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Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

I just finished up MAPP class a week ago, and am trying to get everything figured out to get licensed by early spring. The class was great, but seemed a little more geared towards younger foster children (understandably, that lined up with what most of my classmates we're aiming for, with the exception of a truly impressive women with a kinship placement of four teens).

I plan to take in a teenager (maybe more, if a sibling group needs a spot to land; I have two spare bedrooms but am a little unsure about starting out outnumbered). It seems like there's a solidly wide range in what a foster teen might be ready for in terms of picking up adult life skills.

Thinking about all the things that a kid might be going through and all the things they may need to pick up to successfully gain independence is overwhelming to me, so I'm not sure how to open the discussion with them. How much do you rely on what they want to prioritize versus the opinion of their social worker, care team, and birth parents (if there's shared parenting)?

Is it better to start out treating a teen like a younger kid until you have a good sense of where they are and can relax rules/expand privileges, or will that be setting them up to fail by demonstrating a lack of trust?

Has anyone looked at using Famzoo with their older foster children? It seems like a good pre-debit-card intro to adult finances, plus a good way to separate and track foster-related expenses.

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Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Thanks!

I've seen some very different philosophies on phone use for foster teens. I would probably prefer a child had a phone so that they can be reached. What level of oversight has worked for you? How does loss of a WiFi password work if they have a phone with data?

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Just got a combo 'let's schedule a first home visit/oh by the way there's a child we should talk about' email.

Any advice on good questions I should ask the social worker? The prospective match is a little younger than I was initially envisioning, so I need to think more about how I can best support a tween.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Anyone have any recommendations around establishing food security while still promoting healthy-ish eating habits?

My kid is on the low end of the weight spectrum. He loves candy and chips, but also has stomachaches that are exacerbated by stress so he can go off his food for long stretches of time, then gets ravenously hungry and binges. Right now I'm rolling with a 'you can have snacks/junk food if you're hungry, but try to eat a few bites of something with more nutrition first,' keeping fresh fruit in the house, and alternating buying candy or chips as the treat item for the week. I don't eat added sugar, so he knows that all of his sweets in the house will only get eaten by him.

It's a little hard to predict when a food he's usually liked will 'look weird' and be completely unappetizing. I'm throwing a fair bit out since I can't keep up with the leftovers.

I was thinking about adding jerky, granola bars, and nuts to the rotation of available snack foods, since browsing seems to be less pressure than prepared meals. I'm not really clear on if I'm enabling at this point, but I really don't want to reinforce the disordered eating by turning it into a power struggle.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

I'd like to get more consistent with dinnertime, but we've bonded over fortnite and he wants me to play duos or creative with him to destress after we get home. There's some urgency to that as well, since the wifi cuts out at bedtime. I probably need to set the expectation of 'two rounds/30 min and then I have to fix dinner,' and keep adding to a list of things that he'll eat that take <30 min prep time.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Any suggestions on what to do for the summer with a newly-thirteen-year-old who is strongly opposed to camp or babysitters when I have a full-time job?

He's not really ready to be at home alone all day without getting exceptionally bored.

I'm considering enrolling him in an afternoon half-day of tutoring/enrichment and figuring out how to get transportation, but letting him have his lazy mornings and moderately-late nights as a compromise (wifi cuts off at 10).

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

He's a young 12 3/4 right now and will be a young 13-year-old (he's also pretty physically slight, and has a tendency to get in escalating verbal/physical altercations when 'messing around' with his friends, because he learned to seek out a fight to avoid being bullied).

He gets along better with 6-9-year-olds and left to his own devices would end up playing Fortnite or Minecraft all day even if his head hurts or he starts getting annoyed at the game.

Unstructured or loosely-structured time with his peers is not a great option, and I worry about his emotional maturity particularly in a setting where he's on the bottom end of an age range.

