Working with Kids From Hard Places

Do you work with kids from hard places? 

Maybe you’re a teacher, a counselor, a CASA worker or a foster parent.

Maybe you work at a Day Care.

Maybe you adopted a group of kids who didn’t get the best start in life.

Maybe you have extended family members who have struggled with raising their own children and you have stepped in.

Or maybe you have had tragedy or divorce in your family and everyone is in survival mode. 

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If you can say yes, to one or all of the above, then this podcast is for you.

Amerey interviews her husband, Seth, about working with kids from hard places. They discuss unique educational experiences and Seth’s work at Chestnut Mountain Ranch, a Christian home and school for boys in need of hope and healing.

Your kids, family, classroom or _______ may not be exactly the same as Seth’s situation, but there are common denominators. Hopefully, this episode will be a starting point for some conversation about those issues. Instead of sweeping these things under the rug and just trying to survive, let’s talk. Let’s share our burdens and our struggles. I’m going to say those powerful words “me too”. I know the struggles of trying to bring hope and healing to kids from hard places. If there is a topic you would love to see on The Whole House Podcast pertaining to kids from hard places, comment here or email us -thewholehouseteam@gmail.com. We would love to hear from you! We’d love to come along side you and be a support. We love you guys!

iTunes link here.

Podomatic link here.

Time in Verses Time Out

Does Time Out Work?

A really popular parenting tool is time out. Here’s the problem, kids from hard places who have already been discarded, neglected or abused- time out just reinforces some beliefs:

  • you don’t matter
  • you’re not valuable
  • I’m going to separate myself from you

What they need instead is time in. What is time in? When a child is dysregulated, he needs to be beside you so you can co-regulate. Instead of sending him away, you keep him beside you. Keep them 2 or 3 feet away on a chair (or on the floor) until they calm down. When the child is calm, have a quick conversation and move on. This is a great chance for a redo (post on that here). You are looking for connection. Parents have an opportunity to connect after the child calms down. Our goal is build relationships. These kiddos were harmed through relationship and they will be healed through relationship.

Time out often breeds violent behaviors because the child needs someone to help them regulate.

Beside me jobs.

This simply means keeping the child beside you while you do chores. Let the child talk. She may put one dish in the dishwasher to your ten, it’s okay. This time of connection grows during this time. Beside me jobs, shoulder to shoulder allows the kiddo to spend time with you. During this time you are helping them regulate. The fruit of years of beside me jobs is a child is able to sort things through conversation. Not only that, but a child will mirror your behavior (see post on that here). If you are enjoying your chore and her company, she will eventually do the same.

 

Here’s a video from The Whole House Adoption/Foster Care Support Group on the subject. Comment if you would like to join or find us on Facebook!

Mirroring and Kids from Hard Places

What is mirroring?

Mirroring is getting cues from from another person, not your five senses. These mirror neurons fire up for things such as: when we watch someone else laugh, enjoy something or show visible signs of stress.

Why is important?

Kids get their cues from us parents. They get approval in a smile. Disappointment in a frown or angry glare. Kids learn about themselves by mirroring how we handle the world around us. They mirror our reactions.

What does it mean for kids from hard places?

Kids from hard places are mirroring what they have been taught before they came ‘home’ to stay with us (whether forever or temporarily). They have beliefs based on what they have observed. They may believe that they shouldn’t exist or they have no value. They may believe that lashing out or shutting down is how you handle life. We can help these kiddos find help and healing by projecting our acceptance. We can handle situations with love, grace and mercy. Eventually, they will learn to do the same. It’s tough, but we can:

Faith it ’til you make it.

(Thanks, Jessica for the saying!)

What is the science behind mirroring?

 This is a scientific principle discovered by Giacomo Rizzolatti  and his team in 1995. “Through these neurons we literally fire up activity in the brain without actually using our five senses through the normal sensory-cognitive cycle.” (Dr. Caroline Leaf)

Here’s a short video about the subject I filmed for The Whole House Adoption/Foster Support Group Page.

