Verse of the Day

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Adjustment Issues for the Older Child

Yeah, life can be a little challenging... especially when you're dealing with a grieving child. Grief can present itself such a interesting array of attitudes and actions: screaming, crying (regular and "fake"), "extreme pouting" (a.k.a pouting lasting longer than 30 minutes), tantrums, eating too little/too much, sleeping problems, etc.

I think the most important issue to keep in mind is that you are the adult. You are the one who needs to keep his or her attitude in check and in balance. One critical help is being prepared (e.g. reading tons of books); the other is finding the time to be in God's Word for daily refreshment. I find that the mornings I have gotten up before the sun, to connect with the Son are the days I can respond in a Biblical fashion to my children. The days that I get up late and just "wing it," are the days I find myself resorting to old and often unproductive ways of dealing with my children (read "screaming.")

My social worker, Lisa Peterson of Building Arizona Families, also gave me some good advice. She said if a child is just throwing an absolute fit and can't calm down, try the "hug hold." It works! When my little girl is losing control (screaming, spitting, biting, kicking, hitting), I simply sit on the floor in a straddle position. I pull the child up next to me; her back to my tummy. I wrap her arms around herself, and then I wrap my arms around her. If she is really out of control, I gently rest my legs on hers. While in this position--- all wrapped us-- I pray out loud. I sing out loud. I bless her out loud. I rock her. It gives her a safe place to just scream and cry--- . Be prepared to be in this position a while (lean up against the bed or a wall). I have found real success with this very simple type of intervention. Thank you, Lisa!

Some of the other ideas that help children adjust are just plain common sense: limit stimulation, offer familiar foods, establish regular routines, keep outside visitors and activities to a minimum, limit gifts. From two first hand experiences involving being children home at Christmas time: limit, limit, limit! You may think your child is doing just fine with life--- and then they go into hyper drive or crying fits. We have to remember the severe culture shock these kids endure, and the conflicting emotions they must be feeling.

Other tips that have worked for us during the first month include: individual bath times (with infant bath toys), individual reading times, and lots of singing. To help with my stress level I also order groceries online and do any shopping I can online for clothing, etc. My kids get very wild in the stores, so avoiding them for now is optimal!

Three books I found helpful in my preparation as an adoptive mom are:

"The Connected Child: Bringing Help and Healing to your Adopted Family," by Karyn Purvis
"After the Dream Comes True," by Michelle Gardner
"Attaching in Adoption, Practical Tools for Today's Parents," by Deborah Gray

Books I found helpful after the child has been home for a while (child is fluent in English and understands instruction):

"The Heart of Anger," by Lou Priolo
"Parenting by Scripture," by Kara Durbin
"Say Goodbye to Whining, Complaining, and Bad Attitudes in You and Your Kids," by Scott Turansky

Some of these books I have read in great detail; others I skimmed for the "pearls."

Bottom line is this: have numerous parenting tactics in your arsenal. Every child is different, but every child is a sinner who needs love, correction, and guidance. Every child adopted internationally is going to have some sort of grief. Our Guatemalan daughter who has been home over 2 years has periods of grief and unsavory behavior at every major life change. Few of us would be able to relate to the unimaginable stress and sadness our children have endured. Be prepared to ask for help... even professional help, if need be.

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