Tag Archives: Discipline

Top 3 Shifts for New Adoptive Parents

From one adoptive parent to another I am no professional and so my perspective is as a parent, same as you.  It is easy to fall into thinking that parenting your adopted children with the same ways of thinking and parenting other children should have similar effects, but in my experience and from what I have learned from others it absolutely does not.

I want to touch on just three shifts that I think will help adoptive parents and their children in practical everyday experience.

The first shift is to add visual language. Since our adopted children were not native English speakers, one of the first glaring need was that of basic communication! Our youngest is deaf and hears now with a cochlear implant but still struggles with English. As the old saying goes, “if I had known then what I know now. . .” well, now I recommend adding visual language in your first year home (regardless of hearing status) and preparing ahead of time to do so.  While it seems like an extra step in the hurry to get them fluent in English, the extra effort will pay off.  If your child has any language delay or is switching primary languages I strongly recommend everyone in the household taking time to learn the basics of a visual (sign) language prior to bringing your child home and continuing to learn along with him/her.  Even if there is no language delay or language switch, I think adding a sign language component is a fun way to do something as a family, to have a bit of a secret code that not everyone will know (but some will – and that’s fun too!).  Plus, when a child can sign to communicate at times when they are too overwhelmed to use their voice it can be a huge way to stave off frustration.

Is is worth the effort and time to put into learning to sign? In the long run, a second language (or third) will only help.  ASL is a beautiful language that with fluency can open doors of opportunity.

We learned (and later saw it in our own children) that children who are moved away from their native language (as was ours with an international adoption) typically lose the native language gains faster than the gains they acquire in their new language.  As language builds upon language, the basics of a visual language can be learned rapidly and serve as a bridge to a more complex spoken language (and a great start to learning sign language) Language builds upon language. And building a new relationship with understanding, trust and attachment requires communication.

The whole family can begin to learn the sign language alphabet and some basic words and phrases while waiting for adoption finalization and continue learning together once the new child/children are home.  Children are very visual and pick it up easily.

Signing Time videos are a great child friendly start which adults can learn from, too. Lifeprint.com has a free video course which is terrific for parents.

The second shift I recommend is in the perspective toward stuff. While it may be tempting for you and all your friends and relatives to shower your new little darling with tons of new stuff, it is better to temper the urge and keep it simple.

Let friends and relatives know in the most tactful way possible that you have chosen to follow the advice not to overwhelm your child with gifts, but to focus more on personal relationships. An alternative for those who insist on giving something would be to suggest gift cards that you can use at a later time for your child’s needs.  Or perhaps a family membership to a local zoo.   (Along the same line is to avoid overwhelming them with crowds of people initially and keep it to smaller get-togethers spaced out over time.)

Finally, the third and most counter-intuitive big shift adoptive parents can make is in thinking about discipline.

Because of their backgrounds the typical rewards and consequences not only may not have the desired effects but may totally backfire!  Trauma and neglect plus a host of other possible issues can predispose your child to think in a way that defies logic.  Suffice it to say that instead of connecting the dots (Behavior X leads to Consequence Y, therefore if I do not like Y, I must not do X) responses to consequences and rewards seem often to result in reinforcing undesired behavior and/or thinking.

If you find that typical parenting techniques frequently leave you wondering what just happened over a period of time, I recommend seeking out knowledgeable, professional help.

Be proactive in these three shifts: adding a visual language bridge; prioritizing relationships building over stuff, setting firm boundaries on allowed items; and have trauma-informed understanding of discipline.  You will find it is time well spent to be ahead of the curve.

Proverbs 3:5 says Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding . . .”

 

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them tools to help. While not a substitute for professional help when needed, there are some natural products we have begun using in our family that make a big difference in helping kids (and their parents) be ready to learn appropriate ways of coping with their big feelings, to focus and be more settled.

If you think it might be helpful for your family to learn more about these products feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to fill you in.

 

Self-sabotage

20171226_092851.jpgThis may seem an odd topic for Christmas time.  But it’s an issue I think many people face, including many once orphans.

It is incredibly frustrating to a parent or one who is trying to motivate or help the child who seems bent on self-sabotage! My best conclusion is to work around it as much as possible.  And let myself be okay with that!

I do recommend (to myself as well as to you) to be aware that behind this behavior is a need. Perhaps a deep, hidden wound that is crying out for attention, soothing, healing. Perhaps fearful feelings of the unknown, overwhelm, loss of control, or pressure of expectations.

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD” ~ Jeremiah 30:17

Just as with a surface wound, like a gash on the knee after a bicycle wreck, the thought of it being touched and  further pain, can result in a flinch or pulling away from the very treatment that would bring relief and speed healing.

(At the risk of overdoing this analogy, I ask your indulgence.)

We can see the open wound and know it needs cleaning. Hopefully we can explain to our resistant child that it needs cleansing, treating and bandaging, in a simple, gentle way. Hopefully they will trust us enough to cooperate and bear the fearful touch that they are so wary of for the brief moments necessary.

But with the hidden wounds that show up in frustrating behaviors it is not always so clear what is needed or how to go about getting cooperation from our child.

Because the underlying wound is hidden, it is likely that neither the child nor the adult completely comprehends what the wound is or exactly how to “treat” it.

