The Connected Child (Chapter 8)

I’m way, way behind. But we are daily using things I’ve read in The Connected Child and I’m determined to finish the book soon.

Chapter Eight is called Nurturing at Every Opportunity. In this chapter, Dr. Purvis gives lots of practical tips on how to better nurture your child and cultivate a healthy, positive self-perception. I remember in elementary school, there was lots and lots about “self-esteem” which has made me little skeptical of this kind of stuff. However, we know that harmed and adopted children often suffer from negative self-image due to feelings of rejection or failure. It is our job to help them.

Dr. Purvis talks about the power of play and fun, something I need to continually work on. It just does not seem to come to me very naturally. However, the other night, the boys and I had a little dance party (in all honesty, this is something I love to do). It was playful and we got to do it together. I just need to remember there are things like this that I can do easily. Often times, I am less willing to “play” because I want to get something done but I am working on leaving chores for later.

This was a really practical exercise that the book lays out for parents:

Let Your Child Lead: A Nurturing Exercise

Here is a joyful, nurturing, and fun exercise for families.

Set a timer for fifteen minutes. During this period:

  • Turn off your phones. Take no phone calls.
  • Do no dishes, cleaning or other chores.
  • Focus your full, undivided attention on the child.
  • Let yourself be directed in play by your child.

Allow the youngster to lead in whatever game or play activity he or she chooses. While you participate, practice being affectionate and warm. Make many positive comments and offer praise and soft eye contact in a way that shows the child how much you value him or her. Become attuned to your child’s guidance and delight. Let your child lead the activity, and subtly match his or her physical motions and speech patterns. For example, if your child sits on the floor and plays with his right hand, you do the same. Relax and enjoy the moment, following the flow of whatever play satisfies the soul of your child.

So simple, I totally have at least 15 minutes (if not more) per day to do this with each boy.

Other things I found really helpful:

1. A reminder to redirect your child gently when they lose focus on the task at hand, rather than irritated nagging.

2. Filling your child’s “trust bank” with lots and lots of positive statements about who they are.

3. Considering the timing of things when trying to talk about feelings. In the middle of a meltdown, is not the time.

Dr. Purvis also talks about how critical touch is for children. Dr. Tiffany Field of the Touch Research Institute is quoted in this chapter.

Our studies show that most children are just not getting an adequate amount of touch during the day. They need hugs and carrying around and kisses and pats on the back. It would be very healthy if a child got a normal dose of touch, plus a massage a day.

From having cared for a baby this year, I know how much time I spent in contact with T. Babies from day one, in healthy homes, get lots of touch. I don’t know a lot about what our boys’ early lives were like. They are comfortable with hugs and kisses. At times they still want to be carried, which may be silly for kids their age (and size). However, I’ve kind of decided as long as I can carry them, I’m going to take the opportunity to do so. I didn’t get to do that with them as babies and I’m hoping to make up for a little lost time with them. It may look funny to see us carrying around our forty-pound, almost-five-year-old but it seems like a positive thing for him right now.

Avoidant parents sometimes have the mistaken assumption that they’re teaching independence by keeping their distance. However, many adopted and foster children have already endured too much distance and were required to be prematurely independent, to their detriment. Ongoing, close nurturing is critically important for them.

Okay, on to chapter nine.

3 thoughts on “The Connected Child (Chapter 8)

  1. Sounds like a great book.
    From experience I can say, independent children happen when dependency is satisfied – not by forcing it. I think the avoidant parents miss the boat a lot…and mistake their children’s happy social faces for real emotion. Good luck.

  2. I really enjoyed this post…it was the encouragement I needed today. Sometimes as an adoptive parent, I forget that my child needs to be handled differently, even though it seems like we’ve made such progress (like when he crawls in to my husbands lap to watch a movie, or reminds me that moms and dads job is to protect their children). Coming from another country, he’s also had the added set back of language. I still hold my little man because I know the time is coming when he either won’t want me to hold him (which is already happening…sometimes I have to beg him to let me hold him!) or he’ll get too big to hold. And I’ve missed so much of his life already. Sometimes I feel like I’m mothering him too much (I get those “what are you doing holding him” looks often), but I cherish that time because he puts his sweet little cheek up to mine, or goes limp in my arms, both signaling that he knows I’m a safe haven for him. And it really wasn’t that long ago that he arched his back in my arms, unsure of who this crazy dancing woman was (I, too, dance and make up songs on the fly), but she sure seemed nice.

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