 

Peace in the Process

I was going to share a post about the Thanksgiving holiday today. I had it written up in my notebook, ready to type up and add a cute graphic. I changed my mind when I saw Kristin Hill Taylor’s book, Peace in the Process, kindle version is free today! I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to support another adoptive parent and author.

Kristin runs an online support group that I belong to. She is an encourager and an activist for adoptive parents. She rocks.

This is her story of the heartache of infertility followed by the blessing of adoption! She found peace in the process. ❤️ Also, weaved into her book are little writings of other adoptive Moms (including me).😍Get your copy today!

front cover only

(Click on image to go to Amazon and grab your free Kindle copy!)

Here’s my excerpt from her book: Make sure you get your copy to read Kristin’s story and hear from other Moms like me!

 

In Their Words :: Kathleen Guire

Adopting an older child is like reading a novel from the middle instead of the beginning. We parents enter in the middle of the story. The child, or children in my case, have a history. Their history usually has trauma. Child development expert Dr. Karyn Purvis calls referred to them, as “children from hard places.”

My children were just that; they didn’t have a picture-perfect beginning. They had two years of orphanage living under their belts to boot. When my four adopted children “came home” from Poland to the Guire household in West Virginia, they had nothing to their names, physically, but so much emotional baggage that it barely fit through the doorway. These beautiful, half-written stories entered our household with their survival mode in full swing.

My three biological children were learning the language of grace as my adopted children learned the language of family. It was an interesting dance. Some days it flowed like milk and honey in the Promised Land and other days we seemed to be lost in the wilderness. But we persevered. We laughed and cried together. We fought the demons of their pasts linked arm in arm and often fist to fist.

What does adoption look like later? With sixteen years of our forever family behind us and most of my children grown into adults, I’d say it looks good on the Guires.

My bios have come to me and thanked me for adopting. It has given them a sensitivity to pain in others they would not have had otherwise. When one son took a job in a homeless shelter, he had compassion built in from early life that poured out of him into relationships he formed there. The residents could tell he cared.

My adopted children have thanked me, all but the youngest (give him time). Truth be told, I didn’t adopt for a showering of thanksgiving. I did it to build a forever family. However, it is a true sign of maturity and healing my children – all of my children – recognize the gift of adoption. It is the gift of grace offered one day, healing another and daily dying to self. Isn’t that what family is?

Kathleen Guire is a mother of seven, writer, teacher, and encourager who blogs at thewholehouse.org.

Why should you sign up for ETC Parent Training?

Empowered to Connect, Dr. Karyn Purvis, Dr. David Cross, trust based parenting, these are not household terms in Wild Wonderful West Virginia. In fact, many adoptive/foster families have never heard of any of these terms, so it’s not surprising when I ask adoptive/foster families if they want to sign up for ETC Parent Training, they look at me as if I have three heads. I would too. Why should anyone sign up for parent training when they are already a parent and have been for quite awhile. Why plop down money for books and set aside time for homework in an already chocked full schedule?

When Mom came home and told us five kids we were moving to a farmhouse in the country, I constructed a mental picture in my head based on the Waltons. A large white farm house on the top a hill. When we pulled up to the tri colored, mustard, blue and red boxy, dilapidated structure with the overgrown yard, my illusions were shattered. the house boasted a Pepto- Bismol pink mantle and layers of faded wallpaper, not my ideal. My mother saw something we kids didn’t. Beauty. Value. Potential. she saw the eighty acres as a refuge. My mom believed in restoration. Now, I do too, and if you adopt/foster, you’re a family builder.

My parents knew the value of hardwood floors, the hundred year old construction and the fresh air for growing children and veggie gardens. Mom took our family habits and government and sifted through it. Some stuff got chucked, like the television, other things were added, family devotions around the oval oak table. It was a new way of living.

What’s the point of this wordy meandering? Adoption/fostering is like the farmhouse family journey. We believe it will be a certain way. We have expectations. We have as set of parenting beliefs that don’t work with children who have had trauma. They’re like those layers of wallpaper, we have to peel them back, examine them under the light of our current circumstances and determine what our goal is.

