The Three R’s

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You may see your youth go from 0 to 100 in what seems like a second flat, with really no indication to why you see an exculpated behavior.  You may be asking yourself and your child, ‘what is going on?!’ as you’re trying to make sense of behavior(s) in front of you!  How many times do you hear your youth respond with, ‘I don’t know?’  The truth is, youth most likely don’t know what is going on.  And they might not be able to express the why behind their behavior for awhile!  Using Dr. Perry’s Three R’s may help you and your family bring down the escalated moment a bit quicker.

The first step in the Three R’s is to Regulate.  When youth are in their behavior, they’re utilizing their basement brain, known as the brainstem.  The brainstem is where primitive actions occur, and youth need their basic need of safety met.  The goal is to help youth come back down to their baseline.  Starting off, youth might not know how to regulate themselves, so a parent must walk beside the youth in order to help them regulate.  Helpful tools to use include: providing a quiet area, sensory items, music, or breathing in/out techniques (breathe in to smell the cocoa and breathe out to cool the cocoa off).  Just as it is important to allow the youth to regulate, it is important for the parent to regulate, as dysregulated parents can trigger youth.  So, as a parent, take a few moments and cool off!

When the youth is regulated, they’re able to move from functioning from their brainstem to utilizing the limbic part of their brain.  This is when the second R, Relating, can be worked through.  When working within the realm of relating, parents are to have a sensitive conversation with their youth.  During this time, parents need to be attuned with their youth and connect with them to validate their youth’s emotion.  An example parents may use includes, ‘I can see how that situation was very frustrating.  Remember parents, you don’t have to agree with the youth, but it’s more important to validate the youth’s feelings than to tell the youth their wrong in how they’re feeling!

The final step is to Reason.  This step is final because youth are now out of their primal minds, away from using their basic level of thinking.  This is where youth can think from the higher level of their brain, known as their cortex, where logical thought occurs.  Parents and youth can now talk about the behavior that happened and better ways to handle future situations.

It may take time for you to become comfortable in putting each piece of this into play.  It may take time for your child to respond to each part, and that’s okay!  Give yourself and your child some grace.  It may be a new technique for both of you to learn and implement.

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

Holiday Traditions

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The holidays are the perfect time to express our love for our family. This year, how about starting to incorporate adoption into your annual holiday traditions with these simple practices:

Light a candle

Say a prayer, express your gratitude, or reflect on the reasons why you love the people in your life who are there because of adoption. Create a quiet tradition that allows you to gather with your loved ones and reflect on birth family, adoptive family and adopted children.

Send something in the mail

Gifts don’t have to cost much! Sometimes the best way to let someone in your adoption triad know that you’re thinking of them is to collect photos, write a letter, have the kids draw a picture, and send it out in the mail. Talk about the year, update them on your life, or tell them that you love them and are thinking of them.

Make space for sad feelings

The holidays can bring a mix of emotions. Remember that it’s okay if not all of those feelings are happy ones. Adoptees may feel sad around this time of year when thinking about their birth family. Birth parents may feel the loss of their birth child more deeply. As well as the adoptive parents may grieve the losses the birth parents and their child have felt. The best way to honor these feelings is to talk about them together and acknowledge that it’s okay to feel both happy and sad about adoption.

Pick up the phone

A phone call on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day can mean the world to the members of your adoption triad. Even sending a text with a photo is an easy way to let someone know you’re thinking of them.

Schedule a visit

If your adoption includes visits, the holidays are the perfect time of year to get together. Try to book your visit in advance. Everyone gets busy during this season! Grabbing lunch, seeing Santa together, or taking a walk to see the lights are all simple ways to catch up in person.

Make an ornament

Every year, you could get crafty and make an ornament. It can be painted, feature a photo of your child from that year, or even a theme! Send it to the members in your adoption triad, or hang it on your own “memory tree,” then watch them add up throughout the years. I think this one is my favorite!

