How to Survive the Summer with an Anxious, Controlling Child

So That You Can Appreciate Your Life and Your Child

  1. Create a regular, stable routine.  Keep regular routines the same like bedtimes and mealtimes.  When there are dependable routines, a child feels safe and secure.
  2. Just because it is summer, don't give extra snacks, cookies and candies.  You will feel good about giving your child a treat until the extra sugar creates increased energy, poor concentration, bad decisions and grumpiness because of fatigue from the sugar high.
  3. Adults think they need to take their children on holidays and big excursions.  Anxious children find big holidays overwhelming.  They cannot keep regulated and then adults get angry and frustrated with them.  Stay home so that kids can become happy in their home.  Many children don't need the thrill of a new place.  They need security and safety in their own home.  A foster parent told me many years ago that it better to take your children back to the same places so that the kids can know what to expect.  Familiarity is better than a constant parade of new places.  Let the kids be successful at one place rather than unsuccessful at many new ones.  Go at low peak times so that there isn't as much confusion or noise.  Make the trips short. Allow for rest periods if there is a lot of walking. 

 An Attachment-Based Treatment of Maltreated Children and Young People
Dan Hughes, Attachment & Human Development, 2004, 6, 263-278
ABSTRACT (Summary)

When children experience repetitive intrafamilial maltreatment, thus having no setting that provides attachment security, they are at high risk for developing a fragmented sense of self and disorganized attachment patterns. Basic survival requires all of their psychological and physical energy. Their affect is likely to be reactive, cognition may be rigid and their behaviour may be impulsive. They also are at risk to be dissociated from their experiences with gaps in their personal narrative. These patterns, along with habitual controlling and avoidant behaviors are likely to permeate their daily functioning and to be present during therapy as well.

The goal of treatment is to provide these children with an opportunity to safely become engaged with their therapist - as well as their primary attachment figure when appropriate - across a full range of experiences. Their attuned presence enables these children to be more likely to activate aspects of self which they had previously failed to do. With successful treatment, their affect - being co-regulated - is now more able to resonate across a much wider range of implicit and explicit memories and here and now experiences. Their reflective abilities are more able to expand and incorporate the flexible, responding in the unique manner that will meet their best interests. They are able to remain present over the course of the sessions, including the memories elicited, and in so doing, are able to begin to build a coherent personal narrative. Their sense of self is becoming integrated. The intersubjective experiences of the therapist and caregiver - with them now in the terrifying and shameful events of the past - have provided them with new ways to give meaning to those events so that they can more fully enter into their autobiographical narrative.

Children and Families - Photos