When my family moved to the farmhouse, Mom had a set of goals. In order to meet those goals, she had to make some changes. We adoptive/foster families need to do the same. Those layers of wallpaper may be our child’s past or our own. We need to peel them back and work on restructuring.

wallpaper

Traditional parenting doesn’t work with these kiddos. Just like the lifestyle Mom wanted to leave behind, we need to be willing to leave our suppositions behind. Punishment doesn’t work. Yelling just breeds anger. Time-out backfires. Logical consequences fall flat.

If you are reading this and you see yourself or your child you should consider ETC parent training. Maybe you’ve tried everything and your child’s behaviors are spiraling out of control. Or maybe he is well behaved, but distant, there is no connection, you feel as if you are just going through the motions. Your vision of that wonderful parent/child relationship has turned Pepto-Bismol pink. Do you feel as if you have lost the parenting gene? Probably not. What you may need is a reshuffling and restructuring of your parenting theory. I did.

2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. -Romans 12:2

We parents must renew our minds and our families will be transformed. We must have tools that work. If you don’t want to keep fighting the same battles and making no progress. I understand. Been there. Done that. Then I studied, learned and renewed my mind. ETC Parent training is taught by regular ole adoptive/foster parents like me who have lived it, tired it and found success, not perfection. We are in the trenches with you. You won’t just learn some theory from some lofty perch. ETC training gives you twenty-five tools to use help your child (and you) connect, grow and heal. It is an investment, not just another sharpie mark on the calendar.

If you are interested, contact Kathleen Guire by emailing PositiveAdoption@gmail.com.

Want to know more about the training? Click here.

 

Continuing Education and Fostering and Adopting

“How do you handle lying?”

“My son is stealing every day, what should I do?”

“My kid is so angry all the time, I can’t seem to get him on the right track!”

These are just some bits of conversations I have had with adoptive/foster parents. Kids getting kicked off the bus, suspended from school, kicked out of kid’s church. I could say, “Been there. Done that,” and sometimes I do, but that is not enough. Adoptive/Foster parents need real tried and true info to help them on their journey. We parents need to understand where the behavior is coming from, what’s going on inside the child’s brain, and what we can do to help foster attachment as well as moral and physical development.

What happened?

If you adopted a cute cuddly baby or toddler and he suddenly starts behaving in off the wall ways, you may be asking yourself, what have I gotten myself into and what happened? What did I do wrong? I used to ask myself this on a daily basis. When rotten behavior burgeoned its ugly head and morals seemed non existent, I cried, disciplined and when traditional parenting didn’t work, I delved into research. That doesn’t make me super woman. I am definitely not a super hero. What it did for me was bring me out of denial. I was denying that there was anything different between them and my bio kids because I felt like it meant I loved them less. It didn’t. That was a lie. The other lie that was difficult to battle was “you’re not being fair!” from the bio kids. I had to approach dealing with behaviors differently in my adopted children and it was evident that I was doing things differently. I wish there was a magic wand I could wave over my bio kid so they could understand I am parenting two different backgrounds, a set of kids from a secure foundation and another with no foundation of family. You can’t base fair on two different circumstances to begin with. It wasn’t fair that my adopted children had traumatic beginnings. Let me get back on track here, education is the key for parenting children from hard places.

A New Perspective.

Out with the old. In with the new. That is the perspective we must take in parenting children who have had trauma in their lives. Adopted/foster kids don’t come with a clean slate that we can write on. They come with a chalk board full of past. We must acknowledge that and focus on child rearing that meets them where they are, not where we expect them to be. For example, we expect an eight year old to act his age, yet if he has had a traumatic beginning, he may only have an emotional age of three or four. He may lie, because in his mind, he believes you will believe exactly what he tells you because his brain is only developed to the stage of a three year old. Four year olds think you only know what they tell you.

It’s a difficult thing, this re-shifting of parenting. It’s a bit easier if you think of your children as half their physical age and measure their brain development rather than their shoe size. If they have poor impulse control, they are using only the downstairs brain, it takes time and consistent parenting to help these kids move to the upstairs brain. Kids who have not had the opportunity to explore truth and fiction may struggle with the two, not matter their age.

