Friday, December 18, 2009

The Connected Child

This is another review of a book that we read for our adoption agency.  I liked this one much better than the first one I wrote about.  This book is called The Connected Child: bring hope and healing to your adopted family.  Here are some of the things that stuck with me.

This book discussed some of the challenges that a child may face after being institutionalized.  Deprivation and harm suffered early in life impact all the ways a child develops – coordination, ability to learn, social skills, size, and neurochemistry.  This is why formerly neglected/abused children are predisposed to attachment difficulties, conduct disorder, depression, anxiety, attention deficits, etc.
Common obstacles to attachment:  child carriers, time-outs, lack of eye contact, TV & electronic games

An infant who is rarely touched or spoken too in the first year of life can suffer mental & behavioral impairments.  Children raised in an impoverished institution may exhibit the following behaviors/characteristics:  food hoarding, crossed eyes (from staring at the ceiling), fear of new places/people, indiscriminate friendliness, self-comforting repetitive behaviors

You can learn a lot about your child by careful observation.  Small details of body language and behavior will convey a message that they child is unable to communicate with words.  You may learn what is behind outbursts simply by observing.

As a result of early neglect, adopted kids have suboptimal brain chemistry.  This can be improved by such things a eating healthy meals at regular interval to keep glucose levels within normal range.  Note that medication solves only about 30% of behavioral problems.  This a nice thing for me to read.  There were times, when I was still working in retail pharmacy that I really wanted to have a talk with a parent about the importance of discipline.  There were so many kids on ADHD meds, some of who needed & truly benefited from the medications. . .but there were those other kids whose parents simply wanted a magic pill to control their child.

Cortisol is a hormone that is activated by an responds to stress.  When children have too much cortisol in their system it can lead to undesirable behaviors.  By helping your child feel safe, you can actually optimize cortisol levels and allow your child’s brain to work better.  Some things that can reduce chronic fear:  alert child to upcoming activities and make their day predictable, prevent sensory overload

Offering a child choices helps them feel empowered.  Offer them two choices, not 5. . .you are not their to be their genie in a bottle.

See misbehavior as an opportunity to teach a child new skills.  Don’t take misbehavior personally.  Offer a “do-over” when a child misbehaves so they will learn what is appropriate.  Maintain a respectful atmosphere. Encourage child to “use their words” when you see a tantrum coming.  To avoid tantrums and meltdowns in public:  establish choices before you get to your destination & rehearse your child for what’s coming

Keep your child close by when they are being disciplined.  Sending a child who has attachment issue to their room or to time-out only reinforces the feeling of isolation. Let the down child easy with the sandwich technique:  surround a corrective statement with two positive statements.
Present a united front at home and at school.  If your child says “daddy said I could ____”, always verify that 1st.  If child says their teacher said something mean, let them you know you take their concern seriously & schedule a meeting with the teacher.  Don’t automatically jump to child’s side – they might be manipulating you.

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