Engineer Lenk fucked around with this message at 18:03 on Feb 19, 2020

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

I'm still fighting the 'underwear is not optional' battle, so fully clothed would be an upgrade.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Mine just got suspended (while I'm away on a business trip). Figuring out how to establish consequences that are appropriately deterrent without being unreasonable is hard.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Just in case your agencies weren't circulating this to everyone, both the love and logic basic course and one of the TBRI basic courses are available for free on a time-limited basis. For us it'll count as training hours.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Mocking Bird posted:

The online versions? Got a link?

This was the link passed along in my email:
https://www.loveandlogic.com/products/love-and-logic-parenting-online

And the TBRI 101 online 30 days for free is here:
https://child.tcu.edu/sale/#sthash.Y2D116Xm.tPNH1R5c.dpbs

I also just checked out and read 'The explosive child' from the library; that approach is a little different than either L&L or TBRI, but it also looks promising, particularly for older kids and teens.

Right now I'm struggling with how to get my kid to move from bed to shower in the morning. I woke him up at 7:30 AM yesterday and he didn't get into the shower until 11. This is without him falling back asleep (because I kept talking to him and interrupting going back to sleep) or doing anything distracting while in bed, it just takes him that long to motivate himself. Without me pushing hard on him (my previous approach was to annoy him into compliance), he's switched to getting angry at himself for not being willing to get up.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Mother's day was pretty good - my mom called and tried to talk my kid into picking flowers, but instead he found a cool map in fortnite creative to play with me.

I'm so proud of how well he's doing with getting up and doing his (very abbreviated) schoolwork. I even made him a custom worksheet today that he complained about for 20 minutes, then worked through, then tore up (because he hates worksheets) but ultimately said was cool.

We also watched a few episodes of avatar weeks ago, which he was only half-listening to. This morning, out of nowhere, he goes 'look at this! I'm waterbending!' while splashing around in the sink. It cracked me up.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Paratan posted:

That's kind of hilarious...

I took a picture of it.

https://imgur.com/a/GnCj5UV

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Has anyone else dealt with an attachment phase with their older child/teen where they need you to be there to get to sleep?

I think this is developmentally normal for little kids, so it doesn't surprise me that it's popping up out of order. And the aftermath of trauma leads to intrusive thoughts that are louder late at night, particularly since I try to get screens put away by 9 on weeknights and 11 on weekends (wifi cuts off at 8/10 respectively, and offline games aren't as addicting for him). We have a pretty set bedtime routine of meds/brush teeth/read a chapter of Harry Potter/lights out.

I'm having a rough time with not getting to sleep until midnight (yesterday was 2am) when I still wake up by 8 every day.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

I would expect that you'd want to prepare for a lot of the same things with international adoption as with domestic transracial adoption. Aftermath of trauma (at a minimum, separation from birth parents), as well as the importance of maintaining connections to their birth culture - foods, holidays, religion, language, and community. If you're only looking into international adoption from India (from the same religious background and area as your partner), this may be a little more seamless than picking up a third culture to blend into your household.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Any suggestions about building a kid's self-worth and reframing gentle correction as 'this is a learning opportunity' instead of 'you're bad and I need you to be perfect'?

Last night he told me that he deserved to live in a trash can. My heart breaks for him.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Tomorrow I'm driving three hours to drop my dog off with my parents so I have some space to figure out what to do with him. We're on semi-provoked face bite #2 (both with mild broken skin).

The kid is miserable and blaming himself. The dog is slightly possessive of me and doesn't deal well with people lunging at me (this was a hug-tackle, not something aggressive); he's also 10 lbs soaking wet and has put up with a lot from the kid.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Yep.

Here are my library finds:

'The Explosive Child' : really good framework for dealing with a kid like mine (although he's 1000% less explosive nowadays, and temper tantrums/sulks are 15-minute affairs rather than hours-long)

'How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk' : a lot of common sense stuff in this book, and they have other versions targeted for teens and little kids (the teen one's on my wish list but it wasn't at the library). I really liked how they defuse kids behaviors and I think reading this made me a better listener.

