Sometimes You Just Have to Laugh…

 

“Humor is to get us over terrible things.” —Ricky Gervais

I wrote about this a few months ago, but I find myself wanting to revisit it. Because it’s true. Laughter really can be the best medicine. And sometimes you just have to laugh. To keep from crying or screaming. Maybe to keep from giving up or giving in when you know you need to stand firm. Sometimes what your RAD kiddo thinks is the most horrible, awful thing they can say or do is really just hilarious in the big picture of everything that’s been done. As time goes on in parenting a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder your perspective changes a lot.

When August was little we tried to find humor in his actions as much as possible. It got harder as he got older and more aggressive but some of the earlier behaviors were just hysterical. Before we recognized it as hoarding, watching him walk around the house with an old cell phone charger attached to a hair brush, a hanger, a small plastic truck, another old cell phone charger and a toy phone all dragging behind him was delightful. He’d have intense conversations on the phone in a language known only to him (not even Russian) then bring the whole mess to a chair in the family room and pile it on. That was his stuff and his chair and you touched it at your own peril. 

A couple years later for some reason he got scared about someone breaking into his room. Again, not funny but the way he handled it made it hard not to giggle a little. He set up booby-traps on the window ledges of his room which were a variety of miscellaneous things that any intruder would knock over on entry. He also had a bag of Doritos and a spork (yes, a spork) on which he had drawn faces. These were protectors. They had names and they stayed by the bed always to guard against anyone coming in to snatch him. And then there was a prolonged period of sleeping in his closet. We never figured out what triggered this period but eventually it subsided and he went back to sleeping in bed and I believe the Doritos got eaten.

The point of these couple of stories is that our RAD kiddos are always throwing us curve balls. Each child is different due to what they have been through and how they react in different situations. Their triggers are different and we spend a lot of time in “trial and error” parenting, not always knowing what the outcome of our decisions will be. A sense of humor can be one of the best coping mechanisms we can use to get us through when one of those curve balls hits us right between the eyes. It can diffuse a tense situation; it can also help us remember that maybe that situation isn’t as bad as we may think.

So, I jumped on the Internet and searched for “Funny RAD stories” to find other examples from other blogs or sites of when RAD kiddos had done things that made their parents or grandparents giggle. Not surprisingly, that’s not what people who write about Reactive Attachment Disorder devote any time to. Which is unfortunate. So instead, you get a site of funny parenting moments which shows that all parents have times when their kiddos do things that make you tear your hair out. But you just have to laugh. For a little laugh break, click here.

So bad…

My recommendation is find the funny. August is hilarious. And frustrating, aggressive, explosive, impulsive and exhausting. But as all parents do, we try to find the best in our children; make the best of the bad situations. And laugh!

Until next time,

Shannon

Vacations with RAD Kiddos

So you have a sweet, adorable boy of let’s say, six. And while he’s charming and fun and hilarious and lovable in so many ways, he’s also prone to impulsive actions. Like he’ll push any button that he sees. And he grabs at things. And he can’t figure out “inside voice”. He doesn’t like transitions, so making him pack up or stop a movie or move is an ordeal. In addition, he’s got a quick temper which doesn’t mean he just gets angry. He rages. Red-faced, screaming, hitting, cursing, throwing things fits if things don’t happen like he wants. And you can’t calm him down because he won’t let you. He blames you for not giving him what he wants and doesn’t trust you. Let’s get in an economy middle seat with 200 other passengers for a four-hour plane ride.

Maybe you decide to drive instead.

Now this same child is also fearless. Since he doesn’t trust you, he also doesn’t feel like he needs you. Except for money which he wants all the time for everything because he does feel that his love can be bought. Which is the source of constant conflict even with an 8-year-old. Because he’s super smart and manipulative and sometimes if his love is for sale, you’re buying if it’s the only way it can happen because you’re so desperate for it. Then you try and be the good parent and instill some values and say “no” so the conflicting signals aren’t helpful and you’re back at square one. But the fearless, control-freak child isn’t phased and he’s just as strong-willed as ever and could carry on whether you’re there or not. Except for the money. Let’s take this child to Disney World.

