids regulate. Through the BODY and through RELATIONSHIP.

I’m hosting a webinar NEXT WEDNESDAY, January 18, that will go over these two strategies in depth.

We’ll be looking at ways to get your child’s body moving in a way that could bring about some regulation.  We are also going to look at ways your child’s sensory processing system may be contributing to their overall state of dysregulation, and I’m going to provide some concrete strategies to help your child feel better in their sensory environment.

And finally, I’ll remind you that relationship is really the ultimate regulator.  How can we really capitalize on relationship and use connection in moments of dysregulation, inviting our child to come back into regulation with us? I have a few ideas!!!

One More Exciting Detail

I’m offering this webinar at a super discounted rate to celebrate that I have FINALLY finished decorating my home office!!!  We’ve lived in this house for eight and a half years and my home office has been a bit of a disaster that entire time.  But I finally did it.  Emptied it out.  Painted.  New furniture.  Organized.  All with the intention of being able to do my videos and webinars from home.  In the future, this means more webinars!  But for today, it means a great discount for you.  It’s kinda like I want to throw a party to celebrate my new office and have as many friends come as possible, so I’m making a really amazing menu 🙂

Friends…come to the webinar!  What’s to lose really?  It will be live next Wednesday evening, but you don’t have to attend live (in fact, most people don’t…).  The webinar will be recorded and everyone who registers will receive a link to the recording.

Details:

When: Wednesday January 18, 2017; 8pm eastern, 7pm central, 6pm mountain, 5pm pacific.  OR WHENEVER because you will receive a recording!!!

Where: Your house!  No need to get dressed or get childcare!  You can wear your favorite jammies and sip wine or hot cocoa.  You can even sip loudly, because no one will hear you!!!

What: Helping Kids Calm: Using the body and relationship to support regulation

How Much: $12.  $12!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  That’s it!!!!  For a one hour webinar with a therapist who specializes in working with children with complex trauma.  And for the recording!!!  This is a great deal.

How to Register: CLICK HERE.  You’ll be able to review the details and then register for the LIVE and RECORDED webinar.

See you then!!!

~

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Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

Rediscovering those Super-Powers {you’ve acquired them on this trauma-parenting journey…}

January 8, 2017

Almost four years ago…well, three and a half I guess…(side note- how is that EVEN POSSIBLE?!?!?!  It’s been almost four years!!!!) I blogged about the super-powers that I was seeing emerge in all the moms and dads I know who are parenting a child with a history of trauma.  Parenting young ones who have experienced chronic trauma inside their most precious relationship is..well….let’s just say….challenging.

Super-powers might seem a little cliché but I really think it’s apropos.  Other parents aren’t reading books like “The Body Keeps the Score” by leading trauma researcher, scientist, and clinician Bessel van der Kolk.  For real, I see this book recommended on a popular trauma parenting Facebook group all. the. time.  It’s not a parenting book!  It’s a book for people working in the field!!!  And it’s on your nightstand!!!!

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Then there’s the way parenting a child with trauma forces us to look inside at our own delightfully messy selves.  I mean, all parents really should be examining their own history and triggers, contemplating how we are passing those triggers on in each generation….but MOST parents get to do this with children they grow themselves.  Children with their genes.  Children who, for better or worse, have been adapting to our own neuroses since the day they were born.  When you parent a child who experienced complex trauma in a different attachment relationship, the pieces of the puzzle don’t fit together quite so nicely.  My own history will ping off a child who experienced someone else’s parenting much different than it will ping off a child I raised from birth.  Neither are ideal, but the meeting of two vastly different nervous systems is much more likely to cause an explosion.

And these are the things parents of children who have experienced complex trauma are doing each and every moment they are parenting, whether they realize it or not.  They develop these super-powers not because they particularly want to or have some weird obsession with the brain and human development (although they might…).  They develop these super-powers because they HAVE to.  Because their kids NEED them to.  It is completely non-negotiable.