'The Body keeps the score' : this one's a tough read, but it goes over a lot of PTSD stuff, and childhood trauma is notorious for leading to cPTSD.

I'm reading whole-brain child right now, and finding it reasonably useful since my 13-year-old often acts a little younger. I also liked the connected child.

Up next on my list is the Yale SPACE manual:
Treating Childhood and Adolescent Anxiety: A Guide for Caregivers

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

The SPACE thing was something I found recommended off r/parenting. I'm gonna talk to the kid's therapist before implementing anything, though, since the concept of decreasing accommodations for anxiety is going to be tricky to navigate respecting the trauma background. Compounding everything is the fact that I don't know if he'll be able to live independently as an adult, but would like to give him the best chance possible - and that means controlling his anxiety and hyperactivity to give him a fighting chance to develop some executive functioning skills.

Anyone have any opinions about adoption vs guardianship? I think in my case it'll look pretty similar since my kid's mom has reappeared after 6 months; he misses her and likes chatting with her - I see no reason that they shouldn't stay in touch and get on a regular visitation schedule. I think it might reduce his anxiety to be adopted, though - mom's still making comments about getting him back and it's freaking him out some (but not stopping him from asking her for a four-wheeler, PS5, his own room...)

He's only now barely able to acknowledge to me that his mom wasn't able to take care of him.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Yep, my kid figured out how to request money after about 0.5 seconds so I have a 'declined' 10000000 request.

All his allowance turns into vbucks or robux shortly after it shows up. I created a 'cash for reading' program that he's used in desperation a few times when a really good skin pack hits the item store.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Sure. PM me the link?

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Please share.

On a developing vocabulary front, my teen has started threatening to defenestrate people, which is a welcome change from his usual go-tos. Kid, you're not even 100 lbs, how are you going to throw me out the window? Plus we live in a one story house.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

It's progress when a kid is verbalizing that they're testing you because they think you'll send them back and telling you that you should be yelling at them, right?

My poor dude is beating himself up, and doesn't get why I'm not yelling at him or being really punitive. I can't really let him alone when he's in a snit because he self-harms. But that pisses him off and he starts verbally abusing me. I'm stuck trying to figure out an appropriate consequence that doesn't just invite further escalation.

Anybody got any ideas?

On the whole 'try and get the kid to be less of a lump on the couch' front: use of a generous screen time economy has been working pretty well for us thus far (starts when schoolwork is done, 3hrs for free, unlock unlimited until bedtime with 20 min exercise and 20 min of helping around the house, otherwise earn time 1:1 by doing something to amuse yourself without screens). In practice, it means he's at a break point right around when I get off work. He chooses to help out about 4 days a week and has better conversations with his mom and sibs on the other days since he's not trying to talk to them while gaming. 20 min seems to be kind of the magic number for him, since it rarely produces a meltdown like his classes do.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Paratan posted:

this is amazing lol did I mention my teen like doubled in size

Mine's gone from like the 2nd percentile to the 40th on those growth charts.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Mocking Bird posted:

RIP popsicles and whipped cream

I got one of those popsicle maker things and do frozen OJ pops. The whole tray of eight popsicles is like two cups of OJ, so not completely ridiculous.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

How's everyone else's school in the time of COVID-19 going?

I'm pushing hard to start homeschooling. My kid is not in the slightest bit motivated to do anything, and sleeps through his classes if not monitored (and sometimes does that if I'm there). My only carrot/stick is ensuring that all near-term assignments are completed before the wifi is turned on to his gaming devices each day. And he can hold out for 2-4 hours making himself utterly miserable before tackling 20 min of work.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

I wish I could be as chill as both of y'all about everything; my kid's on the cusp of a huge leap forward with reading, and it has pissed me off immensely that relying solely on school would keep him illiterate. Which if he was 8 or 10 would be kinda a meh whatever moment, but he's 13 and the gap between his listening comprehension and reading ability just gets wider and wider. He's already really frustrated that he can't read well, but also resists approaching it incrementally and systematically.

