Thursday, February 16, 2012

Random Notes on Therapeutic Parenting

I am currently reading and taking notes on Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen.  This book brings to light so many important points and causes my brain to web all over the place.  :-)  This is my attempt to process, retain, and apply the tremendous principles discussed in the book.  This is a mish-mash of her thoughts and mine.  Please join me as I ramble.

These are some things to keep in mind early in the placement and to continue to consider as your child grows.

Attachment in kids with complex backgrounds may not will not be a stable, upward curve.  It will be erratic and jumpy.  Gains are thrilling, but they might be lost at the first sign of stress.  Things you thought you'd beaten come back when you least expect it.  It's two steps forward, one step back.  (Sometimes, you fall backward off the cliff.)  That's the nature of the beast.  This requires long-term intervention.  It's a lifetime commitment.

Be the detective.  Think about what your child may have lived through that would cause this fear/behavior.  Even if it's not what really happened (a lot of it is a guessing game), it will help you to see your child through the eyes of compassion.

Respond immediately to needs.  It will not spoil them.  If needs are never met immediately, your child will never mature past "baby".

Early on, behave as if the child asked appropriately.  If your newly adopted child screams for water, give them water.  Then show them how civilized people ask for water.  You would never deprive a baby her milk because she cried for it.  This newly adopted child needs to know that her voice matters.  She needs to know that you care and that you will meet her needs.  There will be a time to learn ettiquette later.

There are no easy if/then parenting scenarios when parenting kids from hard places.  It will require getting to the core issues.  In order to heal they must deal with the gut-wrenching big questions.  Sometimes you will find something that "works" to stop a behavior, but more often, you will need to bring your child to a new way of thinking/feeling in order for the behavior to stop.  This is hard work, but it is incredibly rewarding. 

Blessings to you,

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