Those super-powers I identified way back when (really?  Almost four years ago?!?!?!):

  1. Understanding the neurobiological impact of trauma on the brain. For real.  My friends who aren’t adoptive parents don’t need to do this.  I mean, even I don’t need to this, except I swim in the neurobiological impact of trauma every day in the office….so yeah, I do need to do this.  But not in order to simply parent.  You pin infographics about PTSD.  Other parents pin new dinner recipes.  Well, you do that too…your kids gotta eat just like everyone else….but it’s next to an image of the brain and an explanation of the polyvagal theory.
  2. Understanding how your child’s specific trauma has impacted their specific brain. General theory is great.  Now apply it to your kid.  In your free time.  Between making dinner, going to work, talking with your child’s OT, getting all the right people to show up at your child’s ARD, and helping with the dreaded science fair project.
  3. Understanding how you are participating in what I have oh-so-cheesily named the ‘trauma tornado.’ When your child is triggered (you figured out their triggers in step 2…), how are YOU triggered?    Do you always react calmly and with much thought and consideration??  No?  Well, then your stuff is getting triggered.  Let’s find out.  Cuz yeah, that’s fun.  Going digging in our own histories to find our weakest spots and earliest hurts.  Party time.
  4. Trauma Momma- Heal Thyself. Knowing our triggers is a HUGE part of this journey, but knowing isn’t healing.  Healing looks different for everyone, but how can we notice our triggers, call a pause, calm our own dysregulation, and then jump OUT of the aforementioned trauma tornado?  Because we can’t wait for our kids to do those things.  And if we don’t, we just keep swirling around in a big ole mess of tornado-style dysregulation.

 

I’m assuming I have a reader or two who wasn’t around back in 2013 and also hasn’t read back through all of the archives on this blog, so I thought it might be worth it to resurrect these ideas.

Need help honing your super powers?  Stick around…I’m trying to do just that.

Here’s to a 2017 that’s better than 2016….

~

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Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

It’s OK to be Human, Mama…

January 2, 2017

When my son was 11-months-old, I stumbled upon a group of women who would later morph into a small, weekly playgroup.  All of our kiddos were the same age- most within weeks of each other, and all within months.  For YEARS we met weekly.  These mamas kept me sane and got me thru those intense years of being a stay-at-home-mom.  When they babies went to kindergarten, we naturally began meeting less frequently…but we are still connected on our super-secret Facebook group and see each other in person a few times each year (we are scattered throughout our big city).

When we were weathering that stage of toddlerhood into preschoolers, I remember telling one of these dear ladies who was being super duper hard on herself for losing her cool at her sweet child… “Sometimes the natural consequence of being a total pain is that you get yelled at.”  This is especially true if your connected, attuned, attachment-focused mama has attempted to do all those things repeatedly (be connected, be attuned, be attachment focused….) and the annoying behavior still hasn’t stopped.

 

its-ok-to-be-human-mama-1Here’s the thing.

Yeah, we shouldn’t yell at other people.  Big people or small people.  We should try to keep our cool.  We should work hard on staying regulated because it’s better for our small people and it’s better for ourselves.

But we cannot take the human out of parent.

Try as we might, we just cannot.  And actually, we should not.

 

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Once…probably about the same time period in my super fantastic son’s life (who is now almost 11)…I was walking thru the mall with my mom.  My parents live a plane ride away….I can’t really remember the occasion for the trip but my mom and I pretty much always go shopping when we are together.  Anyway.  My preschool child- maybe kindergardener, I really don’t remember…was a few steps ahead of us acting a fool.  I remember looking at my mom, not breaking my stride, nodding toward my son, and saying “People pay me for parenting advice.”  Oh, we laughed.

 

We are all struggling…attempting to do our best.  And sometimes our best isn’t super pretty.  Sometimes it’s yelling.  Sometimes it’s totally losing our cool.  Sometimes it’s chucking a granola bar at your kid at point blank range because you just bought a Costco size box of these granola bars that your picky eater SWEARS he loves and three days into this Costco size box of granola bars he looks at you sheepishly and says “Uh…I don’t really like those….”  (I mean, I’m totally making that up…)

It’s ok to be human.

It’s OK to mess up.  In fact, secure attachment is made up of just as much rupture and repair as it is getting it right in the first place.  The repair piece is important…we have to reconnect after a rupture in relationship.  A genuine, authentic “I’m sorry” and reconnection.

Rupture happens without us trying.  It’s inevitable.  We are human.  Our humanity, in all of it’s flawed wonderment, is exactly what our kids need.

It’s OK to be human.  Promise.

~

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Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

{Free Podcast} The Importance of Parental Self-Care

December 5, 2016

I had the honor of being interviewed by author Kenneth A. Camp on the importance of parental self-care for parents raising children impacted by trauma- specifically adoptive and foster parents.

