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Helping Your Child Self-Regulate Their Emotions

Self-regulation, or the ability to ensure that you’re in a healthy emotional and mental state, is a skill we all deserve to have. Emotional regulation is not something we are born with. This tool is built from structure, balance, and consistency at a young age. However, children who grow up in unpredictable environments or lack a stable caregiver may struggle to self-regulate. If this is the case for your child, what can you do to help your child healthily manage their emotions? 

When a caregiver or parent actively and quickly tends to a child’s needs or soothes them when they are upset, that helps your child realize and internalize that their needs will be met. Adopted children can come from unstable environments where they have developed an unrealistic expectation of how quickly a caregiver needs to respond. If you find that your child is having difficulty self-regulating, it’s crucial to seek therapeutic support. Their inability to control their emotions could affect more than just their relationship with you—it can manifest in a lack of stable friendships, falling behind in education, and lead to anxiety, depression, and withdrawal. 

The capacity to self-regulate is not set in stone. All children and young adults can develop this essential skill if given the right environment and support. Parenting for Brain likens a newborn child to a car without brakes. The “brake” has to develop, so when a child is upset, they don’t always press the “gas” pedal straight into an emotional meltdown. That’s our job, as parents and caregivers: to help press the brake, calm them down, and teach them to do the same. 

Our children will go to school, engage in sports or extracurricular activities, get a job, and become their own person, but the foundation of their emotional development begins at home. Next time your child is struggling to regulate their emotions—step in and apply the brakes. And then teach them how. 

To learn more about the science behind child development, explore this presentation from the Harvard School of Education.

Have A Kind Weekend

Dear friends, another weekend, and officially in fall! It can feel strange, moving into a new season during such an unmoored year. But we hope you’re able to find ease in the transition and respite in the cooler temperatures.

We could all use a little kindness in our lives. Find a way to brighten someone’s day, and let the effects reverberate through your weekend.

See you next week. <3

This week on the blog: we talk about exploring gender with your child

“Adopted children are blessings and, as a writer, I feel my son is my inspiration for carrying on and for using the written word to try to interpret our existence.” 

16 parents share their most surprising parenting tips. 

What are the reasons people choose to adopt a child? American Adoptions shows you some of the most compelling motivations

One in five teens struggles to afford or goes without proper menstrual products. Slowly, but surely—states are taking action. 

Paternity leave has long-lasting benefits—from healthier marriages to more engaged relationships with their children. Why don’t more men take it? 

The Wright family found that adopting their teen son was costly, challenging, and joyous

Monkeys taught this mother how to embrace teenage sleepovers

PBS states that books are the best way to teach children about important issues. They gave us their top 13 reads on diversity, gender equality, and even hair love. 

Are Donald Trump’s words affecting the way our children behave in the classroom

 

A Pandemic Adoption

For those adopting from birth, the resulting hospital stay is a culmination of the challenges and hurdles you overcame during your adoption journey. It’s an incredibly powerful, often long-awaited moment. 

If you’re currently in the midst of that process, your adoption plan is likely disrupted by COVID-19. It’s a reality no one could have anticipated or expected, but it has affected all aspects of life—including the adoption process. What will your hospital stay look like during a pandemic? 

The pandemic will likely impact whether or not everyone will be able to gather at the hospital, but this will look different for everyone. While many hospitals have implemented similar policies, it’s imperative that you research your hospital’s COVID plan. The Center for Disease Control released a “Hospital Preparedness” list to guide healthcare providers through this process. Collaborate with your child’s birth family, and any adoption mentor, specialist, or social worker to redesign your birth plan in a way that protects the health, safety, and comfort level of your child’s birth mother first and foremost. 

If you’re unable to watch your child be born, and that was part of your original birth plan, there are options! Focus on what you can do and how you can make this experience as memorable as possible. 

  • Set up regular video or phone calls. This virtual “face to face” option provides you the opportunity to interact in the safest way possible. While this type of communication can be frustrating (staring at a screen or technical issues), it enables a more open line of communication. Plan one or two calls a month and take notes to help you remember questions or topics you want to address. 
  • Meet beforehand. This option should be used only if you and the birth family feel comfortable, safe, and healthy. While most hospitals are not allowing visitors, you could find a way to socially distance in an outdoor space to have that face to face time. 
  • Be clear about your feelings and hopes. This is not an easy situation for anyone, and most of it is beyond our control, but it is still important to verbalize your needs and expectations from this process even if it does look a little different. 

It’s hard not to feel stress when expecting a child during these uncertain times. We love this piece from Oprah Magazine, which features stories from multiple families going through their adoption during the pandemic. They offer a fresh perspective on everything from the court delays to changes in the birth plan. It’s tough to shift expectations, but there is still beauty and joy to be had in this process, and there is something life-changing on the other side. 

