“When he arrived, his main form of communication was to bite, hit, curse and pull hair.  … diagnosed with ADHD and possible fetal alcohol syndrome.”

I want to share this inspiring story

of a mother whose been practicing peaceful parenting under the most challenging circumstances –  Vickie.   I was so moved by her journey, I asked if I could share it.  Vickie’s story is a wonderful demonstration of empathic, patient, loving parenting in action and the positive impacts of creating this level of safety and security to a child.  No doubt the challenges and layers of healing will continue to surface, but it’s really clear that Vickie will keep finding it in her to give what needs to be given to keep deepening and strengthening the bonds in the family and repairing the trauma.

Vickie’s story: 

I recently had a neglected four-year-old boy placed with us.  We will finalize his adoption on August 30th. When he arrived, his main form of communication was to bite, hit, curse and pull hair.  His vocabulary was small, but many of the words he did use were cuss words. When he hit or bit me, I would give him a hug and say, oh I don’t like to be hit, I like hugs and kisses. Then I would ask him to tell me or show me what he wanted. I built his vocabulary by repeating to him everything he said to me and when he showed me what he wanted or needed, I would also communicate that to him in words.

I carried him around the house and said out loud what I was feeling and doing. 

I talked to him all the time just like I did when my other children were babies.  He now has the vocabulary of a seven year old.  His cuss words were replaced by appropriate words.  Each time he cussed (cursed), I would tell him a different word to use and we would practice using it.  He no longer cusses and is very proud to use his new words.  A couple of days ago, I began to count the number of kisses I was receiving, which months ago would have been bites, hits or pinches.  I received 92 kisses yesterday 🙂

You might also like to read “Helping children when they hit, push and bite” and “Aggression, why children lash out and what to do“.

I had to attach to this child as if he was a newborn. 

He missed out on so many natural opportunities which should have driven his development.  I have been very blessed with an ability to read people and understand how to positively deal with them. I am going to download that book right after this comment (Genevieve recommended Vickie reads “The Boy who was Raised as a Dog” by Dr Bruce Perry).  His doctors referred to him as a container baby…. Kept in his crib, cars seat, highchair, bouncy seat, and he was also closed in his playroom or bedroom with inadequate amounts of interaction and touch.  This little guy was diagnosed with ADHD, Possible autism and possible fetal alcohol syndrome. 

The first time I met him I noticed the light behind his eyes.  I told his caseworker that he was valuable and I would help him to become the best person he was able to become no matter what his organic brain issues were.  We now doubt he has any long term brain disorders and are so proud of how far he has come since his placement with us.

Love, security, a sense of value and belonging and a chance to shine were the keys which unlocked his brain

and allowed for growth to take place. I remember telling people who were always ready to ‘make’ him mind, that he is four years old and very bright, he will choose the right behavior if you show him what it is and give him time to decide.  It took consistency and a great amount of patience. just this morning he was asking to have a turn on my IPad, instead of grabbing for it and begging as he usually did, he said “mommy, I will sit here and be patient while you take your turn. And then can it be my turn?” Another success! 

When he arrived he was very ‘independent’ and for example would just run off… My friends would attempt to grab him and bring him to me.  I would have to educate that he is capable of following my directions, he needs a moment or two to process.  Usually, it would take three times calling his name and asking him to come and stand by mommy.  After the third time, he would turn around and say “ok, I will”. … I believe his family thinking he was damaged and wild (all their doing through neglect and complacency) would do everything for him instead of teaching him to be self-controlled and self-helping.

The first three months were crazy hectic and nerve-racking for him and for the rest of the family. 

When he arrived at our home three years and ten months old… He still slept in a crib, drank from a bottle, used a pacifier and wore diapers. They said he won’t stay in his room, he is too lazy to potty train, he needs his pacifier to fall asleep, and he can not drink out of a cup or use a straw because he can not control his hands.  Well we placed him in his own twin bed, he quit needing his pacifier the fourth night he was here, stayed in his room unless he needed me, drank first out of a sippy cup, then a cup with a straw and about a week later out of a regular cup at the table. He was completely potty trained three months later, and I did not even attempt to train him the first two months. It is so much easier when a child is clumsy or the parent is in a hurry, or the child is being stubborn or defiant to simply get the job done and do it for him.

But that only tells the child that they are not capable and that you do not have much faith in them or that you simply do not care to put the time in to teach them the things they need to learn in order to grow. We became a well-oiled machine, we put the time in and were consistent and loving…

We built him up. interestingly around the fourth month we heard him laugh, belly laugh… The worried look left his face, many of his OCD symptoms went by the wayside and he became a happy, funny, talkative little guy. There is still a lot of work ahead, but he is definitely worth it!”

Shared by Genevieve Simperingham

Genevieve Simperingham is a Psychosynthesis Counsellor, a Parenting Instructor and coach, public speaker, human rights advocate, writer and the founder of The Peaceful Parent Institute.  Check out her articles, Peaceful Parenting eCourses, forums and one-year Peaceful Parenting Instructor Training through this website or join over 90,000 followers on her Facebook page The Way of the Peaceful Parent.
  1. Christine 11 years ago

    Hi Vickie
    Thank you so so much for sharing this very beautiful and inspiring story.
    I am wondering I’d you might be available to talk with me regarding a question I have related to this? Thank you
    Christine 978-870-2955

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