Maybe we’ll just go to the pool.

Yes, of course what I have just described was my own story. And the trips didn’t go quite as horribly as I described but they had their moments. The plane trip was heading home from visiting back East when we lived in Oregon. We flew out of Indianapolis and it involved a short hop to Chicago then a long flight to Portland. We got stuck on the tarmac in Indy for over an hour on a small-ish commuter plane. My younger son was not quite two so we were waiting as long as possible to pay for a seat for him but he was a big boy and a walker. We weren’t all seated together so he wanted to walk back to his Dad and August and while doing so fell and busted open his lip. Blood dripping down his sweatshirt. When we finally got to Chicago, we’d missed our connection and had to wait for the next flight which we weren’t sure we could get on. We were wait-listed. So we had two small children, one with blood on his shirt. August, because he didn’t like transitions, peed in his pants twice. And because I’m the ever-hopeful mother, all his meds were carefully stored in our checked luggage. We even tried to go get them from the baggage guys. He was the one guy who assured us we’d get home that night.

Disney was after we’d moved back East. We were smart enough to drive! We went to the park every day plus the other parks. We blew it out! And everyone got tired, and cranky. And then it started. The boys fought. Their dad got mad at the fighting. I got mad at that. August has an endless amount of energy and when we all ran out of steam he was so mad that we couldn’t keep up. His brother didn’t like the big rides and August got mad that those weren’t the only ones we rode. It was all about him. And then trying to keep up with him. He didn’t understand how scary it was there. His fearlessness was terrifying because he didn’t need us around (except for the aforementioned money). He did want company on the big rides which was nice but honestly he would have be OK either way.

The points of these stories is that vacations with RAD kiddos can be rough. So you need to consider what they are capable of and more importantly what you are capable of. Here are the best tips I can share:

  • Be Realistic: You know what you can manage. And you know what they can manage. And they may be seeing all their friends going off to Disney but if that’s not going to create a good memory for your family, don’t set yourself up for failure.
  • Keep It Simple: Even if you do go to Disney, you can do it in a way that minimizes the stimulus and chaos. You don’t have to do all the parks. You don’t have to go every day. You don’t have to go all day every day. Make sure you are taking your child’s issues into account when you are planning your vacations so that things like transitions, medication times, schedules stay as close to normal as possible. This makes for the best possible outcome.
  • Invite Extended Family: Ok, for some of you I might have said the thing that would make your vacation horrific! But, there is also the “many hands make light work” philosophy. Especially if you have other children. Asking grandma to come along so that she can take the other children to the zoo one day while you take the RAD kiddo to the pool can help everyone have a good time.
  • Take Care of Yourself: Make sure you are keeping yourself healthy. Mentally, physically, spiritually. Remember you are taking yourself out of your comfortable space as well when you go on vacation. Take some quiet time to read or meditate, bring essential oils or candles, whatever will keep you calm and centered during this hectic time.

I’d love to hear your ideas for how to handle successful vacations with your RAD kiddos or your funny travel tales!

Until next time,

Shannon

Summer Reading List

So yesterday we talked about how to get your children to keep the learning going all summer long. You know what is one of the best ways to keep them interested in learning? Modeling the behavior you want to see. And that’s never more true than with reading. There are so many ways to encourage your children to be better, more informed readers by reading yourself. So to help with that, I’ve put together a list of some of my and my friends-courtesy of Goodreads favorite books of the moment to get your summer reading habit started off right!

  • Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story by Jacob Tobia
    This book won’t be for everyone. Amazon describes it as “A heart-wrenching, eye-opening, and giggle-inducing memoir about what it’s like to grow up not sure if you’re (a) a boy, (b) a girl, (c) something in between, or (d) all of the above.” And the New York Times compares Jacob with the likes of David Sedaris and Mindy Kaling. It’s profane and blunt so if you have weak sensibilities it might not be for you. I put this one first because I’ve known Jacob for years and they are one of the most amazing people I know. You want to get to know them too.
  • Do It Scared: Finding the Courage to Face Your Fears, Overcome Adversity, and Create a Life You Love by Ruth Soukup
    I’m not suggesting that you do work over the summer. This book isn’t work. Though it does rPerfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.equire some thinking and maybe getting out of your comfort zone more than a little bit. But the summer is always a good time for reflection and that is a lot of what this book is about. If you have always wanted to start something new or are stuck in something old that just isn’t fulfilling anymore, this book is for you. If you need to understand why you have taken that step to make your big dream a reality, this book is for you. This blog is my big dream and reality is scary, let me tell you! But it’s better than not pursing that dream at all.
  • Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens
    “Perfect for fans of Barbara Kingsolver and Karen Russell, Where the Crawdads Sing is at once an exquisite ode to the natural world, a heartbreaking coming-of-age story, and a surprising tale of possible murder. Owens reminds us that we are forever shaped by the children we once were, and that we are all subject to the beautiful and violent secrets that nature keeps.” – Goodreads
    I like this book because it is set in North Carolina and because it deals with childhood trauma. Two things I know a lot about!
  • Bless Your Heart Tramp: And Other Southern Endearments by Celia Rivenbark
    I have read absolutely everything Celia Rivenbark has written. She is hands down hilarious. And this one is the best. If you want an inside trace on the perfect eccentricities of being perfectly Southern, this is give you all you need to know. From why the word snow make a family of four buy eight gallons of milk and 12 loaves of bread to many more secrets revealed. It will have you laughing out loud at the beach!

So this will give you a good start on your lazy summer days while maybe actually getting some motivation to make some change for good! Have an enjoyable cozy reading time!

Until next time,

Shannon

Summer “School”?

Ahh summer break. Brings joy to the hearts of school children everywhere and terror to the already weary parents who’ve endured a school year of homework supervision, lunch packing, carpooling, classroom parenting, reading prompting, field trip volunteering, awards ceremony attendance and now have their precious littles all day every day for 10 weeks and counting…

But the reality is that students lose 20-50% of what they learn in the previous school year over the summer. Isn’t that incredible? And when you add on that in this day and age that the last 3-4 months of most school year’s anymore are teaching to standardized tests I wouldn’t be surprised if it isn’t more than that. So maybe we want the summer to be more productive? Maybe we want to keep some momentum through to the next school year? But maybe we don’t want to go crazy in the process?

The idea of “teaching” your own children is probably daunting for most parents. The idea of “teaching” your own children over the summer probably doesn’t sound like much fun. If you’re a parent of a RAD child, the idea of combining those two probably sounds like the worst idea imaginable! I don’t blame you. When my boys were little, and before some of the ideas I will share in this post, I got workbooks and all sorts of tools to keep them learning through the summer. And getting August to do a few workbook pages and spend half an hour reading every day was like asking him to pull out his own fingernails. He would do almost anything rather than schoolwork. He would do chores, that’s how much he hated it!

So the key is to find ways to make learning happen while “hiding” it in plain sight. Luckily, the technology world is here to the rescue! The following is a list of some of the best ways to get your kids, RAD or not, to do some learning over the summer and head back to school without missing a beat!

  • Freerice.com
    If you only find one place to go this summer, this is it. This site has question to answer on language, geography, humanities, science and math. You can select the difficulty. But here’s the best part: for every correct question, the sponsors donate 10 grains of rice through the World Food Programme. You can watch the bowl fill up and see your progress. You can work as a team! My boys loved this one!
  • playkidsgames.com
    This site was developed by parents for children in grades 1-8 to enhance learning in math and reading. The games are fun and interactive. You can set up an account and your children can pick the games they want to play.

While websites are certainly easy and most children would love to spend the day on a computer or a phone, that’s of course not the best way to spend the summer! Here are some other creative ways to get your children to learn without them even knowing!