I grabbed a basic phonics workbook and we're working through it each weekday that he's not otherwise reading. He doesn't love it by any stretch of the imagination, but he is now trying to decode stuff in his games that he had previously ignored (and started trying to read the comments on his youtube videos).

If the homeschool curriculum was up to me, I'd basically have him playing math games and reading (about anything he's interested in), do some verbal analysis of the inane YouTube videos he watches all day (he wants to be a YouTuber), maybe have him do some duolingo and some kind of coding app, then call it a day with relatively few total hours of instruction.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Paratan posted:

I've only been learning about self-directed education ever since teen started refusing to go to school. I didn't know much about homeschooling other than laws vary by state.
why is the "curriculum" not up to you or him? Is that not allowed?

Oh, it would be up to me if I was really homeschooling. The hoops we have to jump through before the district'll release us are kinda obnoxious though. This just stands in stark contrast to what remote schooling is looking like at this point.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

I'm trying to console my kid over his mom cancelling/delaying a visit (second in a year) again because his poppa (grandfather) is unresponsive in the hospital with Covid.

E: He has the realistic view that she's not dealing with the crisis but is instead drinking.

Engineer Lenk fucked around with this message at 19:21 on Nov 4, 2020

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

I love the logic from my kid around not wanting to get up and get a shower: 'If I do that I'll want to do my work so I can get screen time and I don't want to do my work so I can't take a shower.'

Kid, you reek. You can go back to bed if you just take a shower. If you'd just stay in your own bed it'd be fine but when you switch locations and come talk to me because you're bored I will tell you to get a shower first.

I get called an rear end in a top hat (or worse, depending on mood and whether he or 'Bob' is controlling his body) consistently when I follow through with the whole 'finish schoolwork before playing video games' limit or when I start commenting on his sore loser trash talk in fortnite (if the guy who just killed you is a bot then you just got merced by a bot; I'd rather die to someone who can play pretty well).

Anyone else dealt with multiple personalities?

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!


This is kind of eerily on the nose; although Bob has proven to be somewhat tractable and less rapey, he is an interdimensional being who has a history of murdering people (but all the people he murdered were really mean to him). He is often in his mid-50s, but periodically rebirths and has an elaborate family drama going on in his other dimension.

He also has a tragic backstory and is being press-ganged by my kid into covering for him during school (he's a lot better at math), so we're working on teaching him how to be a better friend and not try to get the kid in trouble or force him out so he can take over all the time.

I highly doubt my 13-year-old has seen twin peaks, but you never know.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

I just found a PS5 for my kid, but it doesn't arrive until after Christmas. I didn't mean to spoil him rotten, but I also kinda got carried away with a lot of other smaller gifts. He did, however, say that all he wanted for his birthday was for me to adopt him. I've cautioned him that it's complicated and a lot of the timing depends on his mom, but he's an optimist.

There were such highs and lows of emotions today. He spent 3 hours after school moping because he couldn't bring himself to do the 30 min worth of schoolwork that needed to get done before other screentime.

He's grieving; his grandfather died last week (one of his primary caregivers until 5 or so). I went with him to visit his Papa in the hospital and to the family viewing before burial. I know he has a hard time dealing with these big emotions and I'm really proud of how he's doing on the whole. My dad is in hospice so both of us are dealing with a lot.

The silver-ish lining to all this grief is that his mom is communicating really well through everything (which is not a typical strength), and her side of the family has been really accepting of me as a new family +1.

E: also just got the green light to homeschool today. I'll keep the thread updated on if this turns out to be a good or horrifying idea.

Engineer Lenk fucked around with this message at 01:20 on Dec 16, 2020

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Unexpected parenting requirement of the day: reading 50 shades of grey and 'one of the sequels'.

