End of School Blues

“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a looked after/adopted child in possession of a difficult start in life, must be in want of a structure-free holiday.” While I commemorate Jane Austen’s 200th death anniversary by adapting her famous opening line I also acknowledge the sad truth that in the last 10 school days I was early in school 7 times and most of those were not happy meetings. 7’s young and inexperienced (but well meaning) teacher said to me ‘we only have a few days left and I am sure he will love the holidays!’ Well… about that.

How to explain it to a person who grew up in a safe and secure environment, who was loved and supported all her life, who pursued a carrier in education and who is now responsible for 20+ children for 30+ hours every week that not every child feels the same?

Not every child is excited about the upcoming holidays!
Not every child is able to cope well with transition days!
Not every child is looking forward to saying goodbye!
Not every child is thriving without rigid structures!
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Not every child is able to verbalise their internal problems so they act out!

End School Blues by Feelingmumyet Adoption Summer Problem

Adopted children really struggle without structure

Both my boys are having very difficult days lately. I appreciate the fact that teachers often don’t know what to do each day – especially when it comes to  weather dependent activities, but the occasional spur-of-the-moment visit to the local library can (and did) send my 8 year old boy into panic mode – and it manifested in him refusing to find a partner to walk with, ignoring the teacher’s warnings and eventually shouting back at her. So, he was banned from going. Naturally, a brilliant solution… not!

7 had a really bad Tuesday, but oddly I only heard about it on Wednesday afternoon, because the teacher thought it would be ‘best if we don’t tell your mummy and hope that tomorrow you can make better choices’. How many times I told her I need to know otherwise things escalate further!!! So, after a couple of deep breaths to control my anger I explained the consequences of her poor choice.

On Tuesday 8 was banned from library plus he lost his water bottle and his attitude was ‘big deal, you will buy me another one’ and he was very difficult to manage so I told him it’s best of we go home (where I can contain him). He responded by kicking me hard all the way from school to home, shouting abusive language at me and eventually making a huge scene in front of our house with lots of people passing by. So, all my attention was on him and I was secretly glad that 7 seemed ok. By 6 pm 8 calmed down and even apologised so it looked like we can have an easy night.

Running away…

That’s when 7 decided that he can’t keep his big feelings in any longer (the issues from school that the teacher didn’t tell me about) and he exploded. It really came out of nowhere or it seemed to me at the time. Hurting me, physical and verbal abuse (CPV) for a while, then he went to his room, threw his favourite toys down the stairs and started jumping on the edge of his bed with the intention of breaking it. We tried all the different therapeutic techniques that we know, but nothing worked. He was in serious danger of hurting himself so we took him downstairs. That’s when he decided he had enough of this ‘stupid house from where I will be kicked out of anyways‘ and he unlocked the front door and took off into the sunset! Bare feet, wearing only his PJ bottom he started running…

I ran after him also bare feet, but he was really fast, literally running for his life. Thank God husband had his shoes on so he could run after him and eventually he caught him, picked him up and carried him back to the house. As you can imagine 7 was grabbing lots of attention as he was screaming ‘help, you are not my dad, I want to go, let me go, I don’t want to go back to that house’. (Next morning first thing I called both Social Workers to give them the heads up, ‘a concerned citizen might give you a call today…’)

When I explained all these to the Miss, she was speechless. You could see the shock on her face and then quickly the guilt when she understood she should have told me a day before. If she can’t manage my boys’ internal struggles at least tell me so I will be able to or things just going to get worse for everybody!

Transition is VERY hard on them

The last few weeks of school is a nightmare for many children. Saying good bye to their teacher, their beloved desk and classroom and usually some dear classmates too can be incredibly hard even for tiny, emotionally healthy people, let alone looked after and adopted children! When moving and saying goodbye is the only constant in your life it’s understandable that you are anxious about the future. There isn’t enough reassurance in the world that would alleviate the fear in their minds so they revert back to survival mode! The problem with that is it is very difficult to think clearly in survival mode and usually they end up making poor choices.