  • Let your children pay for groceries or other items during shopping trips. Give them a few dollars and a small list and let them figure out if they have enough money.
  • When driving, let your children practice reading by asking them to look for street signs to help navigate.
  • Do multiplication with spaghetti or sticks in the yard. Go pick 3×5 sticks; show me 3×2 pieces of macaroni.
  • Have your child write a dinner menu
  • Open ended questions are great for building vocabulary.
    I am happiest when…
    My favorite TV show is…because…
    When I feel angry I…
    A trip I’d like to take is…
    This is especially helpful with RAD children to get them talking!
  • Have your child retell a movie you go to see from beginning to end over dinner

There are lots of ways to incorporate learning into the summer that won’t drive you OR your child crazy! I will share more tips and tricks over the next few weeks every Tuesday so stay tuned for more fun ideas!

Until next time,

Shannon

Re-re-tooling

So it’s a new month and that means a new blog design, right? Yep. I did it. If you haven’t heard from me in a while that must be why. Well, of course it is! Much more of course than that has happened over the last few weeks so sit back and as Ricky Ricardo would say, “I’ve got some ‘splaining to do!”

I started this blog as mostly a labor of love. A catharsis for my own heart and mind. It then evolved as I wanted it to become a place where parents and extended families of children with Reactive Attachment disorder could come for comfort and resources and connection. Most of the RAD sites I found had been live for a few years and then fizzled out. I imagined the parents stopped either because the children healed (hopefully!) or it got overwhelming or they just got older and the topic got harder to write about. But I couldn’t find anything newer than a couple years ago. But I am interacting with families going through this daily right now and children in the foster care system (one of the primary producers of children with RAD) aren’t going anywhere.

So I doubled down on my efforts to create this site, this space for those families. I started a course to learn how to blog successfully. I am creeping through it but I am learning how to write more effectively to my target audience, how to get found through the chaos of the great world wide blogosphere and much more. Not to say that I do not love the continued support of you all who have been with me since the early early days as I have built this chrysalis. But I am now ready to become a butterfly!

A couple of changes I am planning to make. First of these Monday posts will be changing from “All About Me” to “Mindfulness Monday”. This is for a few reasons. First, self-care doesn’t have to be just about yourself. It can be about helping others. It can be about learning how to communicate with your partner. It can be about finding ways to get motivated to get things done. It can be about caring for something you care about. Anything that brings you peace and calm is self-care. Also, I hope to invite some friends in to write more posts. Not because I don’t like to write or don’t have a lot to say. Anyone who’s met me knows that! But through my blogging course and other networking I have met some amazing folks with some amazing talents that you all just have to get to know!

So where has all this great new boldness come from? Well, the same person who wrote the blogging course, Ruth Soukup, just came out with a book called “Do It Scared”. And the message of the book is…well, the title. But the beginning of the book starts with an online analysis of what kind of fear predominantly drives you to avoid doing the big things in your life. Mine was procrastinator. Not the kind of procrastinator that puts off things till the last minute (though I certainly can fit that description too). But the everything has to be just right, research over output, needs to be perfect before it starts type of procrastination. Which explains why I’ve redone this blog so much. I just can’t get to where I think I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. But I’m jumping in anyway and I’m going to keep going regardless. I highly recommend the book. You can find it at bookstores, with your prime subscription or your Target addiction.

Keeping this in line with the theme of this blog, last Monday was “Gotcha Day”, the 18th anniversary of the day August’s adoption was legal. I remember it like it was yesterday. Standing in the courtroom in the run-down building in Monchegorsk while a lot of people talked very fast in Russian and then WHAM! I was a mom. Then two days later, a child I had spent all of fours hours with who didn’t speak the same language as me was placed in my arms to be my child forever. Talk about doing it scared.

This week I will go visit him. It will involve a pat down and metal detectors and walls with metal bars and locks and thick steel doors and guards with guns. I can give him one hug and kiss and I have to wait while he’s strip-searched before and after our visit. Talk about doing it scared.

But I did and will do both of these things for my son who is my forever child now and always.

