Re: Kayla's been suspended from school
Amy, she is pushing you away because it's safer than to attach and be rejected yet again. Punishing her is not the strategy here.
On the contrary. You have a UNIQUE opportunity now.
You can PROVE to her that even when her behavior is so bad that she can get suspended from school, YOU STILL LOVE HER.
Her behavior is a cry for help, and I hope you can see it that way.
What she needs right now is for you to get into her room, sit down on the floor, hug her and cry together and not let go, not let go out of your arms even if it means rocking her and holding her for hours, and tell her that school is secondary, what matters now is to understand what is going on with her, why she is so unhappy, what is going on. What she needs to hear now, is "let me help you", and "tell me what's going on, I really want to listen to it".
And yes, this is going to be SCARY for her, and she is going to act out worst for a little while, because she is testing your love. Is it real? Can she count on it? Better know now. Better get rejected now just like her mom did, anyway people die or abandon you, they hurt you and punish you and control you and humiliate you, so better now anyway. This is what is happening.
She needs love. More than ever.
You will know you have reached catharsis when she starts crying and sobbing because of your listening and love, when you can get her to admit how lonely and angry she is, when she can SAY IT ALOUD and share the depth of her pain with you and feel validated by it, and when EVEN AFTER that you still act with love and care and warmth.
Only then, can you address the issue itself - and when you do, don't punish. Simply ask HER to offer suggestions about what she can do.
Please do not let her distract you back to the original punishing routine.
You cannot win this situation through more control.
Nicolas, Family Life Educator
"Ever Failed? No Matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better." - Samuel Beckett