Mother’s Day

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Mother’s Day is a celebration to honor the mother of the family, motherhood, and maternal bonds. It doesn’t matter the adjective in front of the word “mother.” Whether you’re a birth mother, adoptive mother, foster mother, guardian mother, stepmother, godmother, kinship mother, you deserve to be celebrated on this day. Being a mother does not stop with DNA. A mother encompasses that and so much more.

Mother’s Day was held on May 9th, 2021 of this year, but any day is a great day to appreciate mothers and everything they have done for us.  It is celebrated on various days in many parts of the world, most commonly in March or May. The American incarnation of Mother’s Day was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908. Jarvis campaigned to have Mother’s Day recognized by the federal government, and in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a bill that designated the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day. Jarvis would later denounce the holiday’s commercialization and spent the latter part of her life trying to remove it from the calendar. While dates and celebrations vary, Mother’s Day traditionally involves presenting moms with flowers, cards, and tokens of appreciation. Mothers deserve to be thanked, spoiled, and loved on in their own special way; however that looks to them and their family.

 “When you are a mother, you are never really alone in your thoughts. A mother always has to think twice, once for herself and once for her child.” – Sophia Loren

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Kim Waswick, LBSW

Why Use Scripts?

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Sometimes it is hard to find the right words; everything takes time and practice. Speaking from personal experience, finding the right words to write in a blog or the right words to say during a webinar can be difficult. Using key phrases, terms, and scripts with your adoptive and guardianship children will build trust and familiarity.  Scripts are short, verbal cues that parents use to remind a child of the desired behavior. Scripts help to communicate a sense of safety and connectedness in moments of distress or dysregulation.

Why use scripts?

When our kids are upset, it is hard to talk with them. If our child’s brain is overloaded with a perceived threat or big feelings during a meltdown, they cannot process much of anything. Even our attempts to help them calm down go unnoticed. Those big feelings are scary for our kids. Therefore, our task in their moment of dysregulation is to help them re-regulate. They need to trust us to help them adjust their behavior and emotions to a more appropriate state.

Using scripts acts as mental muscle memory to help get our kids back on track without requiring a lot of mental processing power. Suppose you’ve ever witnessed a teacher quiet an entire class with a simple call-and-response. In that case, you are already familiar with the idea. A short, frequently-used phrase like “Use your words” or “Ask, don’t tell” reminds your kids of how they’re supposed to behave without being disciplinary. People continually follow scripts that are acquired through habit, practice, and simple routine.

Dr. Karen Purvis’ book with Lisa Qualls and Emmelie Pickett – offered a few practical examples of scripts.

5 Tips for Creating Scripts

  1. Keep it simple.

Use as few words as possible, no more than five or six. Only address one behavior per script. Make sure you offer a specific and direct behavioral response to challenging behavior. Telling a child in the middle of a tantrum to “Behave!” is useless but telling her, “Use your words” is concrete action. Or you can say, “We need to use our inside voice.”

  1. Practice scripts when everyone is calm.

Remember, when your child is dysregulated, it is not time to start using a new script they’ve not heard before. Identify problem behaviors you want to target, develop your scripts, and introduce them when everyone is calm.

You could try role-playing to practice the scripts, especially if you have a younger kid who likes to engage in imaginary play. Building familiarity with the scripts and the desired behavior can increase everyone’s ease of using the scripts together. If he has heard the script before, he will be better able to remember and process what it means when dysregulated.

  1. Praise good behavior.

When your child behaves correctly, use those positive “cheerleader” type-scripts to acknowledge their good behavior and praise them for it. “Great listening!” or “Thank you for the kind words” are examples of positive reinforcement that helps your child associate the script with the desired behavior. It also builds your child’s confidence that she can act in praise-worthy ways. Dr. Purvis called this “marking the task.”

  1. Watch your tone.

Scripts are designed to remind your child of desired behavior without fussing or nagging. They will be ineffective if you say them through clenched teeth. Make sure you deliver the script in a gentle, non-threatening tone of voice. Remember, use the script as a reminder of positive behavior, not a punishment for negative behavior.

Children read our nonverbal communication, so we need to pay attention to our facial expressions and posture, and our tone of voice is critical when teaching the behaviors we want to see.

  1. Make your scripts age-appropriate.

A script that works great for your five-year-old might feel condescending when said to your tween or teen. You can still expect the same behavior. But as They get older, you should modify the language you use.

Your tone in age-appropriate ways is key with tweens and teens. It would be best to strive for light-hearted reminders early in the interactions that don’t feel like commands. His natural need for independence might feel triggered if he feels that you are talking to him like he is a child.  When you are talking about using a tone, you can use the example, “Do you want to try that again with respect.” which initiates a redo.

Set your child up for success.