Until next time,

Shannon

Spring Cleaning…Episode Two

It continues to feel like Spring around here so maybe last week wasn’t a fluke. I actually got some seeds started in the greenhouse yesterday. Might need to bring them inside as it might get a little too cold later this week, but I remain hopeful. Still has been too wet to get the big garden tilled, but it’s looking like the grass will need mowing soon which is a weekly chore and competition between me and my neighbors that I routinely lose. My neighbor to the East is retired and she mows twice a week which I just can’t do. My neighbor to the West has a zero-turn mower which mows twice as fast as my John Deere. In my defense I have twice as much property. But I’m also lazy. But to this week’s Spring Cleaning topic…Appliances. Don’t worry, we’re not covering everything, just the kitchen. And the neat part is these are great chores to involve the kiddos; even the RAD kiddos. There are a lot of easy jobs and even some fun things to do which they will (might!) enjoy. And if it still happens to be raining or if you’re in the part of the country where the huge snowstorm is still blowing through and your Spring is a ways off, will keep you occupied till you can get outside again. Dishwasher

  1. Clean the Interior: To remove buildup, mix two Tablespoons of baking soda with 16 ounces of water in a microwave-safe bowl and heat for a couple of minutes. Transfer to a spray bottle. Spritz the inside of the appliance, the door interior, and the rim. Wipe clean with a microfiber cloth. Dishes coming out grimy? Soak the filter (inside the dishwasher’s base) for an hour in a sinkful of hot water plus a scoop of dish powder. Scrub the mesh with a small brush and rinse. 
  2. Clear the cutlery container: Shake the basket upside down over a trash can to jostle out any debris. Okay, this tip sounded nasty to me because hopefully we all see this stuff in our cutlery containers when we empty them and deal with it then but here it is…
  3. Flush out impurities: When the dishwasher is empty, pour 1/4 cup baking soda into the detergent dispenser and run a rinse cycle on the hottest temperature.
  4. Remove residue: Use a vinegar-dampened cloth to clean out the detergent dispenser and wipe down the spray arms.
Oven Range
  1. Disinfect: If your oven is self-cleaning, follow the manufacturer’s how-to. If it’s not, wipe the interior with a damp cloth. To soften caked on gunk, fill a casserole dish halfway with water, add the juice of 3 lemons plus the rinds, and bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Let cool for 15 minutes, then apply a paste of baking soda and water to all sides with a non-abrasive sponge. Wet the sponge in the lemon water, then scrub. Wipe clean with a damp paper towel.
  2. Vacuum up debris: Pull the unit away from the wall and, using the hose attachment, remove the crumbs and dust from the floor. Push it back in. This is always a scary one!
  3. Scrub the stove top: Apply a paste of equal parts baking soda and dish soap plus a few drops of water. (This is safe on any cooktop, electric or gas-check manufacturer’s instructions on ceramic). Let sit for 10 minutes, then wipe thoroughly with a damp cloth. Buff dry.
  4. Refresh the racks: Place the racks and grates in a plastic garbage bag, spray generously  with a degreasing cleaner (like Simple Green), and tie the bag closed. Let sit for 1 hour, then rinse each piece in a sink filled with hot soapy water.
  5. Wash the exhaust: To degrease the overhead filter, remove it and soak it for 15 minutes in a sink filled with hot water and scoop of OxiClean. Rinse and dry. Next, clean the piece on the wall: Apply a paste of baking soda and dish soap and let sit for 10 minutes. Wipe clean with a soft sponge and buff dry.
Refrigerator
  1. Empty it out: Remove all items and toss any that have expired. My boys always loved finding the really nasty things in the way back of our fridge!
  2. Sanitize the drawers: Take them out (shelves too, if detachable) and scrub every side with a sponge dipped in warm, soapy water. Sprinkle baking soda  on any stubborn spots and scrub again. Rinse and pat dry. If your refrigerator has a removable drip pan, soak it for a few minutes in hot, soapy water, scrub with a sponge, then rinse.
  3. Deoderize: Get rid of odors by wiping the inside walls with a microfiber cloth spritzed with an all-purpose cleaner. Wipe again using a paper towel dipped in a bowl of diluted vanilla extract.
  4. Remove dust: Using the brush attachment, vacuum the coils, which may be behind the refrigerator. Wipe down the grille (typically at the base) with a dryer sheet.
  5. Clean the gaskets: Use the soapy water from the shelf-scrubbing to wipe down the refrigerator gaskets (door seals). When they’re dry, apply a bit of petroleum jelly to prevent sticking and tearing.
  6. Restock: Insert the clean shelves and drawers. To avoid gunking them up with anything sticky or dusty, wipe the bottom of each item with a damp towel before putting it back.
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing more satisfying (and calming!) than seeing a clean refrigerator. But for some reason that’s not enough motivation to clean it! But I promise next Spring Cleaning Episode, I will show you a picture of my clean fridge as motivation. Feel free to send me yours! Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