Podcast: The Importance of Parental Self-Care

Kenny and I met several years ago at an Adoption Knowledge Affiliates events.  Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of running into him at different adoption and foster care events and trainings, including Empower to Connect.  Knowing that this adoptive dad is a fierce advocate for connection-based parents (particularly Trust Based Relational Intervention), I eagerly agreed to the podcast interview!

Kenny has written a new book for adoptive and foster parents who use trust-based and connection-inspired parenting with their children.  After you listen to the podcast, check out his new book “Foster and Adoption Parenting: Authentic Stories that will Inspire and Encourage Parenting with Connection.”

If you listen to the podcast and want to spend even more time listening to me, you can join me for the webinar How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption, happening THIS Tuesday, December 6!!!

So grateful for each of you,

~

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LIVE Webinar next Tuesday December 6th!  How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption.  Can’t make it live?  All participants will receive a recording of the webinar to watch as often as you’d like!  CLICK HERE!!!

Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

{Webinar} How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption PART 2

November 30, 2016

Happy Wednesday!!!  I hope you are recovering from your holiday week and finding some semblance of a routine before Christmas blows that out of the water 😉

Part 2 of the webinar “How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption” is happening next Tuesday December 6.  This is part 2 of 2 but don’t worry if you missed part 1!  When you register for part 2, you can choose the option to also receive the recording of part 1.  They don’t have to be watched in order so don’t stress about trying to watch part 1 before Tuesday!

As always, the webinar is offered LIVE but ALL participants will receive a link to the recording.  The webinars are offered in the evenings because that works best in MY schedule, but I completely get that it’s smack dab in the middle of bedtime, homework time, and/or dinner time for all of you!  I love to listen to webinars while I’m driving- obviously I don’t WATCH the webinar, I just listen to it like a podcast!

Over and over again, I get questions from adoptive parents about how to find the right language to talk to their kiddo about all the hard things that happened prior to their adoption.  For lots of reasons (explained all in part 1!!) I believe strongly in the importance of being age-appropriately honest with our children about their stories, but so often we just don’t know what words to use!  We’ll address some of the toughest topics (drug use, physical and sexual abuse, abandonment, etc…) and not only will I give suggestions on actual language to use, but I break it up by developmental stage.  What you would say to your 5-year-old will be different than your 15-year-old!

Sound good?  Head over to www.HardTruthsWebinar2.EventBrite.com for all the details and to register.

I’m so grateful tonight for the technology that allows me to connect with parents all over the world in all different ways.

~

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LIVE Webinar next Tuesday December 6th!  How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption.  Can’t make it live?  All participants will receive a recording of the webinar to watch as often as you’d like!  CLICK HERE!!!

Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

Why Good Times Can Suddenly Turn Bad

November 28, 2016

Big things, like their birthday party or a vacation to Disney World.

Little things, like Trunk or Treat at church or an afternoon at Jumpoline.

Why is it that your child can actually be having fun.  A great time!  And then fall into a crater of dysregulation?  You feel whip-lashed.  Maybe resentful.  Certainly grieved that for some reason, your sweet family and your precious child are missing out on some of the most anticipated, and seemingly normal, moments of their childhood.  Of being a family.

Why do some of those best times turn so bad?

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A quick little neurophysiology lesson.  The Amygdala.  The part of your brain responsible for appraising a situation and activating emotion. (Daniel Siegel, MD- The Pocket Guide to Interpersonal Neurobiology).

The amygdala is scanning for danger an estimated FOUR TIMES every second.  Every ¼ of a second, a teeny tiny cluster of neurons in the brain is asking “Safe?? Not safe?!?!?!”  The amygdala may need to recruit a few of it’s brain-friends to make the final determination on whether it needs to kick it full force into fight/flight/freeze (or not), but this almond-shaped neuron cluster is on the front line when it comes to making that initial assessment.

The amygdala definitely has a negativity bias- meaning that if it is going to make a mistake, it is going to err on the side of deciding something was NOT SAFE even if it actually was SAFE.  The amygdala also supercharges threatening experiences in our memory systems so that when we successfully fight off a sabre tooth tiger, the next time we see even a glimmer of a sabre tooth in our peripheral vision, we immediately access the memory networks that will help us claim victory once again.  The brain isn’t really that concerned with if the sabre tooth in your periphery is actually just a harmless kitty cat from your favorite next door neighbor.  Since the amygdala’s job is to keep you ALIVE, it is fine with you overreacting to the neighbor’s kitty cat as opposed to underreacting to the life-threatening sabre tooth tiger that roams your suburban neighborhood.

