Beyondpondering's Weblog

Northwest Arkansas Therapy


I am so tormented be the recent news from my state.

I am so sorry for the child.

I am also so sorry for the adoptive parents who, undoubtedly, must have felt so helpless and hopeless.

No adoptive parent adopts a child with the intent of sending that child away to be sexually abused.

I would say for the most part, adoptive parents adopt out of a deep longing to help a child.

And there really isn’t help “out there” for parents after the adoption.

I have said before, and will say again…

That other adoptive mother,,, who sent her adoptive son back to Russia, probably came to the conclusion that that action was the most merciful; send him back to his own language, own culture, to the food he understood,to the things with which he was familiar…..

and she could not find the help she needed.


Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) January 24, 2015

I would like to elaborate on this using knowledge of biology as to what happens when we experience fear; THEN LET US CONSIDER OUR FOSTER OR ADOPTED CHILDREN.

When we are faced with a tiger, or we encounter any kind of trauma, grief, rejection of a loved one and so forth, the body floods the system with adrenaline, the hormone of strenuous action and fear or fight. This hormone helps us to deal with the ‘danger’.

Adrenaline activates the Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS) which is a sub-branch of the Autonomic Nervous System.

It controls specific bodily organs to prepare us for fight or flight. These reactions are BEYOND THE CONTROL OF OUR CONSCIOUSNESS. These unconscious reactions can be responsible for weird physiological symptoms.

The SNS dilates pupils of our eyes, shuts down the digestive organs, increases heart palpitations, relaxes the smooth muscles of bronchi and bronchioles, leading to “breathing problems”.

The smooth muscles of the digestive tract are inhibited, so peristalsis stops, sphincter of the bladder also contracts and the bladder wall relaxes. This may lead to involuntary defecation, also known as encopresis.

HMMMMMMMMMM. So some of the problems our kids have are subconscious?

Maybe we need to consider the “CONTROL” concept.  Maybe they are not out to control us!

Are they trying to control us or is something happening beyond their control?


Why are there no support groups? November 24, 2014

“Why are there no support groups?”, I was asked by one mother of a RAD kid….

I quickly retorted….Because there is too much embarrassment and shame….No adoptive parent adopts with this in mind……
They are too embarrassed because their child is always a perfect angel at someone else’s house…
No one knows about the anger directed towards you; the yelling, screaming directed towards you; and the pain involved.
They are too ashamed because they get so many critical looks reflecting that they should “just spank the kid”;
or give more consequences.
Or they get looks and comments which communicate that something must be something WRONG WITH YOU, as a parent, that you can not control your child.
Or just the opposite…..
They get too many looks or comments which communicate…
you are too hard on him, or all he needs is love;
but she is always so polite at my house…you just misunderstand him…..

I communicated to the mom to not be ashamed or embarrassed, for we are dealing with the one percent of the children, which nothing seems to work.
But there is hope if you are willing to try something different…and I would bet you are…or you would not be calling me now.



I go back to the same old questions:  Is it working for you?  Is doing what those so called experts say, really working?  When is it time to try something different?

You will just try to defend yourself out of fear someone will think you are a bad mom.  Or maybe you will just to defend yourself out of fear that it might be true.  You really do enjoy getting away from them.

The peace you feel when he is away seems to validate the assumption that it is “He” who is the problem.  There is something much much deeper going on.

The idea that RAD child should be treated differently is a start.  They have a developmental wound which cannot be helped to heal with more chores or strong sitting.

They have a developmental wound which cannot be helped to heal by being sent away.

A couple years ago,  I was working with a mother and  young daugther.  There was never any problems at school.  The problems occured at home.   I give this mom a round of applause for taking responsibility for her behavior years ago.  She left the children.  Yes she had her reasons…… but from a child’s point of view it was abandonment.  “I was not good enough for you to stick around.”  “I was not lovable enough for you to want to stay with me”.

We had a breakthrough mom said.    I was amazed at something else.

We were all sitting on the floor.  There was soft comforting lighting rather than glaring florescent tubes.  I was verbalizing what a young child might feel if a parent went away.  Little by little the child leaned her head on her mother’s shoulder.  Little by little the child wrapped her arms around mother’s neck.  Little by little, the child crawled into mother’s lap.  Little by little, mother cradled the girl in her arms and started rocking her body back and forth.  The girl nestled her head into mom’s bosom and allowed herself to be rocked.

I kept quiet and allowed the two to rest in each other’s arms for a good long time.

I whispered to mom,  “How old was she when you left?”  Mom whispered, “One and a half.”