Jealousy…

When Harry Met Sally. And if you haven’t seen the whole movie, what’s wrong with you? But it’s the scene in the restaurant where Sally convinces Harry that maybe, just maybe, not all of the girls he’s been with have had actual orgasms. That maybe some of them were faking it. She proceeds to show him how they might have done that. Right there in the restaurant. Now that part of the scene is hilarious but immediately afterward, a sweet little old lady-played by the director Rob Reiner’s mother in case you didn’t know-delivers one of the best lines of the film. To give you a little Monday giggle and make sure you read the rest of today’s blog, here’s the clip. The point of that little story is jealousy. We’ve all felt it. That little (or big) green monster has reared its ugly head probably more times than we want to confess. There’s always times when it seems a relative or a neighbor or a friend or a co-worker has it all together and you just can’t measure up. When you’re a parent with a RAD kiddo, it seems like it’s happening ALL THE TIME. When August started having school trouble, my jealousy stayed in check pretty well. I mean, shouldn’t people feel sorry for me and my sweet injured boy who is struggling so? Then we had to hold him back a year in school and then the run-ins with the law started and somehow his sweet injured self wasn’t so cute anymore. And as much I tried to keep myself from it, I started to feel jealous of parents in church and in my neighborhood who didn’t have to worry about taking their child to his probation meetings on Saturday mornings or the alcohol diversion program at 13 years old. And fast forward to today, I have just in the last month shared with my new church family that August is in prison. I’m watching friends from high school become grandparents and announce their children’s college graduations and weddings. And here creeps that large green monster once again who robs me of being able to feel true joy for them in the midst of my grief. Not surprisingly, today is again an attempt to provide you all with some helpful tips that just maybe by typing them I will get some help for myself in the process. Here are five ways to handle jealousy when it whacks you upside the head (which may not be what it feels like to you, but does to me!)

  1. Be a copycat. When something wonderful happens to a friend and you are immediately jealous, use that. Follow your friend’s example. Maybe you walked into your friend’s house and she’s completely renovated her kitchen. You may not be able to do that but you can change something that will make you happy. Buy new hand towels or a new curtain. If a friend is going on a luxurious cruise, plan a fun weekend getaway. Do something similar enough to make you happy.
  2. Practice gratitude on social media. Holy moly do NOT compare your life to someone’s life on Facebook! That is for sure a recipe for disaster! Studies have shown a direct connection between depressive symptoms and the longer time people spent on social media. So use social media, but spend some time using it to be grateful, do some “Today I’m grateful for…” posts. It might lighten your perspective and you might enjoy the responses!
  3. Focus on your strengths. One of the things I have to keep reminding myself through everything with August is that he’s alive. And he’s healthy. Everything else feels like a hug parenting fail, yes. But now I’m trying to turn my experiences into something useful for other people and hopefully over time I’ll have more lessons to share as August and I continue to grow and heal. Spend time doing what you are good at and what makes you feel good when you don’t feel like you measure up in some other way.
  4. Wallow-briefly-then move on. Be a good friend to yourself. A friend wouldn’t let you stay in a negative space; so follow your friend’s advice. Have a little pity party then get up off the mat and get back to thinking good positive thoughts. Thinking positive is a much better space to operate from and it will serve you much better in the long run.
  5. Don’t hate, congratulate! There’s enough happiness on the planet for everybody. My favorite saying is, “It’s not pie.” If you stay jealous and angry you will miss all the good things waiting for you. And you will miss out on good times with those friends and your kiddos and they will miss out on the wonderful that is you. Let them have their moments and be first in line to applaud.
I’m not for one moment going to say this is last time I’ll ever be jealous now. I will say that even writing this makes me feel lighter about how I feel about my own situation so I hope it might be helpful to one or two of you. If so, let me know in the comments, that’s what they’re for! Till next time, Shannon    ]]>