Why my 15 year old daughter decapitated all the gingerbread cookies is just one of her baffling behaviors.  Her refusal to come out of her bedroom for our simple Christmas family meal and the next day skipping out on going across town to spend holiday time with extended family from out of town is backwards to what we would normally expect. Plus declaring she doesn’t like any of her presents seems strange!

From what I have gleaned from other parents, this is a mild version of the types of behaviors many children have, especially on special occassions.

My youngest child has an all or nothing reaction that is self sabotaging.  If he cannot have something now it must mean never. If he cannot have all it must mean none.

Unraveling the effects of early childhood trauma and helping the children heal from it is a long term process.  For me, it has taken a great deal of prayer, research, commitment and self control as well as active listening to arrive at some glimpses into the woundedness of my children.  Every layer of healing is progress!

I am happy we made it through Christmas with as little overall turmoil as we did.  One of the lessons I have been practicing is that my joy comes from the inside out.  It cannot depend upon the emotional state of my children or their behaviors.  The more they are out of control, the more controlled and non-reactive I must be.  The more I have to find my peace in my relationship with God.

Two or three of my children exhibit behaviors associated with Reactive Attachment Disorder.  While I am not a doctor and do not presume to know all the ins and outs of RAD, as a parent, my opinion is that at least some of these behaviors stem from their traumatic (painful) background in which their trust in adults, primarily those who were supposed to protect, provide for and love them, was broken.  Broken trust is a difficult thing for an adult to deal with – -ask anyone who has been through a divorce — but for a young child, who may have been physically injured/damaged by abuse and/or neglect, the broken trust trains their young brain to view the world as suspect, ESPECIALLY those who get “too close”.  The self-sabotaging reactions  (which seem to them as self-preservation) to perceived threats are sometime difficult to unravel.

Baby steps are progress.  Once hidden pain points have been partially unravelled in starts and stops in our family. We have also made some great baby steps in healing this year.

My job is to protect the progress.

I hope my end of year ramblings have given you pause to think about the possible pain points behind any of your children’s self-sabotaging behaviors and helped you some way.

ASIDE:  By the way, I have found a lot of success in general in calming anxiety and impulsive behaviors, and to support focus and overall health with a group of natural wellness products that support not only my adopted children, but the entire family!  They are available for purchase through me with Oils for Orphans. If you would like to know more just let me know and I’d be happy to share what is working for us!

Wishing you & your families —

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

 

 

 

“Orphan mentality”

You may be wondering just what is meant by the term, “orphan mentality”.  As an orphan advocate and adoptive parent, I have observed (along with many others who are much more expert than I) some particular differences that are often manifested in someone having an orphan viewpoint or mentality rather than the viewpoint of a person who has a confident assurance that they are a beloved child. We deal with these types f differences day in and day out.

While children, orphans from traumatic backgrounds, may demonstrate traits of an orphan mentality more strongly, more intensely and/or more overtly than others in general, I have found that it is not strictly limited to orphans.

Here are a couple of examples:

First, a child who has an orphan mentality, though he is in a family with loving parents may view a minor correction as a sign that he is not loved or valued, whereas a child who is confident of his parents’ love and acceptance may feel a slight sting of guilt at disappointing a parent but understand that they are still deeply loved and valued, and can be taught that even the correction is made from the parent’s loving concern for their well-being.

Secondly, a child confident of their parents’ love might show annoyance at the correction, or even voice their disagreement, but still have an underlying understanding that regardless of the parent-child conflict there is a foundation of unconditional love and acceptance; whereas the orphan mentality says they have done nothing wrong, are their own judge of what is right for them, and their disdain for this parent who dares attempt to correct them. It has to do with the foundation. The foundation of love and acceptance, protection and provision, safety and security must be built but it is much, much easier to establish when there is not already an opposing foundation from a traumatic background and in place.

As a child of God I know I am valued and dearly loved by my Creator, yet I sometimes get into a bit of an orphan mentality, feeling like I am unloved, or like I have not done anything wrong and should not be corrected. The stronger the foundation of love and acceptance, the more consistently in touch with God I am, the quicker and easier to overcome this type of sinkhole thinking.

I have noticed as well that the orphan mentality is self-perpetuating to a degree. A person feels like the world is against them and so they find “evidence” to back up this belief and it grows stronger and stronger. This tendency makes it hard to battle and overcome.

Orphan or not, belonging to the family of God is available to everyone who sincerely calls on the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness. That is because you are dearly loved and precious, so precious and valuable that God sent his son, Jesus to suffer and die in order to have a relationship with you.

Matthew 7:25  says, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”  Jesus is the rock that provides a firm foundation for us as well as our children.

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent, I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them tools to help. While not a substitute for professional help when needed, there are some natural products we have begun using in our family that make a big difference in helping kids (and their parents) be ready to learn appropriate ways of coping with their big feelings, to focus and be more settled.  Let me know if you are interested in learning more about specific products.

If you like this blog post you may like to check out and follow the Yesterday’s Orphan Facebook public page here, or if you are a parent/caregiver and would like to join our closed member Families group you can do so here.

Lastly, if you are interested in the natural products I’m using to support our health while avoiding many common toxins comment and ask me.  I’m happy to share!