The behavior of the child was reminiscent of the age of her trauma.

I helped mom see the developmental issues going on.

A rocking chair and more rocking at home……………. was the recommendation.

This addressed the heart of the matter, not just the acting out behavior.  Work on the heart of the matter and the acting out will subside.

These kids need even more rocking, more comforting, more compassion, more empathy….  Or at least just as much.   Because they are RAD does that mean they should be treated differently when it comes to Tender Loving Care?   They need it even more because they have a develpment lag in that department.

If what you are doing is working for you….by all means…..continue with what you think is right.  However,  begin reflecting on how you can address the heart of the matter rather than just manage the behavior.



Does it often feel like you are continually talking to yourself whenever you are trying to teach your child?  Whatever you are saying is simply going in one ear and out the other?  If you’ve said it once you have said it a million times. ?   AND STILL THEY DON’T  ” GET IT”. 

Well there is a reason for it……. and if you understand this reason ,, you could actually get more done with less talking.   You don’t have to drive yourself in circles, repeating the old thing, trying to change the same old behavior. 

Based on neuro-science, the right side of the brain has the ability to override and short circuit the left side of the brain.  The right side of the brain is the emotional side.  The left side of the brain is the logical rational side,,,,to put is simply. 

If the left side of the brain can be short circuited by the right side, no wonder all our explanations, talking, corrections, or discussions do not seem to work.

Our logical rational explanations, meant to impact our child’s left side of the brain, are not reaching their intended target. 


The right side of the brain overrides the left.  Emotions override logic and learning.

Right brain has greater influence than left brain.   RIGHT, greater than LEFT, therefore decreased logic & learning.

Children do not have the ability to learn and use logic if their emotional state is not addressed first.  Likewise, we do not have the ability to reach their logic and learning until we address their emotions and feelings.

Why don’t we listen to our own  words of wisdom.   Be logical.  Be reasonable.  It makes no sense at all to use logic on our kids if science has shown that logic does not work if emotional aspects are neglected. 

So how logical are we?  Maybe our kids are smarter than we are.  We keep trying logic when it has been proven not to work.  Now that is irrational. 

To keep doing the same old thing expecting different results.   Isn’t that the definition of CRAZY?

 We are in the habit of talking talking talking….explaining explaining, explaining. 

We lecture, make demands, and expect our kids to comply.  We expect from our kids what they are not able to give us until we see through to their emotions.

What do we do then?  Put into words what our adult wisdom knows

For example, your friend comes over,  slams the door, and heavily plants themselves on your couch. 

What can you presume from what just happened with your friend.  Your friend is upset, something bad happened, something is wrong……?  Probably.   

We would sit and wait.  Perhaps offer a cola or cup of tea.  And we would listen.  

If our kids did the very same thing…. we have a tendency to tell them “don’t slam the door!”  Where is the compassion we would naturally give to our friends?

Now is the time we could start changing habits, turn over a new leaf, and try something different. 

Now that is logical…….try something different for different results. 

Listen instead of lecture.  Sit instead of stand.  Be quiet instead of boss.  Consider emotions instead of demands.  Give compassion instead of giving directions.    Then little by little,,,when emotions are soothed and calmed, suggestions and ideas can get through.  Little by little, understanding will come to the left side of the brain.  But only when the right side of the brain understood.   

Give compassion to emotions.  Save yourself time, energy, and stress.


Relationships During These Hard Times December 10, 2008

“All we need is love. All we need is love, love………Love is all we need” (Beatles).  Is this true?  Really?

“I love you,,,,,,but I am not In Love, with you.”  “I love him but I don’t like him.”  What ?

“I’ll just die if I can’t have those jeans !”  Hugh ?

So, …..what then, do you need?

Time and patience for a start. How about giving honesty, dependability, determination, kindness, fairness, courtesy, cooperation, trustworthiness, and generosity? All of these can help sustain us during these financial hard times, as well as, help build meaningful long-term relationships.  Let’s take a look at things. Society has made so many improvements. Life is more convenient: Fast foods, drive thru’s, microwaves, dishwashers, and the like. We are so accustomed to “convenience”, we lose our patience if we have to give a little extra time at a restaurant. No wonder we get such a big surprise when we have to give time to another; or be patient

with another person’s like or dislikes; or even be patient with another person’s imperfections.We have never really had to wait, save up, or do without. Delayed gratification is almost a thing of the past. Perhaps the great benefit of today’s economy is that we are forced to realize that “relationships” are the only meaningful and lasting thing……… if we look at life Existentially or Spiritually. However, because life is so much easier than even a decade ago, many people have not learned to “press on” during times of momentary difficulty, as our historical counterpart once did. No I do not want to go back to the “good old days” when it comes to convenience. However, there are valuable principles which are worthwhile to carry with us from the past into posterity.