Raising children from hard places helps me understand the portion of scripture referring to renewing my mind. When raising these children with cognitive dis-regulation due to early trauma, it takes a constant flow of education, a renewing of the mind in how to meet these kids where they are mentally, physically and spiritually.

. Check this video out for help in handling lying.

 

Gifting a set of tickets (non professional) for the Show Hope Empowered to Connect Simulcast today!  How do you enter? Share this post on Facebook and tag The Whole House (you must tag to be entered!) For more info on the simulcast including how to order tickets, find it here. Drawing at 9pm!

Linking up with these ladies:

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Happy New Year!

Happy new year! Thanks for joining me today for a short post!

I’m giving you a New Year’s gift, a  Kindle copy of Positive Adoption A Memoir (Click on the photo for more info on the book.)

book cover

And … inviting you to join me for an online book study of Positive Adoption A Memoir.  Join me for the seventeen week study  (one week per chapter) starting Monday, January 18 and ending Monday, May 9th. I will post the study questions on the group page Monday mornings. I will be available online to chat about them Monday evenings from 8:00-9:00, so don’t panic, it won’t take a big chunk of time. Just an hour a week or less if you choose. You are welcome to answer the questions at any time of the week or post on the page! So, pick up the gift today, the Kindle copy of Positive Adoption A Memoir !

How do you sign up? Just comment on the Positive Adoption Facebook Page and say “I would like to join the book study” I will invite you! Sign up today!  

Blessings,

Kathleen Guire

Three Practices that Help Promote Adoption

I love to promote adoption. I could stand on a soap box all day and talk about it. I want more children to be adopted! But, there is a catch.

Adoption isn’t as complicated as it sounds until you get immersed in the system of paper work, caseworkers, therapists, etc.. Talk of all that is enough to scare anyone off the adoption trail.

How do we promote adoption in a positive way?

  1. Don’t give too much info at once.

When Jerry and I began pursuing adoption, a wise friend and adoptive parent told me,

“I’m not going to explain everything. That’s too overwhelming. Let’s just focus on one step at a time.”

Trying to cover every inch of the adoption journey is like sitting a pregnant mama down and giving her all the info she needs until her child goes to college. Less info at the beginning is better. Each step has enough new information to digest.

pregnant mama

2. Don’t hyper- focus on the negative, but tell the truth.

When we began the homestudy process, we were given a stack of material to plough through. Eighty percent of it was negative. I pitched it.

It’s not that I was trying to be unrealistic. I knew what trauma was. I had lived through it. I was looking for material to equip, educate and encourage me. (That’s why I started Positive Adoption).

When the lens of adoption zooms in on the negative, no one is looking for the positive. It takes stepping back from the microscopic and looking at the whole picture.

If the negative is an eight year-old with self-regulation issues, stuck in angry, survivial mode, then the positive is, with some attachment, some regulation skills, leaning how to use the upstairs brain, this child can bond, regulate and smile. He learns how to recognize other emotions and allows himself to feel some. None of these wonderful steps would have occurred without adoption. He would be a name on a page in a file with a sad picture while he grew up in an orphanage.

3. Offer a support group.

When speaking with future foster/adoptive parents, point them to a support group online, in person, or both. Make sure the support group equips, educates and encourages.

No one likes a negative Nelly, but then again, Pollyanna can be a little much at times. We parents need a place to be honest, authentic and know we can leave our masks at home. We are among our own tribe in a support group.

It’s not all about the T-shirt (those are cool), advertising adoption without the provision of support is like inviting someone to join you in your canoe without providing them with a life jacket.

We adoptive parents can go overboard sometimes, trying to spread the good news of adoption. Adoption is positive. We want everyone to know about it. We want to shout it from the rooftops. We just need to practice promoting it in a concise, productive, encouraging and honest way!

*If you are interested in joining Positive Adoption, the live support group, contact me. If you are interested in Empowered to Connect Parent training, send me and email! Here’s an intro:

To contact Kathleen Guire, please email positiveadoption[at]gmail.com . Kathleen will do her best to reply promptly, but please keep in mind that her inbox and her day are both often full!