The repetition of scripts will create comfort for both the child and those around them. Scripts allow us to predict how others will behave and fulfill our need for a sense of control. When things would get chaotic in our house, my mom would make a “T” with her arms, and we all knew it was time to calm down. My son will use the phrase, “Real talk,” when he needs the conversation to be serious and not goofy. The starting points for script points will take time and practice to develop.  However, to be truly useful, you need to develop your unique scripts for your family.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Kim Waswick, LBSW

Lisa Qualls | One Thankful Mom

Setting Teens Up for Success

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Children who experience trauma can learn at different rates than children who haven’t experienced trauma.  It may be beneficial to start teaching adult skills early to teens to set them up for success in their adult years.  Parenting your Adopted Teenager, from the Child Welfare Information Gateway, gives practical ideas on preparing youth with the future in mind.

Teaching successful skills to teens can be a vital part of transitioning into adulthood.  These skills may include laundry, money management, making appointments, filling prescriptions, and meal prepping/cooking.  The skill can be part of the youth’s weekly routine, so it may easily be carried over as your teen transitions to live independently.  If deemed that there are some tasks your child may not be able to do, look into assistance available in your community.  Your child may be eligible to receive services that include having someone help with independent living skills.  If you don’t know of an agency in your area that provides this type of service, contact your Post Adopt Coordinator near you to help locate this service.

Parents can also promote healthy relationships and activities.  Conversing about who good role models in the community are can make a difference as well.  While in high school, these folks may include a youth’s drama club leader, basketball coach, or youth leader.  Some of these important people may remain mentors, playing a different role in your growing teen’s life.  In contrast, teens may need encouragement for other healthy relationships.  Parents may notice that as their child ages, the relationship between parent and youth changes.  Parents may fill the role of a friend, mentor, or advocate as their child enters adulthood.  Mentors can be a supportive as your child continues to gain more independence, whether it be with moving and setting up a new apartment, dropping by to say hello, or simply being an encouragement to your kiddo.   Promoting healthy activities can be beneficial for teens.  Activities might include football Sundays, baking, physical exercise, or finding a play to attend.

Like mentioned earlier, look into available services.  Suppose your child does receive special education services when they’re 16.  In this case, the school provides a plan for the teen’s future, whether with furthering their education, obtaining employment, or living independently.  Also, look into community resources that may support your teen’s needs, whether it be with helping meet educational, employment, or extracurricular needs.  Vocational Rehab and Freedom Resource Center maybe resources to look into to assist your teen transitioning towards independence.

 

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW

Creating Healthy Interactions with Your Children

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Let’s face it, sometimes life gets busy, and we can forget to slow down and be in the moment.  Being present with your children and set aside quality time as a family is essential for healthy growth and development.  Children learn and thrive when they have strong, loving, positive relationships with their parents. Have a fun family activity planned; spending quality time together can create lasting memories while building your relationship.

There are many activities you can do with your children to promote healthy interactions.  Cooking a meal together, reading a book, doing a craft, playing board games, or outdoor activities are great ways to implement quality time, while also having fun.  Growing up, I always cherished time in the kitchen helping out with dinner or baking a delicious treat with my parents.  It was a time to talk about our day, what’s going on in life, and have a good laugh or two.

Since the pandemic hit a little over a year ago, it may be challenging to find new and fun ways to include family time while being at home.  Being stuck at home may have brought more screen time for your children, such as watching TV, being on the computer, or playing on IPad’s with friends.  You may be feeling it’s challenging to interact and engage with your child.  Try Theraplay!  Theraplay is structured play therapy for children that involves parents.  The main goal is to boost attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and provide positive enjoyment.  Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge.  Theraplay can help children who have experienced trauma begin to heal.  Theraplay can also help children with developmental disorders feel more comfortable with social interaction and help families experience happiness and connection. The activities are designed to be simple, fun and interactive, and better yet, can be done at home!

Here are a few activities you can do with your children at home that meet the essential qualities of Theraplay, which fun and relatively easy:

  • Balloon Balance:  Blow up a balloon.  Spread out in an open space and see who can keep their balloon in the air the longest.  Make it more challenging by just using one hand or no hands at all!  This activity can help children focus and work on patience.
  • Hand Stack: Take a seat on the ground or in a chair facing each other.  One partner starts by placing their hand palm side down.  The other partner places one of their hands on top and continues doing this repeatedly, essentially creating a tower.  Go until you cannot reach anymore.  This activity helps children learn to take turns and wait.
  • Up We Go: Partners sit back to back, with their elbows linked, and try to stand up.  Once standing, try to sit back down while elbows are still linked.  This activity helps children practice teamwork as well as communication skills.
  • Balloon Tennis:   Blow up a balloon and use ping pong paddles or racquets made out of paint stir sticks and paper plates. Volley back and forth as long as you can without the balloon touching the ground. This activity enhances the development of motor skills.

During your next family night, try out one of the activities and pay attention to how your children react and how you interact as a whole.  Supporting your children and having healthy interactions through quality time creates healthy relationships.  As they say, children grow up in the blink of an eye, make the time you have a memorable one.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Intern, Greta Stanton

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