I was surprised when researchers came up with the term: “Benign Deprivation”. It is the idea of allowing oneself or one’s children to do without something, if that something, is not critical to sustaining life. In other words, if doing without an item, has a benign effect, it is okay to do without it.

The idea of “Benign Deprivations” still makes me chuckle because I have made it a point to do without a lot of stuff. My husband had to force me to get a cell phone. You see, I grew up around my grandparents. They lived through the Great Depression. Consequently they were fugal, never used credit, and saved tin foil. I did get caught up in materialism and conspicuous consumption when I was younger, but later sought out meaning and purpose.

We really have to ask ourselves if something is truly a need, as compared to a want. True, we may think we are going to die if we can’t have a particular pair of shoes. We may even tell ourselves….our children need a particular pair of jeans to fit into that popular crowd. Nevertheless, is it really life threatening to do without it? Maybe we need to count our blessings?

An over abundance of things can make ourselves and our kids greedy, spoiled, and demanding. Generosity and kindness can be lost unless we refocus back to positive character values.

Will we, as a society, allow material goods to replace character? Is “Benign Depravation” a new way to reminding us not to spoil ourselves and our kids with material goods? Is it a reminder for us to still value old fashioned character such as honesty, dependability, determination, kindness, fairness, courtesy, cooperation, trustworthiness, and generosity?

Relationships are necessary for life. Therefore, promoting, nurturing, and tending to the growth of quality character in ourselves and our kids, is beneficial for love and lasting relationships. Time is what our kids really want from us anyway. You too, probably.

These economic tight times need to be embraced and valued as a time to reinforce those things which are more lasting than temporal materialism. It can also bring out the best in us. Love, honor, dependability, determination, kindness, courtesy, trustworthiness, generosity, and meaningful long-term relationships will sustain us during these financial hard times.

About our RAD kids……………….time and patience is even more important.Not reacting to the fears they stir up in us is also critical. Our calmness can soothe their scared souls.

No matter what age they are. The younger they are,,,probably the easier it is to not react.Nonetheless, it is the older children who probably need it even more because they have gone without longer.

If we are going to catch ourselves before we over react, then we must be introspective and try to figure out why.

Why does a particular thing bug us?  What happened in our background….. which stirs up those irritable feelings, when our

kids bug us?  My father was a pathological lier, so when my child said anything which might resemble even a “half truth”,

my nerves were set on fire.   He might have been telling the truth yet I was already predisposed to expect the worst.

Therefore, I got paradoxical results.   I helped create the very thing I thought I was trying to prevent.

This is when I should have stopped myself. But I was not aware yet. Everyone does the best they can with what they know.

I am so glad to have a better understanding.


What is the RAD child saying? November 28, 2008

Dr. Heim Ginnott, a child psychologist, states children speak in a foreign language which adults must decipher.  Adults have to find the hidden meaning within the words and beneath the behavior.   

How do we do this?      We could ask the following questions.     Who is the child around when a behavior happens?  What leads into a behavior?  What happens during a behavior?   What happens after the behavior?    When does the behavior happen?  Where does  a behavior happen?  Okay….These can help you see a pattern…….but it does not give you the “why”.     

Now, go back and consider those 2 primal “states of being” mentioned some days ago:  Life or death. Warm, comfortable, secure ……………OR,  cold, painful, and fearful.   Safe, secure, and loved……….Or  threatened, dangerous, and unloved.   Love versus fear.  To a child….life is “all or nothing”;  black or white;  life or death;   loved or unloved………………………. AND AS A CHILD, YOU DESPERATELY WANT TO BE LOVED.                                                                                                                           

So what if the only behavior people listen to is negative behavior.  More negative behavior means more people listen.  Finally mom and dad come to school, finally mom and dad are showing concern.  Finally someone is listening!  Finally someone is showing concern!  And in a child’s confused state of being…….this could be the closest thing to love a child has ever experienced.  The negative cycle perpetrated and conditioned to happen again.   

“BUT THERE IS NOTHING TO BE AFRAID OF”, you say.  “HE HAS FOOD.  HE HAS CLOTHING.  HE HAS A FAMILY. WHAT DOES HE HAVE TO BE AFRAID OF?”   Life might have been really scary at one time if the child has been abused  or threatened.    Life still might be scary, if the child has been sent from home to home to home because no foster home wanted him.  He does not have wisdom to know what is predictible and what is not.