Where's All My Money Go? Oh Yeah…

Two weeks from today I will be visiting colleges with my younger son. A blessed event to be sure but also one that strikes fear into the heart of many parents. How do I pay for it? Please don’t let him like the out-of-state one! With August, the money woes started long before that. I have told him since an early age he will never have two nickels to rub together. The concept of saving any money he ever got has never been an option. It all needed to be spent immediately. The lack of impulse control and need for immediate gratification was just too much. Trying to explain that if he waited to add his Christmas money from his NC relatives to his Christmas money from his Ohio relatives to buy something even better was like trying to explain how to build a space shuttle. And we were lucky enough to be fairly financially secure so he thought the money for whatever he wanted would just be there. If not in cash, then on one of those credit card things…no matter that those card things had to be paid for someday! I’m not sure how he handled his affairs in the couple of years he was living on the streets before he was incarcerated. I know a little of how he made his money. Not the best choices. He tried a job once. Lasted three days. I even helped him open a bank account. He’s drained the money from the savings account we had for him as a child, where we insisted half of any birthday money go as a way to teach saving when he was little. When he wanted to get his own place his father and I ran the numbers with him multiple times on what it took to live on his own. He kept saying that wasn’t how much it really cost. Maybe as his pre-frontal cortex continues to develop that aspect of his behavior will grow. But I fear his impulsiveness will always run the show. But for those RAD parents out there who may have that battle yet to wage, I have these tips for teaching money sense to your kiddos! Preschoolers & Early Elementary (7 & Under) Think about it like tying shoes…it’s one of those things that you learn at this age and you have to practice.