Exploring Gender With Your Child

Language around gender has shifted in recent years. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association removed the diagnosis of “Gender Identity Disorder” and replaced it with “Gender Dysphoria.” The APA defines this as: “People with gender dysphoria may be very uncomfortable with the gender they were assigned, sometimes described as being uncomfortable with their body (particularly developments during puberty) or being uncomfortable with the expected roles of their assigned gender.”

While more and more people are opening up about their journey with gender, there is still strong resistance to this conversation—especially when it involves a child. 

Sexuality and identity are two different things. Gender identity—whether an individual identifies as male, female, or nonbinary—is not directly related to sexual orientation—the gender to which someone is attracted. The idea of a child making realizations about gender can be uncomfortable or difficult for some people to understand. If your child starts to express feelings about not feeling right in their body or identifying as a gender different from the one assigned at birth, it’s a powerful opportunity to lead with love, support, and openness. 

If your child starts making comments about their identity, it’s best to begin conversations immediately and collaborate with professionals who can help your child articulate their thoughts and feelings and safely process their experience. This experience can be incredibly traumatizing for those without a safe support network.  According to the most recent National Transgender Discrimination Survey, nearly 45% of transgender people ages 18-24 have attempted suicide. Early intervention saves lives. It will also help you better understand your child and learn how to have a responsible dialogue with them. 

This journey is lifelong and encompasses more than just physical transformation. It involves tough conversations with family members, public disapproval and discrimination, and a total re-shaping of identity. Any loved ones in your life enduring your experience will be transformed by your love, kindness, and support. 

To learn more about what it means to be transgender, or to explore resources for supporting your child, visit these excellent and honest communities:

Be kind to one another. 

Have A Restful Weekend

Hello!

How has your weekend been? Relaxing? Stressful? Filled with sleep? Underslept? We know weekends, as glamorized as they can be, often have other plans in mind, so here’s hoping yours went as smoothly as possible. And that those of you living in—or with families in—Oregon, Washington, Colorado, and California, are safe.

Today we’re sharing some of the pieces that grabbed our eyes this week and stuck with us after reading. Stories about adoption, parenting, and the resiliency of life, we hope you enjoy them too.

On the blog this week: are we paying enough attention to our children’s developmental milestones

Apparently, “mom shaming” is running rampant during the pandemic.

This parenting podcast is all about adjusting a little one to virtual kindergarten.

The Young family had just finalized their adoption of four siblings when they learned they were pregnant. With quadruplets. 

A mother reflects on privilege, adoption, and parenting.

Finding the missing piece: when adoptees become parents.

Parenting in the age of screens.

Bentley was born with a cleft lip and often found it hard to find others like him—then he met Lacey. 

How is COVID changing the adoption process?

Co-parenting…as friends!

 

Assessing Your Child’s Development

As a parent, you know your child best. You can tell when they are not feeling well or are struggling with something. That includes development delays. What are developmental delays? They could be a lack of verbal and non-verbal communication skills, poor emotional regulation, poor articulation and understanding of words and conversations, and much more. If you notice your child is delayed in something their sensory or communication milestones, what’s the next course of action? 

First, visit your pediatrician. Often, adoptive parents don’t have access to their child’s medical history. If that’s the case with your family, noting this early on and making sure you know what to look out for will be incredibly helpful. Have an open and honest conversation regarding your concerns about your child’s development, sharing what you’ve noticed and documented. Your child’s primary care doctor can then make appropriate referrals—whether to a speech therapist, behavioral coach, or another specialist.

The early years of parenting are a time to be present and engaged in your child’s development and wellbeing. There are many ways to turn your daily interactions into developmental exploration: immerse yourself in their favorite playtime activities, observe them with other children, or imitate their movements and play to get a better grasp on how they’re functioning. Treatment for developmental delays is often one of experimentation: finding the comfort zone of you and your child, and then pushing yourself outside of it. Therapies for delays in speech and cognition can be more than talk therapy—there are multiple activities you and your child can do to advance or “restart” a stunted learning system. Consider music classes, creative activities, or sensory engagement that challenges them to use and evolve their motor skills. 

If you think your child may be experiencing delays in development, contact your primary care physician to get an evaluation. Regardless of what happens, the timeline that is best for you and your child is the best timeline. Like all good things—change doesn’t happen overnight. We love this list from Autism Speaks, which offers a list of all the early intervention offices in the country. If you’re noticing that your child may be experiencing some delays, contact yours and get some support. 

 

Have A Gorgeous (Long) Weekend

Dear ones—Labor Day doesn’t mean a long weekend for everyone, but if it does for you, we hope you’re savoring it. For those working this weekend, thank you for your essential service. We’re so grateful to you.

Here we are again with our favorite reads of the week, the ones that stuck in our minds and made us think. We hope they do the same for you.

Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and we’ll see you around here next week.

<3

This week on the blog, we discussed advocating for racial equality in adoption.