Fear travels from the exterior superficial  to the interior primal state of being.  Could the child fear he will be sent away again?  Go deeper.  Could it be the child fears that no one will ever love him?  Go deeper.  Could the child fear he is unlovable ?  He might have been thrown away before.  Why would anyone throw away something valuable ?  Therefore he concludes, his core being is valueless and not worthy of love. Ultimately this means to him, he is completely meaningless, valueless, and unlovable. 

How sad, to come to the conclusion you are disposable, replaceable, not worthy enough to keep.   There are plenty of throw away things in our society.  Spouses are throwaway. You help the other through grad school, you dedicate yourself to the other with the hope of reciprocal love and devotion……then then you are disposed of ,,,,replaced.   Paper cups, toys, …you name it.  Today it is a disposable society.  Is that what you are really teaching a child,,, that your love is transient,,,,,,,,replaceable, disposable  …..throw away something  if you are not happy with it. 

You see… is not our logic which is important.    The child’s perception is what counts.   What does respite look like to a child afraid of abandonment?    What does being sent to his room alone look like to this same child.  He is not worthy to be around, he is not valuable, he is disposable.

Sad and scary, isn’t it.                                                                                                     

Would not your heart have compassion for a child lost in a store crying for Mommy?  Would you not want to comfort that child?  Why then, do we lack compassion for RAD kids?  Because we have been taught that they are angry, controlling, bossy, domineering, and oppositional.  We are taught they need to know the adults are in control so they will relinquish their control.  Where does this idea come from?  The false teaching that the children are angry.  When we are faced with an angry person, our own defenses automatically go up causing the power struggle to continue.  

So we follow what we have been taught.   However, when do we finally know when something is not working?   When we seem to be in a perpetual negative cycle?   When everything we try just does not seem to work?   How long must we continue until you finally get to the point we are willing to try something different?   When you are sick and tired of being sick and tired? 

How many respites must we put a child through?  Would we feel our spouse truly loved us ………if he or she did not want to be around us?     Is his or her love so transient that we are only loved if we fit in to a particular mold?  As an adult I would fell hurt, sadness, and fear the love was only imitation.       

What is REAL love?  How would you like your spouse to love you?  What would communicate to you his or her devotion is real?  What would make you feel cherished and treasured?  If your spouse did not want to talk to you or spend time with you, would you feel loved?

What if you were afraid your spouse was going to leave you?  Would you long for the love you felt you have missed? What would you do?  Adults have been known to do all kinds if irrational, stupid things.  Now consider, if you do not have the maturity or wisdom of an adult? 

How does a child communicate what they need to communicate when the adults have ears but do not listen.  What can a child say if they talk and no one understands?  What is left?  Something more and more outrageous? What is left when words do not  work?  What is left?  BEHAVIOR.  What does the child have to do to get their message across?  


When we try to parent a foster child, an adopted child or traumatized child……sometimes we have to go back before we go forward. 

Go back and fill up that empty emotional gas tank instead of using power against power.  Go back …..and bring that child closer to you instead of sending the child alone to his bedroom.  Go back….and spend more time with the child instead of sending the child away to demonstrate our power.  That child already knows, as an adult you have power over his life.   Would you feel the need to demonstrate your power to an infant?  Your child may still be an infant emotionally .

Go back and nurture your child starting at whatever emotional age he is…..1, 2, 3 years old …….

Listen to his behavior.  Maybe he is trying to tell you that school is overwhelming and scary.  Maybe the social worker would always show up at school to take him to a new foster home.  Maybe he needs the security of home schooling.   Maybe he needs to know where you are, and, home is where he feels safe.

Does he always delay and procrastinate when he is sent alone to his room to clean it alone?  He may need the security of having your presence.  Go be with him (in a calm gentle loving way) while he is cleaning his room.  If you had a friend,,,would you be willing to help?  Why not lovingly work side by side your child to clean his room?  This is a win/win situation.  You get the room clean is a shorter amount of time, less anger and less frustration.  The child gets your company, assistance so he is not overwhelmed, conversation and connection with you.  You are filling up his emotional gas tank and teaching him how to work as a team.  

You must be willing to do this in a loving compassionate way.  How would you teach a three year old to clean his room?  How would you show love to a three year old?   See the RAD child as a scared child and develop compassion for him.  What do you have to loose?  You have tried every other thing.  Is it working?  Has the negative behavior terminated?.  The negative behavior may have been put on hold but has the root of the issue resolved?  What is the child trying to say? What is the hidden meaning within the words and beneath the behavior? 