You remember Pavlov?  How he got dogs to salivate to a sound of a bell by repeatedly pairing that sound with their dinner?  The dogs started to connect the sound of a bell to “DINNER!!!!” even though there really isn’t any relationship between the two (outside that lab experiment).  Well, some of your kids have paired “DANGER” with things that aren’t actually dangerous (the telephone ringing)- because at one point in time, that thing WAS dangerous (when the phone rang and at that same moment, they witnessed horrible domestic violence).  Or maybe everything was dangerous.

So this might help you begin to figure out why certain fun experiences actually turn your kid into a dysregulated mess.  Think about those environments and be curious- is anything in that environment something that was previously paired with danger for my child?  Sounds? Smells?

But there is one more reallllllly important thing to think about.

The brain is interested in both EXTERNAL cues (discussed above) and INTERNAL cues.

Heart rate.  Respiration.  Cortisol levels.  Sympathetic activation.  All those things change when your child is having a great time.  Jumpoline?!?!  Definite increase in heart rate, respiration, and sympathetic activation.  Birthday party?!?!?  Increase.

Well….all of those things also increase during a fight/flight/freeze DANGER DANGER response.

As your child’s heart rate elevates- as sympathetic arousal elevates due to excitement, or in order to power your child’s body through the energy-required gross motor activities of the birthday party- your child’s brain is still scanning for danger.  And this time- the danger might actually be coming from INSIDE your child’s body.

Because just like Pavlov can pair a bell with salivation, your child’s body can pair increased heart rate with “I’m about to die.”

And just like that- the switch is flipped and all those fun times turn IMMEDIATELY into dysregulation.

Dysregulation that is fueled by the fact that your child is already in sympathetic activation- so the dysregulation might be BIG.

All of the sudden, everyone is out to hurt your child.  An innocent bump on the trampoline causes your child to retaliate with a fist because his brain believed it was an attack.  Or the sweet fun your child was having turns a bit maniacal.  It’s out of control and your child suddenly can’t hear or listen or stop doing the outrageously impulsive thing she is doing.

Because the amygdala is scanning for danger outside AND inside the body.

Because early in your child’s life, sympathetic activation only meant DANGER.  It didn’t mean fun or shared pleasure.  Only danger.

The really great news is that this pairing can be undone.  It takes time, patience, and perhaps a skilled therapist, but mostly a patient and attuned parent who can help the brain re-learn that an increased heart rate can just mean there is a TON of fun happening.

I’m imaging that as we wrap up one holiday week while still swimming in holiday festivities that won’t disappear for at least four weeks, you may be seeing some of this in your family.  Maybe even at this very moment while you are taking a break on the internet from the chaos that is swirling in the background.

We’re gonna make it to January.  Promise.

~

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LIVE Webinar next Tuesday December 6th!  How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption.  Can’t make it live?  All participants will receive a recording of the webinar to watch as often as you’d like!  CLICK HERE!!!

Like what you read here?  To get even more support, click here to sign up for my monthly (or less) newsletter!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW is a child and family therapist in Austin, Texas specializing in adoption, trauma, and attachment counseling. She is the founder of the Central Texas Attachment & Trauma Center.

Resources to help talk to kids about adoption

November 8, 2016

My webinar on How to Talk About the Hard Truths in Adoption airs tonight and I wanted to put together a summary of a few of my blog articles for the attendees.  Whether or not you are attending tonight, here are a few of my past articles that addresses this sometimes complicated idea of how to talk about adoption with our kids.

When do I tell my child he is adopted?

Talk to kids about their adoption- part 1

Talk to kids about their adoption- part 2

Trauma Doesn’t Tell Time 

Linking together implicit and explicit information

You can still register for the webinar if you want!  It’s a two-part webinar with part one airing tonight.  Yes yes, I know it’s election day!  If you can’t pull yourself away from the news or need that time to make it out to vote, you can always listen to the recording!  The recording is sent to everyone who registers.

CLICK HERE to register!!

Hope to see you there!!

Robyn Gobbel, LCSW

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