I am a day late on this post. We must have had too much fun this weekend because I totally forgot to read this chapter on Sunday. We trick-or-treated with Ellie and Shay (our niece & nephew) also known as Raggedy Ann and Andy.
I was sort of hoping we would get a new placement by now but no such luck. Maybe tomorrow.
I did finally sit down tonight and read Chapter Four: Disarming the Fear Response with Felt Safety. Adopted and foster child may display behavior – tantrums, aggression, hyperactivity – all triggered by fear. As parents, we must do our best to make them feel safe and secure.
A lot of this chapter is so logical. The steps that Dr. Purvis encourages to promote a child’s sense of security and safety make sense immediately but they require consistency and commitment. Parents should can reduce stress by sticking to a predictable schedule and teaching their child coping skills. We saw the benefits of a schedule with M & T while they were with us. I think older kids would benefit from a visual chart-like schedule that shows them how each day will look through words and/or pictures.
Dr. Purvis gives a lot of great advice on how to help you child feel safe. Pain and fear can cause children to be overly independent. Dr. Purvis encourages parents to be approachable.
One way to accomplish this is by getting down to their height level, either by crouching or kneeling, before speaking to them. Once there, use a nonthreatening voice that is calm and modulated.
Another strategy is to pair ourselves with things the child enjoys and likes. So offer toys and gum, for example, in a gesture of friendliness. Rather than sending the child off to play alone with the toy, join him or her in play or watch and compliment their efforts.
When a child does begin to approach voluntarily and open up, reward the behavior. Respond with affection, interest, a warm voice, and smiling eyes – never scolding.
See what I mean? It is so simple yet we struggle to do these things. We need to be so intentional in parenting these children.
We can also help children feel safe by honoring their emotions and respecting their life story. These kids are dealing with a lot on top of the everyday difficulties of growing up. We need to respect their feelings and help them learn how to express them in a healthy way.