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Why Won’t My Child Act His Age?

In response to meltdowns, emotional outbursts, extreme neediness, and many other behavioral challenges, adoptive and foster parents are often left asking: "why won't my child act his or her age?" Watch as Dr. Karyn Purvis and Michael Monroe address this important question, offering insight about the needs of adoptive and foster children and how parents can effectively meet those needs to build trust and develop a stronger connection.

Fostering Healthy Independence

Parents often encourage or even push their child to be independent. However, for children from hard places becoming independent can be a real challenge, primarily because these children have not developed trust and may not have had their dependency needs met consistently by an insightful, attuned and available caregiver. Watch as Dr. Karyn Purvis talks about authentic and healthy independence and how parents can best foster this with their child.

Starting at the Beginning for Your Child

Researchers have documented the profound and lasting effects that early care or the lack thereof have on the development of trust (“I am safe”), self-worth (“I am precious”) and self-efficacy (“I am heard”). In addition, developmental researchers widely acknowledge that the formative early days dramatically influence attachment relationships and also have dramatic and lasting effects on brain development and brain chemistry. Tragically, many of the children that we love and serve came into an unwelcoming world and started life amidst very difficult circumstances. These heartbreaking early harms and losses often hold our children back from developing in healthy or optimal ways and too often prevent them from developing trust and understanding just how precious they truly are.

How Do I Find the Right Professional To Help Us?

Adoptive and foster parents often need to look to professionals to help them and their child. But how do parents know which professionals to turn to? Watch as Dr. Karyn Purvis and Michael Monroe offer practical insight about how parents should view the role of professionals and which criterion they should use in selecting the right professional to come alongside them in order to help bring about healing for their child.

Total Voice Control: Focusing on How You Say What You Say

Possibly one of the most practical and useful tools Dr. Karyn Purvis teaches parents is what she calls "Total Voice Control." This tool equips parents to focus on how they use their own voice when interacting with their child. Watch as Michael Monroe talks about how parents can use this tool to focus on how they say what they say, and as a result more effectively promote connection and understanding between themselves and their child.

Real Hope in the Balance

The challenges, problems and pain that our children face are real, and as a result, they affect us as parents as well. These challenges impact the whole child; and therefore, we must be willing to engage and embrace our children (and ourselves!) holistically. At the same time, we must always remember there are no quick fixes—merely changing behaviors will not accomplish what is needed. Our goal must be nothing less than healing for the whole child. Much like our own journey of spiritual healing and maturity, the healing we desire for our children will be a process, and it must be anchored by hope—real hope.

Keys to an Effective Time-In With Your Child

Time-in (as opposed to time-out) is an important strategy to help parents learn to “connect while correcting” with their children. When using the time-in strategy it’s critical to remember that time-in is not intended to punish your child. Instead, time-in is designed to help your child calm and regulate so that he can express his needs (or wants) appropriately. Also, be sure not to jump the gun and resort to time-in when another, lower level strategy (such as playful engagement or choices) might address the behavior more effectively. But there are times when a time-in is precisely the strategy that is called for. So here are eight keys to help you implement an effective time-in with your child.

Learning & Un-Learning to Parent Your Child

Children from hard places have unique histories and needs. As a result, parents of these children need to learn how to love and parent them well. This requires that parents not only learn strategies that will be effective in helping them heal, but they will also need to 'un-learn' previous ways of parenting -- whether those be parenting strategies that were successful with their biological children, ways that they themselves were parented or parenting approaches that others in their church or circle of friends are using. In this brief video, Dr. Purvis explains the need for parents to focus specifically on the child that God has called them to love and care for, and to parent that child in a way that can bring hope, healing and joy.

Understanding Sensory Processing

Sensory processing is an important topic for anyone who loves and cares for a child from a hard place. Beacuse of their histories, children from hard places often experience altered brain development which impacts the way in which they process sensory data. In this brief video, Dr. Karyn Purvis explains what sensory processing is and why an understanding of it is vital for adoptive and foster parents.

Easier Said Than Done

People who make things look easy really get on my nerves. You know who I’m talking about. Ever watched one of those cooking shows on TV? You see them making some recipe in 10 easy steps and it always comes out looking hot, beautiful, and delicious. So you try it at home and all you end up with is a giant mess of something ugly and inedible. Or maybe you’ve watched one of those home improvement shows where the host can build, repair, or decorate just about anything and it turns out great, all on a shoestring budget. So in a fit of inspiration you make a trip to Home Depot, spend twice as much as you wanted to, come home and four hours later all your spouse can say is “maybe we can call someone to come fix it tomorrow.” Why does it seem to be so easy for some people? Why are so many things in life easier said than done?

When Your Child Pushes You Away

When most children get hurt or become afraid, they go to a parent. After all, parents are the ones who protect children and keep them safe from danger. They are the ones who comfort children when they are afraid. For these children it's a simple equation: mom and dad are safe and I can trust them to help me so I will go to them. But things aren't always that simple for children with histories of early harm such as trauma, abuse, neglect, or relinquishment. Their life experiences impact them in any number of important ways, often making them prone to prolonged states of fear and a limited ability to trust. Instead of going to their parents for help or comfort, these children often run from them, push them away, or shut them out.