  1. Communicate about money: Don’t hide your discussions about money. Don’t discuss your stress about not having enough to pay the bills but if you get a sweet deal on shoes or you’ve saved enough for a family trip to an amusement park, share the celebration as a family. And use the money terms (“save”, “share”, “choose”) and financial values (“save for a rainy day”) so they understand how you view and value money.
  2. Involve them in your shopping: When you recognize a good deal and verbalize it, it shows your child that you see the value and are making a decision about buying it. At checkout, let the child buy something themselves, hand over the cash and all. One of the biggest problems we had with August when he was little was explaining to him that a $20 bill was better than having $18 one-dollar bills. He just wouldn’t buy it. He liked have more bills. This resulted in the purchase of a Nintendo handheld game thing one year with $150+ dollar bills and a very pissed off GameStop cashier.
  3. Open a savings account: As I mentioned above, we set the rule of half of birthday money going into a savings account. The boys balked at first but they caught on and they became cool with it (at least in public) and got good at the math when they got money!
  4. Play Games: Duck Duck Moose, Bringing Home the Bacon, or even playing with a calculator while you shop and adding up the price of what is bought. Seeing the total will help them realize the actual costs of things.
Older Elementary Kids & Tweens (8-12) These children can begin earning money and developing personalities around money and you’ll learn which of your children are spenders (August) and which are savers.
  1. Brainstorm ways to earn: They won’t care about managing your money but they will care about managing money they earn. Help them think about their passions and talents. Love animals? How about walking neighbors’ dogs or pet sitting? If they are crafty how about making something to sell? They can research and create a business plan figuring out how much to charge by looking at others doing the same thing in the market, considering costs and figuring out what they need to make a profit.
  2. Talk about spending choices: One of the hardest things to do will be to talk about what to spend the money they earn on without criticism. The positive reinforcement of good choices is more important than the punishment of bad ones but you can begin to talk about wants versus needs. If you are out and your child wants a toy you weren’t going to buy and you say OK, make sure they know it’s their money they’re spending not yours. It will be coming out of their savings account. That’s a powerful lesson.
  3. Be positive about your job: This may be where I lose some of you. I know there are days when going to work may be the last thing you want to do. Or you may be working because you have to or for the benefits. But kids need to feel excited about the idea of earning money and what it allows them to do so paint on that smile!
  4. Model Philanthropic Behavior: Even if it’s a stretch to the budget, let kids see you helping those less fortunate. Remember that kids see everything and will take those behaviors into adulthood. Even if it’s some spare change into the Salvation Army bucket at the holidays. And ask them for input into your charitable giving choices. If they want to give their money too, let them be part of the conversation.
Teens & College-bound kids (13+) Now is the time to begin to involve your kids in your family’s financial situation. This is especially true when conversations about college get closer. Talking about credit scores and applying for financial aid and scholarships should be open discussions.
  1. Track dollars: There’s an app for that! Current is great one which has spending, saving and giving “wallets” tied to a debit card which parents can make deposits to and set up notifications for. However it is tracked, make sure there’s a conversation that follows so they can see where their money goes. As for credit cards, most experts say not until they have their own source of income and can make their own payments.
  2. Play “What If?”: Discuss tricky money situations and how to handle them. Who pays on dates? How do you decide? What if your date’s family is super-rich? While there may be no right or wrong answer, having the conversations will help your child become more savvy about the situations.
I know this is a lot to take in but you really only need the parts that apply to your child’s age! Money has been and always will be a monster to deal with and RAD does not make it any easier. I’d love to hear from anyone who’s found tips or tricks that have worked for them in handling money with their kiddos! Till next time, Shannon  ]]>

It's Spring…Maybe

The last few days (except for Saturday when it SNOWED) have been as close to Spring as we’ve seen here in the Midwest so I’m gonna call it. It’s Spring. I’ve been in touch with the guy who tills my big garden and I’m starting seeds this weekend and my clematis vines are sprouting so those are the signs I needed. Oh, and the sweet kids next door left a daffodil on my back steps (I think it might have been one of mine but nevertheless…). In honor of Spring, this is the beginning of a Wednesday series on Spring Cleaning. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this is one of the, “Those who can’t blog about it” ones. I haven’t by far done all of these things, nor do I expect I will get to all of them. But writing them down makes me want to get them all on a to-do list. And you’ll see that many of them can be done with VERY active RAD kiddos so they are a nice way to get the family involved. But there are some that are just for you, for your sanity, so make sure you focus on those as well. And that’s where we start.

Spring Clean Your Mind written by Margaret Townsend Take a minute to think about what’s supporting your body right now-the chair or the sofa you’re sitting on and the ground below your feet. Much of the time, we use more energy than we need to hold our bodies up. Learning to really sink into physical support can calm nerves, soothe emotions, and relax the mind. First, become aware of your feet against the floor. Place them in a comfortable, natural spot and press them into the ground a bit to feel your leg muscles tighten. Then let those muscles relax completely, allowing the floor to hold up your legs and feet. Next, notice your back against the chair. Tense up your shoulders for a couple of seconds, then release them. Notice the parts of your back that are in contact with the chair. You don’t have to hold up those muscles right now. Breathe comfortably and give in to gravity, letting the chair support you. Allow your body to feel held for a moment. Take time to enjoy that feeling. Become aware of what else changes when you simply let the chair and the ground hold you up. You might feel a softening in the belly, hips, and breath. Also notice what you may be “holding up” that doesn’t need holding. Your jaw, for instance. What happens if you soften it? Luxuriate in the support that is right here, right now. Spend a minute or two experiencing it, breathing naturally-falling into gravity and letting the effort drop away.

vernal-equinox-happy-spring-day

 
Use this as often as you need to calm your body and clear your brain. Till next time, Shannon  ]]>