Monday, February 20, 2012

Discipline and Adopted Children

Our Adoption Agency provided us with discipline guidelines for our internationally adopted children.  I thought I would share this information with other adoptive parents.

In Country & Initial Adjustment Period (1 to 3 Months):

- provide clear, consistent, tight boundaries
- do not discipline most behaviors
- be supportive of emotional behaviors due
       to grief, loss, transition and adjustment

After Initial Adjustment Period (3 to 12 Months):

-provide clear, consistent, tight boundaries
-never use physical discipline or withholding of
      food and other items of necessity
-use as few words as possible
-for younger kids, use redirection or distraction
-use "time-ins" rather than "time-outs" - the child
      will be with you during the "time-in" either
      right next to you or in the same room while you
      complete a task
-take away a privilege (riding bike, tv show, etc)
-let safe natural consequences happen
-give an extra chore that will benefit the family
-all discipline should end with love and then forget
      about it
-use lots of positive reinforcement, tell him when
      he is doing well, praise good behaviors even if
      they are small

Long-Term (after 12 to 18 mos. Home):

-continue what is stated above
-add in age appropriate discipline and reward 
     systems that work for his individual personality

These are general guidelines (provided by AGCI) for disciplining your adopted child.  Additional
information relating to most of these guidelines can be found in the books I have listed at the bottom of this page.  

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Plan for Bonding with your Adopted Child

Our adoption agency provided us with a 6 week attachment plan to build a foundation for bonding with the twins. We are going to begin this plan as soon as we have the kids with us. I thought I would share the plan with other adoptive families.  The plan itself is fairly straight forward.  Implementing it may seem a bit daunting. But, keep in mind that it is for only 6 weeks. Although, some of these items you may want to continue.  The plan may require minor adjustments to fit in with your family dynamics.

Here is the plan:

 1. One parent should be within 6 feet of the child at all times. The "staying close" concept is to show your
child that you will always be there for him. He needs to trust that you will always be there in order for him to attach to you.

 2. Only the parents should take care of his needs. Only the parents and siblings should hold the child. Your child needs to learn what a parent is. He may be use to several different adults taking care of him at different times during the day. He may think any adult is there to meet his needs. For him to attach to you, you need to meet any and all of his needs.  He needs to learn to depend on you.

 3. Your child should be fed on your lap by hand whenever possible.  Feeding your child by hand is a great opportunity to encourage eye contact. Babies bond with their moms during numerous feedings and lots of eye contact. Bonding with food is a natural way to connect with your child.

 4. Several times per day hold your child like a baby and rock him in a rocking chair. Gently encourage eye contact by talking to him, singing, or telling stories. Every time he makes eye contact with you, give him a drink of warm milk from a sippy cup or a piece of caramel. This activity goes along with #4. It replicates the bonding experiences of a baby with his mother during feeding times.

 5. A parent should sleep as close to the child as possible. Your child needs to learn that you are always there to meet his needs. Being available to him as soon as he needs you, even during the night, will help him to connect to you.

Now, for our family, a few adjustments to the plan our necessary.  We are bringing home two children.  Our children our 7 years old.  They may not want us to hand feed them.  Plus, it would be really hard for me to hand feed each of them for all meals.  Based on a suggestion from our home study social worker, we will sit near our children during meal times and encourage eye contact.  We will also serve each meal item separately.  For example, first we will give them potatoes.  Then we will serve them chicken. Then their vegetables.  This will give them the opportunity to connect with us via eye contact several times throughout the meal.

We will do the rocking activity at least before nap time and before bed time.  I especially want to use a sippy cup to provide both sucking and eye contact opportunities.

Either my husband or myself will be with the twins at all times for the initial 6 weeks.  This primarily means me since my husband will be at work during the day and into the early evening hours.  And yes, I will be loading them in and out of the car numerous times per day to run the other kids to and from school, practices, games, etc.  Although, it would be easier to leave them with one of their sisters!  And yes, my husband and I will provide for all of their needs.  From bathing to getting them a snack from the cupboard to putting on a bandaid.  It is very important that they learn that we are their parents and parents are responsible for their children forever.

I did purchase a blow-up twin mattress for me to sleep on in their bedroom.  I plan on being in their room until they fall sleep each night.  I probably will not stay there once they fall asleep just so I can relax and unwind a bit before my bedtime.  But, I will be close by and continually checking on them in case they wake up so I can be there with them until they fall back asleep.

Implementing these 5 items continuously for 6 weeks will help to form a foundation for bonding with your adopted child.  Even beyond the 6 weeks, these items can be used if your child has a setback and you need to reconnect with him.  Or you may want to continue some or all of these items because you enjoy this time with your child.  However you decide to utilize this plan, you will be well on your way to establishing a bond with your child.