Children’s of Alabama is Birmingham’s best-kept secret. 

Do you feel like you’re the only parent struggling through this pandemic? You’re not alone. This list of podcasts is filled with commiserating voices.

Residents of Florida are rising up against an “inconsistent” adoption system. 

Here is how to be an anti-racist adoptive parent. 

The Texas Adoption Resource Exchange (TARE)  is expanding online services to aid children in the foster system. 

Hats off to these kids and their heroically productive COVID summers! 

Thousands of inquiries continue to roll in regarding Jordan from Oklahoma

Do you love children and want to find a way to work with them? 

The ACCT Council of Social Service (ACTCOSS) has introduced the Adoption Amendment Act of 2020

Advocating for Racial Equality in Adoption

Over the last few years, the adoption world has been focusing more and more on the stark racial disparities within its community. Systems are attempting to change process while implementing new solutions focused on leveling the playing field in regards to race representation throughout the adoption process. Jurisdictions, community agencies, and action committees are seeking to identify disproportionate realities and implement change on a macro level. 

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 33% of children in the foster and adoption system are Black. That statistic is especially staggering, considering that Black children only make up 15% of the general population. Does the system undermine families of color? Why are Black families so heavily underrepresented in the adoption process? 

Race correlates to child services more than we might know—primarily due to societal restraints put especially on Black families, like lower-income housing, less attractive job opportunities, and overall minimal access to community services. In Wisconsin, a child living in a household with an income of less than $15,000 a year was six times more likely to become involved in the criminal justice or child services system. 

How do we bring balance to such an uneven system? What can we, as a community, do to ensure that Black families and parents are accurately represented in this system? You can start with your legislature and advocate for laws and policies that make the adoption process smoother and more equitable for all. The United States Congress has a list of legislative contacts by state. Black parents need our support—sometimes something as simple as sitting down and having a conversation about their feelings and struggles through the process. You can provide an open ear and heart. 

While there are significant strides to go—it’s essential to see the community and government leaders come together for the greater good. You can’t change the world—but you can change someone’s world. Be there for your friends of color as they navigate the journey. You may find that your journeys look very different. 

Have A Relaxing Weekend

Hello! Popping by on Sunday and hoping you’ve had a wonderful weekend so far. We’ve been gathering our favorite reads of the week to share with you all (one of our favorite rituals). There’s a lot going on in the world right now. May your hearts be light, your minds unencumbered, your relationships joyful, and your homes at peace.

We’ll see you next week. <3

On the blog this week: what is Indiscriminate Affection, and is it unsafe behavior? 

Abby Johnson’s description of why police should profile her biracial son has understandably upset many. 

New Mexico is accepting support to overhaul its outdated adoption database. 

Is telehealth helping children respond better? Studies say yes. 

Do adoptions in Texas really cost $300-400? 

The YWCA hosted a panel that focused on disciplinary action against students of color in the public school system. 

West Virginia continues to making strides to ensure foster care and adoption are more accessible to everyone. 

The adoption and foster care system will emerge stronger following the COVID pandemic. 

What is a “risk mindset,” and how do we control it? 

A small ask from adoptive parents revealed a deep flaw in Nevada’s system. 

 

Creating Safe Boundaries for Your Children

We have all witnessed it—the not so shy child in the grocery line talking your ear off, or the fearless toddler making friends with anyone they see. While this kind of behavior is typically harmless and will sometimes result in an upset child looking for their parents—is it safe to let our children approach anyone they want to? Is this type of behavior harmless, or does it point to signs of attachment issues? 

Indiscriminate touching, or attachment, is a behavior typically seen in children under the age of five. It can be described as the inability to or inconsistency in identifying and creating healthy forms of attachment. Indiscriminate touching is something that is often seen in children with trauma in their background. Sometimes, children adopted from foster care or a neglectful situation have a skewed view of what a nurturing adult should look like. They view all adults with equal opportunity—meaning some children may attempt to garner the same affection from a stranger that they do from their parents. The commonality between children who engage in this kind of attachment behavior is the lack of consistent care. 

So, what do you do if you see this behavior in your child? First of all, this type of action does not always reflect a negative background, and your child may be a social butterfly, so it’s important to distinguish between the two. A therapist can help you and your family build strategies that allow your child to explore and make friends but in a safe way. This may mean reapproaching your relationship with your child, readdressing boundary and safety issues, and laying down general safety guidelines. 

Start the conversation of personal space and safety within your own home. Lifeline Child suggests placing a hula hoop on the floor to demonstrate personal space. You can explain to your child that every person has this “hula hoop” around them, and we need to respect that. Not only will your child begin to understand when they are too close to someone, but also when someone is too close to them. 

Remember: children are not born with all the knowledge. It’s the parents’s responsibility to teach and guide them. When you start to see harmful or unsafe behavior—don’t sit on it. Find creative and calm ways to address them and then incorporate that into your daily routine.