The kid has access to audiobooks from the library to listen to at night; this is my compromise position since I don't want him on screens instead of sleeping. Usually he stays within the Juvenile category, but apparently 50 shades looked interesting and was compelling enough for him to listen to the sequel.

So now we're having discussions about consent (which is a good continuation of what we'd already talked about) in the context of BDSM, which he can't really wrap his head around.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

I have unlocked the secret of teaching my 13-year-old to read: reddit. He will snag my phone and read the comments to me (he also had me read him all the posts about Paratan's teen because I was laughing about the last one). I'm absolutely sure he's gained a full academic year in reading now; he's testing close to middle of the 2nd grade and able to sound out almost all the prompts on his video games.

I also highly recommend mightier for kids/tweens. It's a (pricy) therapeutic game system that teaches kids to control their heart rate (and identify when they're getting amped/angry). I let that be the freebie screen after everything else shuts off; it's not as addicting as his other games and self-limits the potential to rage. It's only been a week or so but he's doing the calming behaviors IRL.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Brennanite posted:

Could you talk more about this? I've seen the ads and wondered if it would help kids with autism.

I've played it once. It's an android tablet and paired bluetooth optical heart rate armband. The armband sits on the bicep. You start playing one of three short games, with an small onscreen representation of your heart rate in the bottom corner with a blue zone, red zone, and in-between. As you play, the red zone will increase while the blue zone stays the same. The games are kinda hard so you will eventually go in the red. Then it flips to a Pokemon capture style game where you have to get your heart rate back to blue. Each day you get a new character to collect, and it takes 3-5 calming rounds to knock the hp down enough to catch the thing. You can only capture one lavaling per day, and they give you prompts to help lower your heart rate when you're in that battle.

The parent dashboard shows how many minutes played and how many cool downs by day.

I thought about it for a while and looked at the research before I decided to buy the system. I worried it might be too juvenile for my 13-year-old, but making it available when other gaming systems are off was tempting enough. I expect him to jailbreak the android tablet within a month or so (he may not be fully literate, but he's good with tech), but by then he'll have taken in what I want him to learn from it.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

My kid is a devious genius y'all. I was working with him on his spelling list today. One of his words was 'milk'. His first attempt ended up as mlick- right sounds, just wrong order (as is pretty common with dyslexia). He asked to be excused for a minute and went to the fridge. Didn't get anything, but came back and immediately corrected his spelling. He said it was faster to find the word on the milk jug than to work out the sounds.

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

I just got roasted tonight by my teenager. I fed him waffle fries for dinner because that's what he wanted and what he'd eat. He looks at me after he's about halfway through and says "I don't think you're qualified to be a parent."

E: I'm currently fielding the question: "Why do your balls have to sweat?"

Engineer Lenk fucked around with this message at 01:18 on Mar 16, 2021

Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Hey my fellow trauma-informed peeps,

Can y'all vet this three-step process I'm going to give my kid as a magic 'get out of lecture free/deescalate a tense situation' strategy?

1. Figure out why the other person is upset.
2. Let them know that you are listening to them.
3*. Let them know one thing you'll try in the future to prevent the same thing happening again.

*3 does not apply if the other person is completely irrational.

If the other person is a cop, just say 'I can't talk to you until after I've talked to my parent,' and then be quiet.

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Engineer Lenk
Aug 28, 2003

Mnogo losho e!

Paratan posted:

That seems like an ok starting off point to me? How'd it go?

I realized I have already packed away most of my books but when I looked it up in the old Boys Town manual, they had lists like
How to listen, how to follow directions, how to accept compliments, etc.
that were so granular I can't actually expect my teen in particular to ReMEMBER the steps all by himself.

Yeah I think the multiple step thing might work better if he was as autistic as I am. It's at least got him thinking about things, but three steps is still 2 more than is easy for him to remember.

Tonight's quote from him (which should in and of itself be diagnostic for ADHD): As I was saying, before I was interrupted by MY drat BRAIN.

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