Inside I’m Hurting: explicit communication

I guess this should technically be part two, because I wrote a sort of “preview” to the book before I finished it. That was way back in March and I didn’t expect it would take me so long to get through it.

The book, by Louise Michelle Bomber, was written as an aid for educators who are working with attachment challenged children. Even though I’m not an educator, I was still able to benefit from the book, and I’ve been using many of its tips at home. It also gives some strategies for creating a home/school partnership. However, the book is written like a manual and is quite long. It obviously took me many months to finish it (although I read only a few pages at a time, and not every day).

Since the book is long, and there are so many valuable ideas, I decided to do my review in several parts. In my preview, I wrote about “good enough” parenting. For this part, I’d like to focus on “differentiating our communication.”

In chapter 3, “The Role of Education and the Core Concept of Differentiation,” Bomber explains the importance of communicating explicitly. While many children may understand requests such as “be nice” or “calm down,” attachment challenged children may not. Bomber writes, “(These phrases) presume a child has had previous healthy experiences and so will know how to behave to follow your instruction. We cannot make these assumptions.”

Bomber’s solution is to use very specific instructions. Instead of the examples above, she recommends something like the following, “Touch others gently. They feel uncomfortable when you push them.” Another example is, “Talk quietly to the others. It gives children a shock when you shout in their ears.”

My kids have a very hard time controlling themselves, especially when it comes to appropriate indoor behavior. In these situations I’ve adapted Bomber’s examples to sound something like, “Please be calm. That means using a quiet voice and walking feet.”

This has also come in handy with BE in particular who has the bad habit of literally getting right in people’s faces. In response, I’ve been saying, “Please do not get in my face. People do not like others in their face. It makes them very uncomfortable.”

Bomber concludes this section by explaining, “Differentiating the language that we use will enable children who have experienced trauma and loss to make sense of what is going on around them, thus giving them the opportunity to respond appropriately in different contexts. This clarification will help build up their resilience.”

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