 Re-tell your adoption story

Adoption isn’t a one-time conversation. It should be a common theme and celebrated topic in your home. This season is often a time to reflect on the past, and look toward the future. So, this is the perfect time to re-tell your child’s adoption story. If possible, birth and adoptive parents can join together (even if it’s just virtually) to tell the story and express the love they continue to feel. The holiday season is all about expressing love and gratitude for families of all kinds!

*What are your family’s favorite holiday traditions? How do you find ways to honor adoption during the holiday season? Let us know in the comments

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, NaTasha Sawicki, LBSW

Tips to Connect with Your Child

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We may find ourselves amidst days filled with busyness – getting kids off to school, work, appointments, extracurricular activities, dinner, homework, and bedtime routines.  Before we know it, we realize we didn’t have an opportunity to spend time with our youth.  While the intentions are there to have this great quality time, we may not know even where to start with building it into the already busy schedule.  This may lead to feelings of guilt, frustration, inadequacy.  Name the feeling, and I guarantee almost every parent has felt that way at some point along their parenting journey.  The important key to remember, though, is that parents can be successful in connecting with their youth – it just has to be prioritized!  Below are some tips that may help:

  • Make this time to connect with your child a priority
    • Put it in your calendar to ensure that it will be done!
  • Be creative in planning time with each child
    • Plan something on the weekend to spend time with each child
    • Have some alone time right before bed, or even right away in the morning
  • Have a trusted babysitter, or even tag team with spouse, to ensure this connected time will happen
    • Ask them to watch other kiddos to ensure time spent with a child
    • Maybe have this person connect with your youth, too, especially if you’re tag teaming with your spouse!
  • Find ways to send special messages
    • Embrace social media and have fun messaging!
      • Perhaps have a family group text message or social media message!
      • Send messages directly to your child with words of encouragement!
    • Write a note and put it in their lunch bag, backpack, or on their bathroom mirror!

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

Trauma and Eating Disorders

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While researching eating disorders, I came across an article and website that discussed different eating disorders, and I didn’t realize how many different types there are! Aside from some of the more common and well-known eating disorders, such as anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating, some are less common and unheard of. Eating disorders can affect both men and women, and develop in early childhood through midlife, but most are reported in the teen and young adulthood years. Throughout this blog post, we will discuss how trauma can and may impact the development of eating disorders. While genetics and family history can play a role in developing eating disorders, it is also reported that trauma can contribute to the onset of an eating disorder. Those who have experienced emotional, physical, or sexual abuse are more likely to develop psychological issues. Eating disorders can create various health issues affecting the cardiovascular system, gastrointestinal system, neurological system, and endocrine system.

There are many different types of traumas that can play a role in developing an eating disorder. Those traumas can include neglect, physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and bullying. When an individual experiences trauma, they may manage their emotions through controlling their eating or engaging in addiction type behaviors. While many people who have an eating disorder have suffered some form of trauma, it does not mean that all people who have an eating disorder have suffered trauma. You can also develop an eating disorder if you have not suffered any trauma. According to (Ross, 2018), eating disorders are rarely about food. Eating disorders are more centered on control.

If trauma has been experienced and an individual develops an eating disorder, it is essential to seek treatment and professional help for both the trauma and the eating disorder. Treatment for just the eating disorder or treatment for just the trauma will not aid in the treatment process as a whole. Different forms of therapy can be help in treatment. Therapies such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing) can be beneficial in the treatment of an eating disorder, as well as the trauma that may have affected the development of the eating disorder.

Throughout the next few blog posts we will be discussing different types of eating disorders. The eating disorders that will be discussed will include Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, Binge Eating Disorder, Orthorexia, Other Specified Feeding or Eating Disorder (OSFED), Avoidant Restrictive Food Intake Disorder (AFRID), Pica, Rumination Disorder, Unspecified Feed or Eating Disorder, Laxative Abuse, and Compulsive Exercise.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Jaclyn Stroehl, LBSW

References/Resources:

Ross, C. C., MD. (2018b, February 21). Eating Disorders, Trauma, and PTSD. National Eating Disorders    Association. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/blog/eating-disorders-trauma-ptsd-recovery

National Eating Disorders Association. (2018, February 21). Information by Eating Disorder. https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/information-eating-disorder

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