Blessings to all.







reactive attachment disorder NORMAL PREDICTIBLE ATTACHMENT REPONSE October 28, 2008

I was looking at my collage transcripts (the other day).  I guess I am good at reflecting or PONDERING. It is clear to me I was trying to understand life in general.  I remember taking psychology in high school.  Then in 1978 I took General Psychology 101 at Metro Tech Community College in Omaha Nebraska. 

I now believe it is everyone’s responsibility to overcome their childhood when they are old enough to do anything about it. Every generation is trapped within the boundaries and limitations of the previous era’s wisdom and ignorance.   I see my striving to understand reflected in education and religion.  If God (or Supreme Being if you wish) is the creator of all, the study of both reveals the other.  Science reflects God and God’s wisdom can be seen in science.  I do not believe they can be separated because God is the Master Scientist.

Anyway….I was always trying to understand.  Watching, reflecting, pondering, learning, and praying.  Trying to understand my family, childhood, others, experiences, and life in general.  There will always be an element which is beyond our understanding, above our ways. This is the Devine Mystery which we have to rely on faith and just know God’s way is beyond our human understanding. The ultimate Human Dilemma, the Human Condition: to know we don’t know.  We are imperfect and lacking in understanding.  What a thing to come up with….After years of trying to understand……coming to understand there are just some things which cannot be understood.

Never the less, some things are so obvious they are confusing.  I remember taking a speech class long, long time ago. I had to stand up in front of people. I was scared to death.  My heart was pounding, my hands were shaking as I held the note cards.  My voice trembled.  My entire body trembled as well.  The critiques said over and over again, that I should “just be myself”.  Guess what?  I was just being myself:  Scared to Death.  I didn’t know how to be other than scared to death so their statements to be “myself” were not useful.  I did understand this was a complete oxymoron. 

Now back to RAD.  I flipped through my “Abnormal Psychology” text and found nothing on Reactive Attachment Disorder.   My child development texts are considered to be from a “Normal” perspective.  “Disorder” suggests abnormal.  Okay.  One can find some information in the DSM-IV.  The DSM-IV is the guide which the mental health field uses to classify and categorize symptoms of various “disorders”.

Would it be normal or abnormal to fear picking up a hot skillet without a hot pad, if you have been burnt before?   Would it be normal or abnormal to fears dogs if you were attacked by a dog before?   Would it be normal or abnormal to fear public speaking if you have never done it before?  Probably….for all these scenarios. 

The human being is an exquisite sensory system of nerves which culminate into a hair-trigger alarm system, which when activated, releases an explosion of energy channeled into an instantaneous flight, fight, or freeze response for survival.   Since humans’ natural predators were among the fastest and smartest on the planet, such as lions, wolves, vipers, and man himself, man needed an incredible nervous system to survive.  The very fact of man’s survival is evidence that God, in God’s wisdom, endowed man with this ability.

So to counter this danger, perhaps first exposed “in utero”, the human child has one of the most sensitive alarm systems in nature.  The slightest perception of an unnatural movement can trigger the flight, fight, and freeze response which for countless millennia enabled the human to survive the stealthiest cats, the most cunning of wolves, poisonous of vipers, and the smartest of humans.

If a child did not have certain responses such as hyper vigilance or hypersensitivity, something then would truly be wrong.  Even hypo-vigilance or hypo-sensitivity are normal for survival. The human nervous system also had to conserve energy during times of food shortages or times of long confinement. When groups of people huddled together in small shelters in mid winter, conservation of energy was critical as well as suppressing aggression.  Confined in close quarters with little food, it is easy to become irritated and hostile with each others.  If the nervous system did not slow down to depress hostilities and aggression, humans would have ultimately exterminated themselves even before they starved to death.

The very fact of man’s survival is evidence that God, in God’s wisdom, endowed man with this ability.

 The ultimate Oxymoran.  Can we not have compassion and love for these children?  Do we remove fear by inducing fear?   Do we remove fear with restraints, punishment, timeout or isolation?  We may never fully understand but how about reflecting and pondering?  We may never fully understand but how about overcoming the previous generation’s conceptions of RAD?  How about overcoming the previous generation’s boundaries, limitations, ignorance, and misconceptions of RAD…. by learning, growing and questioning the given solution?  Consider new ideas.  Consider a new perspective.  Tap into your compassion and empathy.   Does it not say……”perfect love casts out fear”?  Can we not try compassion?   There may never be an answer for some, but let us ponder.  Maybe we must first ponder, “what is love”.?  Some will say that punishment is a form of love.  Some may.