The Impact of Fear

Fear is very real in the lives of children from hard places. In fact, fear often 'bullies' our children into much of their misbehavior. As a result, it is critical that parents of children from hard places approach fear and fear-driven behaviors with compassion, insight and wisdom. Watch as Dr. Purvis explains the impact of fear and how parents can begin to help their children learn to trust and let go of fear.

The Importance of Neuro – transmitters

Neurotransmitters are the chemical messengers that help our bodies think, feel and move. However, the levels of key neurotransitters in many children from hard places are often too high, too low and/or out of balance. In this brief video, Dr. Karyn Purvis explains the importance of neurotransmitters, both in terms of helping parents gain new insight and compassion for their children and also for understanding how they might begin to address this important issue.

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Practice is an essential part of life -- that is, if improving competence and confidence is our goal. This is no less true for adoptive and foster parents as they begin (and continue) down the path of parenting in a manner consistent with the principles and strategies of The Connected Child. Watch as Amy Monroe explains the importance of practice for both parents and children.

How Long Do I Have to Parent This Way?

As a result of their early life experiences, children from hard places often miss out on some of the key development that is essential in helping them learn to trust and grow relationally. As a result of their unique histories and needs, these children need parents that are willing to utilize the unique approach of trust-based parenting to help them heal and grow. Watch as Dr. Karyn Purvis encourages adoptive and foster parents to embrace trust-based parenting as the "new normal" that God has called them to as an essential part of the journey.

Becoming a Band-Aid Dad

Recently I came across an Adoptive Families Magazine article entitled Band-Aid Mom. In the article, Wendy Flemons, an adoptive mom, asks this important question – “Can a Band-Aid do more than heal a physical wound?” As simple as it may seem, this is a profoundly important question and one that adoptive dads should be equally interested in answering. Flemons explains in the article her initial aversion to Band-Aids given the tendency of many kids to over-rely on the simple first aid supply that lacks any real inherent healing characteristics. I can relate. However, as I continue to learn more about the important and complex subject of attachment, I have discovered that Band-Aids are actually a highly relevant tool – literally and metaphorically – for adoptive and foster parents as they seek to help their children heal from the effects of their past. Writing about the experience with her 10 year old daughter who they adopted less than a year ago from Ethiopia, Flemons noted that she had learned two important things: “Children have pain beyond what we can see, and Band-Aids are not just physical objects.”

Compassion is the Answer. What’s the Question?

I've been talking with a lot of moms lately and many of them are struggling with their kids. I get it. There are days I struggle too. The issues we face vary from the small, frustrating and everyday, to the big, infuriating and out-of-control. But no matter what the issue or challenge, the one thing I constantly remind them of, and the one thing I have to constantly remind myself of, is the need to see my kids with eyes of compassion...and to approach each and every interaction with them compassionately.

Counting the Cost of the Journey

The adoption and foster care journey is filled with joy, blessings and beauty. But it is a journey also marked by loss, pain and challenges of various kinds. As a result, parents must be mindful to 'count the cost' of traveling this journey. Watch as Dr. Karyn Purvis encourages parents to 'count the cost' as they engage the adoption and foster care journey in a way that leads to true hope and healing.

What’s Your Play Personality?

I have a confession to make. I don’t like parents who are good at playing with their kids. I could have stated my feelings about these ‘playful parents’ in stronger terms, but I don’t want you to think I’ve gone mad. When I see fun-loving moms and dads who are seemingly naturally gifted at playing with their kids, it gets under my skin a bit. I see them and their kids both having tons of fun, and I get a little green with envy. They are good at play and being playful with their kids, and I am not. Play and fun seems easy for them, and for me it is anything but. And I am not the only one. Turns out there are many parents like me. But there is good news for all of us.

Expecting So Much More

“Who are you?” I remember thinking this unthinkable thought as I looked into the face of my young son only a few years into our life together as an adoptive family. He did not share my DNA but he was every bit ‘mine.’ Yet while we were both made in the image of the same God, I was becoming aware that we were two very different reflections. In that moment I began to be confronted by much of what I had brought into the journey of adoptive parenting – most significantly my expectations about my child and how this journey would unfold. In reality I hardly knew my son, still that did not stop me from creating expectations about the things he would like and how he would act and think. On top of that, I expected that the adoption path God had led us down would be relatively easy and straightforward once we were home. I convinced myself that adoption was little more than a historical fact of how we came to be, rather than an ongoing reality of the journey that lay ahead.

The Importance of Repairing Your Mistakes

There is no such thing as a perfect parent -- and that is actually good news, so long as parents are willing to focus on repair when they fail and make mistakes. Watch as Dr. Karyn Purvis explains why it is important for parents to repair their mistakes, and how repair can actually encourage growth and strengthen the relationship between parent and child.

When Good Things Aren’t Good

This summer we made a difficult parenting decision. It was the decision (made together with one of our sons) that he would not play competitive summer baseball. Now before you roll your eyes and conclude that we must not have many "real" challenges, let me explain. You can’t be around our family long before quickly concluding that we have our hands full. We are a “real” family with “real” issues, just like many others. And a few months ago baseball had begun to create its own challenges for our son and our family – challenges that we could no longer ignore. What made our decision so very difficult was that it involved something entirely “good” – baseball.