7 managed to insult staff and other children, he destroyed a school bathroom, he was banned from breakfast club again, he was extremely rude and violent towards his friends – all because he was sad and afraid of the changes.

Their vicious cycle goes like this:

Change -> Anxiety -> Panic mode -> Bad choices -> Punishment -> Anger -> More bad behaviour -> Explosion -> Forgiveness from an understanding parent -> Shame -> Self hatred -> Reverting back to younger self -> Hopelessness -> Bad behaviour… Reload!

Welcome to the Summer Holidays! 😦

What strategies you employ to ease the pressure on your children? I am open to any suggestions…

End School Blues in Adoption by Feelingmumyet Boy sitting on Ball at the Beach
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56 thoughts on “End of School Blues

  1. Hannah Meadows says:

    This is so familiar. I hope your transition to the holidays goes as well as it can. We don’t finish until Tuesday but I will be printing our summer schedule over the weekend so our two can see what’s coming up and start crossing off the days…

    #WASO

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  2. mamagrace says:

    My goodness. You have a lot of work ahead of you. My mind is teaming with ideas but I don’t know them. Yes structure is the key. When I took over as head of an SEN and behavioural school, as a result of structure, we went to no restraints, a minimal damage of property and the young people thrived. One student drew on a wall but as part of his own evaluation, he painted it to repair the damage. I wonder if they can be involved in a timetable for the summer? Can it be picture based and an activity you do? I would start with the framework and the suggestion of activities pre prepared, as too much to think about can be off putting. I would be clear with the set up of this, so what the objective is, what the timings are, activities and when we’ll review and how they’ll get to reflect and review at the end of the week. It could be helpful for so many things, a real relationship builder and they could get to know your priorities (I’d include things for all of you and the concept of doing something for everyone). I would include chores you have to do. I would make it visual and display it somewhere, then at the end of the week reflect on it. you could do a rose and a thorn, so one thing they liked doing about last week and one thing they didn’t and why. Then I’d plan the next week asking if there’s anything they’d change and allowing 2 changes each. This isn’t strict, I normally had a number of young people living with autism and too much change was hard to take but you can judge. Then they can know where they are and that they have contributed. I would also help the young person to identify any triggers for running away and to write their own risk reduction plan. I think if the young person is involved they discuss a lot during it and they also take ownership of it.

    Structure did provide a safe environment however, I would also prepare them for when things didn’t go as planned. I would train them to identify their triggers and what helped them, so they could deescalate themselves. In an ideal world I could’ve structured everything for them but it doesn’t work like that and with all my Individual Learning Plans, Risk Reduction Plans and planning for each student, I had to prepare them for a world where that isn’t going to be in place. I wanted them to succeed after school, where I knew these wouldn’t be in place. I worked on social stories with most of my students in different forms. Some students liked to write and illustrate or stick in pictures but some students loved the idea of filming one and it’s something they could play back and give themselves a reminder. It strengthened them.

    I know you’ve talked to the school, hopefully they’ve acknowledged that these young people find change difficult, which means this will have to be planned for and in the case where it can’t, which will happen, support is given. #FabFridayPosts

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      • mamagrace says:

        Welcome. I love your blog and what you’re doing. It’s a hard path you’ve chosen. I don’t know your boys but some many faces pop into my head when I read your journey. I know every story is unique. At the end of the day love gets you there and gives you strength and you have it in abundance and more. They have found you and they are now able to build a solid foundation.

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  3. nightwisprav3n says:

    My brother and I were wards of the court growing up. We were never adopted but my great aunt was given custody of us. It was the 80’s though and even though she tried to help, she had no idea how to and she also believed in the old fashioned notion that children were to be seen and not heard. It had very negative results, especially for my brother who had a very difficult time with any sort of change. Reading this reminds me of what my brother went through and how the teachers failed to help him. The doctors failed and my aunt failed. They didn’t understand him and they didn’t understand what he was going through and how hard it was for him. Thank you for being one of those people who understand what your children are going through. Your compassion and love for them will get them through this. They will thrive. It will take time and lot of patience but you’re doing great! Remember to tell yourself that during these struggles. I wish you and your boys the absolute best! #blogcrush

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    • feelingmumyet says:

      Hello and welcome! Thanks so much for taking time to write this, I am sure it was very hard for both you and your brother! It makes me so sad to hear about stories like yours & I am so very sorry so many people failed you! I hope both you and your brother are in a better place now! Thank you for your kind words and for reading our life story. Wishing you the very best!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Tooting Mama says:

    Gosh this brings back some memories! I used to find holidays and especially the summer holidays really tough. And then when we went away – it got even worse.

