“I’m sorry” is so often a lie with children afflicted with RAD. They have little to no conscience so there is no feeling behind it. Often the words are delivered with a shoulder shrug and an eye roll! How do we get them to care?
The first thing I do is: make sure how much I care is showing strongly in my eyes and actions. As the parent I must lead the way and set the standard. Showing that you care very much and believe in your child is paramount to healing. I know they make parents turn purple and scream because you feel helpless to stop them! Once we get the right tools the parental anger stops because we have a plan of action that works!
The second thing I do is: forbid the use of the word. I do not make them say it because I would be forcing them to lie! American children have been taught the word “sorry” is an eraser for pain they have inflicted. It isn’t! So we evicted the word until the heart is connected to it and ready to feel forgiveness.
The third step is: focus on building the conscience. That is an entire article in itself. I promise to have that for you in my next blog! For now, the beginning step to that project is to establish respect, so start with that.
The final step I use, when they actually do feel bad about what they did, is: teach the child how to ask for forgiveness when their heart is heavy. For example: If Sweetums lied she would start by looking into the eyes of the one she hurt. Then she would say: ” I lied to you. I was wrong for doing that. Will you, please, forgive me?” After waiting for acceptance she would continue with: “May I please clear your place at the table after lunch to make it up to you?” That, offering of an act of kindness, must be thought up and offered freely by the child. To be the most effective it must come from their heart.
I was moved to tears last weekend when a child, with a cold-blooded history of torturing an animal to death, asked to brush old 007. When I began working with him he had no remorse. He was not sorry. It had been two years since this boy had shown any cruelty to animals so, I had him get permission from his awesome mom. As he stood brushing in the warm autumn sun, the golden leaves surrounded him like a halo. He reached up and wrapped his arms around the old horse’s neck and paused to soak in the moment. I saw them across the yard as 007 closed his eyes and lowered his head to the tall teenage boy. I had not tied him for grooming. The big red Arabian felt the gentle heart near him and stayed for 45 minutes on his own. This strong 15-year-old boy has a full conscience now and a gentle heart. With FASD and RAD it was a long road for him to get there. He has arrived. Our children can heal!
We can make a difference, Nancy