Believe me when I tell you that you are definitely not alone if you have never heard the phrase “stuck in his perseverance”. This was a new one to me…I just heard of it for the first time within the past few months…even though I’ve been in the foster care/adoption world for almost a decade.
And in spite of the fact that it was some thing I have experienced with my kiddo for many years now.
But enough about the fact that you might not know what it means… just tell us already, right?
So long story short: when a child is in the middle of doing some thing (and it can be a good or bad thing) and he becomes mentally stuck on doing what he’s doing and is unable to disengage from it.
One example from my own life, and there could be many, honestly, is playing at a park. My son loves to play at the park. Fresh air, sunshine, meeting new friends…it’s all the things. But when it’s time to go, unless all the other kids are gone, and/or it is dark outside, he does not want to leave.
On the outside, I do my best to remain calm (which allows him to help borrow my calm), but on the inside, I might be screaming, because it looks like defiance. And it can (and does) feel really embarrassing to me. If I’m totally honest, that’s one of the hardest parts of my child being stuck in his perseverance…it looks like defiance and I’m embarrassed because of what others might be thinking.
And to most people, defiance is exactly what they think it is. And maybe, sometimes it is under the guise of perseverance. But what I have to remember, and I’ll be honest I don’t always remember because it can be really frustrating (and embarrassing) when it happens in public, but what I must remember is that my child is not giving me a hard time…my child is having a hard time. So I need to be there to help him make that transition, even when it’s difficult.
One way I like to explain it to someone is that a wagon rolling along in a rutted road is just fine as long as it is in the rut; the trouble comes when the wagon needs to turn out of the ruts and it’s practically impossible to do so. Often times it’s a somewhat ugly process in which the wagon might tip, it might rock, things might spill out, and it’s a whole messy business.
Clearly stuck in perseverance is not something only kiddos from hard place is struggle with, but it is more often seen in this demographic.
So how, as a foster parent (or any adult in this situation), should I handle this? Well, I am definitely not an expert, but this is my go-to plan (when I’m on my A-game): this is where my TBRI training does come in quite handy. Don’t get me wrong, it’s handy all day, every day. But here is where I really feel like I draw on it the most consistently. I stay with him, encourage him to make a good choice, give him choices, and above all else, I stay calm. I cannot stress this enough: set aside what I might be feeling, what I think others are thinking of me and him in the moment and just stay calm.
You may be noticing a theme, because I’m fairly certain I’ve said this, and multiple other posts, but in spite of what others may be thinking about me at the time, I need to set that aside, and focus in on what my child needs, and how I can best help him.
I know you might be thinking that it sounds silly that it feels embarrassing, because I’m not the one who’s being defiant, but it is embarrassing to me. We probably all been there some point…you’re in public and your child is not doing what you asked, or what they know they need to do.
But let me tell you: stuck in perseverance is like that, but to the nth degree. And as with all behaviors that are undesirable, it’s not something your child would want. No one would ever choose that or choose to display these behaviors. The trauma brain just can’t do what it needs to do. Which is where we come in to play, as trauma-informed foster parents.
So I hope my brief explanation of what it means and how best to cope with it as a foster parent gives each of you insight and understanding…and encouragement to know that you’re not alone in your experiences in this journey.