    Structure and know what’s was happening when was the key for us. I colour coded our calendar so they knew what was happening when. And I had summer hols planned out by May! My control freakery went into overdrive – but it’s what helped us cope!

    Even five years on we still have ups and downs but it’s got a lot better. Good luck and make sure you take time out for yourself!

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  5. John Adams says:

    Wow, I have eased pressure on my kids by cutting back on after school activities and playing music calms them down. That said, I have never faced anything like this. I am simply unqualified to comment. All I can say is I admire greatly the adoptive parents I know. I hope the expected turbulence doesn’t materilaise over the summer break. #ThatFridayLinky

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    • feelingmumyet says:

      Hello John, welcome to our little corner of reality. The calming music works for us too, plus taking them to parks for burning off energy! 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting!

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  6. thetaleofmummyhood says:

    There’s a lot to be said for structure and routine. The worst thing is that often these changes happen as they begin to get used to and be happy with how things are. Thanks so much for sharing with #Blogstravaganza xx

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  7. Sarah - Mud, Cakes and Wine says:

    Wow what a tough time for you and your husband and how hard this transition has been on the little ones. we have to manage the change carefull but for different reason that of ASD. its a very hard time for children as you said the structure has been taken away and then they have the unknowing for 6 weeks. Hope you all manage to have some time over the holidays to enjoy them #Blogstravaganza

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  8. Gorgeousgsmama says:

    This breaks my heart to read. To think someone has mentally abused his poor little boys so much that they struggle to deal with life.

    You sound like you are being such an incredible influence in their lives and I’ll admit I wouldn’t have considered the effect a change such as the summer holidays could have.

    I hope in the new term your boys will have teachers and a support network at school that is more understanding and supportive of their needs.

    I only have a two year old (not adopted) so not having to deal with too many changes but I’ve always informed George fully of our intentions and plans the night before and before we set out or whilst on the journey. I’ve since found out this is a technique employed by mums with autistic children. I just started it as a way of engaging with him when he was a new born and it seems to be what he needs now to accept things. I know once he attends school this will be more out of my control.

    I hope your boys can pick some fun activities to help them enjoy their summer.

    Lots of love to you.
    It sounds like you are being a wonderful mother to them x

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  9. Su {Ethan&Evelyn} (@ethannevelyn) says:

    This sounds really tough.. Really feel with you. My kids are pretty easy and love unstructured time so I haven’t got even close experience to what you are going through.. I have read some previous comments and they all sounds fab. Be strong mama, you are doing great job!!
    #FabFridayPost

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  10. diynige says:

    Adoption must be so difficult thanks for sharing a wonderful post Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

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  11. Lydia C. Lee says:

    I have no advice as I knew nothing of this – I really hadn’t thought about it. Good for you for providing a secure home to someone who needs it. It reads as though he is testing the boundaries of love – I read an article on teenagers – those that yell they hate you are secure in their knowledge that you love them, it’s those that tiptop around ‘being good’ who are scared of losing your love. It’s an interesting way to look at it. Perhaps at 7 he is pre-empting being left again? No idea how you let him know that won’t happen. Words are not enough at that age. Good luck. #KCALCOLS

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    • feelingmumyet says:

      Hello Lydia and welcome! Yes, he is worried about moving again so he rejects us before we could reject him, it’s self defence… very sad and he refuses to believe us when we repeatedly say he is not going anywhere… Thanks for reading and commenting

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  12. Kerrie says:

    I completely get what your going through, we too have a 8 year old adopted son who does the same as your boys, the shouting the running out the door, the CPV, on both myself and my hubby. He has done this since he arrived at 16 months, and yes it is usually due to change in pattern, routine, or emotional grappling which seems to really be about believing he is just not good enough and not worthy of our love. We recently adopted a little girl of two, and this has helped in many ways him understand his relationship with us but hasn’t helped him feel any more worthy, if anything he feels that he is just a bad boy and unlovable no matter how much we tell him we love him, so now his behaviour has deteriated at home. He holds it all together at school so he must trust us but it is hard parenting a child who try’s his hardest to make you not love him. I really hope it works out for you and your boys, as I do for our little fellow too, thanks for sharing, I feel a little less alone with this when I read your post.
    And that helps a lot,

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    • feelingmumyet says:

      Hi Kerrie! Thanks for taking the time to write; it goes both ways too! It helps me too when I hear that we are not the only ones… I hope so too that it works out for both our families! Hang in there!

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  13. Alana - Burnished Chaos says:

    I wish I had some pearls of wisdom to offer but I’m afraid I don’t. One thing that is clear though is that you have such a great understanding of their anxieties and how it impacts their behaviour. Consistency is key, eventually they will learn to trust in the consistency that you provide them even when all about them is changing. Sending hugs and best wishes x
    #FabFridayPost

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  14. So Happy In Town (@SoHappyInTown) says:

    We all wrongly presume that all children will just love the carefree structure of the holidays but for children such as your boys, this is obviously such a scary time for them when their structure is disrupted and they don’t feel the security they need. My child for other reasons hates the change each year, of teacher and classroom and finds it very hard for quite a while to adjust. You obviously give the boys your everything in your strength and love and commitment and I am hoping that they will gradually lose some of their fears but I have just read your comment about and I am so sorry that has happened to 7 last night. Must be so incredibly tough, nobody else can imagine unless they’ve been through it. #PostsFromTheHeart

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  15. Lucy At Home says:

    Oh this must be so hard. We try to explain as clearly as we can what might happen in the day (e.g. you might have some free play this afternoon – what do you think you might choose to play with?), but sometimes it’s impossible to predict and even the teachers don’t know what will be happening.

    I try to keep a routine going through the holidays as I find it works best for us. It’s more relaxed and I don’t stress out if we don’t rigidly keep to it, but it gives us a structure. I hope that you find some ways to get around this disruptive, confusing time #blogcrush

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  16. Mrs Mummy Harris says:

    I completely understand about the change of structure in a day. When you have structure, you know what the day ahead has in store for you and for the boys who are constantly worrying about what could be lurking around the corner, to have a set day planned to a tee gives them a sense of security. Im sure you’ve already considered this, but do you have a summer routine in place? like a daily timetable that could give the boys structure in the absence of school?
    Thank you for sharing this with us at #TriumphantTales. I hope to see you back next week.

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  17. Mummy Times Two says:

    Sending much love to you. My Number One has autism so often also struggles with the lack of structure in the holidays, we tend to have a schedule even when we are at home so we have some kind of expected routine to follow. #PostsFromTheHeart

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    • feelingmumyet says:

      Hi, we also have a schedule for days and also for the entire holidays, plus visual time table to help with structure but lately even that doesn’t work 😦 Thanks for reading and commenting

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  18. mommyandrory says:

    It sounds like a very difficult and challenging situation but your clearly doing an amazing job. I hope that you manage to find some structure and balance over the holidays. Thanks for been so open about something which must be quite difficult to discuss. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time.

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  19. Someone's Mum says:

    I am so sorry that the teacher did not tell you. When I was a teacher, I would absolutely inform parents of such things – it is so important. The holidays can be very challenging for us too but it sounds like you are doing your absolute best to make things easier for them. Thanks so much for linking with #spectrumsunday. We hope you join us again.

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  20. Accidental Hipster Mum says:

    Oh goodness, what a precarious position to be in, you must feel on edge a lot of the time, and your poor boys! I hope this summer isn’t too stressful for you or the kids.

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next time

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