May 29, 2013

A New Look

    Well my little girl has glasses.  Chloe tested a little fare sited at the eye doctor and was getting headaches when watching TV.  She will have to wear them for 3 weeks all the time and then after that just as she needs for reading and electronics.  I think she looks so much older.  Thankfully the eye irritation she struggled with several years ago seems to be better.  Some Asian kids have this trouble, because their eyelashes can actually turn in against their eyes and rub every time they blink.  Surgery is sometimes required depending on the severity.  Chloe saw a specialist and just as he predicted, she has outgrown the problem.
    Emotionally, Chloe continues to struggle.  This regression seems to have it's core problem with her self-concept.  As an abandoned child, it is natural to assume they were a bad baby for their birth mom to leave them.  So it is with Chloe.  To compound that problem, Chloe was then placed in an orphanage where she didn't get the nurturing and attention that an infant needs.  She has also assumed that she was a bad baby at the orphanage and that is why the nannies did not pay more attention to her.  Arleta James, Chloe's attachment therapist, explained it this way.  Everyone's self-concept is like a piggy bank.  As an infant, each time you accomplish something like rolling over, smiling, or making funny sounds, you constantly get positive responses from others. (smiles, "what a good baby", kisses, etc.) Each one puts a token in your piggy bank.  Chloe is missing the first 8 months worth of tokens in her bank while she was at the orphanage and it has left her with a big self-concept hole.
    This week she stayed with her sister while I took the other 2 girls to the dentist.  The night before, she was begging to go along on the hour long car ride with me and cried in her bed because I was going to be gone.  She woke up during the night and couldn't sleep because she was so upset.  I assumed the issue was fear for my return, but as we began to unpack it at therapy today, the real issue came out.  I took some of her sisters and not Chloe.  She felt left out and unloved because I didn't take her with me.  Her focus has been a constant comparison to see if I love her more than her 3 sisters.  It is her attempt to make herself feel valuable.

    Arleta went on to explain to Chloe that she and her sisters are like 4 quarters and Mommy loves them all the same.  This of course did not make her happy.  Chloe would much rather be worth a pile of coins while her sisters are only worth a quarter.  When we went on to explain that Daddy is worth 2 quarters to Mommy and I love him more than my daughters, this created a whole new explosion of emotion.  She was not at all happy to find out she was not my top dog.  In reality, she is just doing her best to cope with what is lacking from her past. Chloe reminds me of so many others who look for ways to feel good about themselves in all the wrong places. We have a ways to go to build up that self-concept, but I'm pleased to be on the way.
    If you are looking for some books that might help to built your child's self-esteem, here are a few to check out:
        When I Feel Good About Myself
        Why Am I Here?
        I'm Gonna Like Me
For older children:
        What's Up With Self-Esteem Workbook