Monday, October 4, 2010

The Connected Child--a book response

Well, I have been reading more blogs than books lately, but I do still need to finish my last hour of Hague training with a book response so I thought I would write it out now.  If we lived in fantasy land we could get a referral in as little as 4 months, and why not?  Anything is possible with God.  So, we really had better finish updating all our paperwork including the Hague training.

The last book I finished Adoption related is called "The Connected Child," by Karyn Purvis, David Cross, and Wendy Sunshine.  I enjoyed the book a great deal, though the first part was quite difficult to read.  It was painful to read (what appeared to be, but was actually only a few) story after story about children who were hurt by those who should protect them and what the results in the child's sense of well-being and behavior are.  Plus, even though I don't believe my children have been deeply traumatized, after a few chapters I was convinced my oldest son was having seizures, my youngest daughter had indiscriminate affection, and my middle child exhibited every other symptom the book describes.  I started thinking I should finish this book later when I had an adopted daughter to attach to because I wouldn't be able to remember it all.  Certainly I will need a refresher when we return home, but as I got further into the book, I realized it was basically saying the same thing over and over.

Children who have been hurt and have had periods of time when their needs were not met in appropriate manners will need some extra care and nurturing.  However, while some of it is slightly different than some forms of parenting, really I think main points I took away could apply for any child.

1.  Get to the heart of the matter.  Why is the child behaving in a specific manner?  Usually a child coming from a difficult background (and International Adoption qualifies as a difficult background) has a reason beyond the simple childhood defiance created sinful reason.  I know when I yell at my children (and I really try not to yell) it is almost always triggered by hunger, fear, or some outside situation that I cannot control like a rude customer service representative.  Umm, this ties in with the TRUTH model I learned in Biblical counseling last week--Trigger event,  wRong thinking, Unhealthy reaction, Tell the truth, Healthy response.  If we can start to identify the trigger events and wrong (inaccurate) thinking in our children, then we will be able to train and teach proper responses.  There is a whole section of the book on "Disarming the Fear Response with Felt Safety" so I'm thinking that is considered one of the big underlying causes of acting out.

2.  Get down on the child's level.  This was said throughout the book; with almost every response they suggest a parent make they included get down on the child's eye level.  The book gives point by point instructions on how to approach a child physically and to require connections with the eyes that include being down on the floor, next to them, etc. so you are their height.  Mostly I think this was because it shows the child respect and lends towards another goal--nurture, nurture, nurture.

3.  The child must treat the parent with respect.  Understanding the cause of certain behaviors and getting down on eye level, does not mean the child should be allowed to get away with anything they want.  By understanding the child's fear of going hungry, you can give them a granola bar to hold with the freedom to eat it after dinner without breaking the house rules that you cannot have a snack before dinner.  There are many such creative options offered in the book depending on the behavior and what is triggering it.  There is also a whole, huge section entitled "You are the Boss" that goes into greater details on how to make sure to require respect in the home while being properly nurturing and sensitive to the child.  One of my favorite ideas, partly because I already use it all the time especially with my middle child, is a "Do Over."  If the child asks or demands or says something rudely, instead of an instant punishment (which according to this book should be a Time-In) they get a chance to do it over, to ask again with the right words.  A child new to the home will take time to learn what those right words and tones are, but my 6 year old knows them.  I've always felt a little wrong letting him "do it over" because I felt if I was a proper parent and punished him enough he wouldn't keep forgetting and try to demand food with "I am hungry, where is my snack?!"  He may not be a traumatized child according to this book, but somehow I felt affirmed being told this is an okay, possibly even a great, way to train children.

Overall I felt this was a terrific book with lots of concrete, practical advice that will aid me in being a better parent.

This book and others are listed here on We Are Grafted In with a link to purchase them from Amazon.  The forum, We Are Grafted In, will receive a small percentage to defray costs of running the forum.  


Nancy said...

Just a little note-In the midst of the "snot storm" I've been carrying around this book, highlighting, writing in the margins, trying to glean some info on how to appropriately parent. Not a perfect answer, but it has help lead me to some methods to try. I read it a long while ago. And it was good to be reminded of it. Thank you for that, Cedar!

Anonymous said...

Hi again, I can't resist commenting on this book. My best friend just came back from a week long conference with Karyn Purvis...and she said the DVD's are incredible. Even better than the book. (I know what you mean about the beginning of the book being so sad...I checked it out at the library, and thought some of it was so hard to read.) :( Also...she has a free study guide called "Created to Connect" that you can print off the computer. Here's the link I haven't read it, but I have heard GREAT things about it...and it is on my nightstand...waiting for me. :) Are you adopting a toddler? I have mostly looked at your I haven't read your adoption story yet.

Okay...better stop writing now. :) Except to did you learn to take such great pictures???? Do you have any book recommendations for that?? :)