AdoptResources's Blog

blogging about adoption, attachment, parenting & family life

Posts Tagged ‘neglect

Containment

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holding handsThe title of this post didn’t mean much to me until last week when I listened to a presentation from Laura Steckley at a Scottish Attachment in Action conference. Laura talked about the concept of containment and how it relates to the regulation of emotions from early infancy and beyond…

Containment in this context describes the process where an infant seeks out emotional regulation from their carer by projecting their unmanageable feelings to their carer to manage. The carer absorbs the feelings and reflects them back in a more manageable form. It is an important part of the infant, caregiver relationship and links closely with the attachment process.

I really liked this way of thinking about emotional regulation, especially in adoption and fostering where children might not have had much emotional containtment in their early years and could still be projecting what’s unmanageable for them and chucking it your way to process. It helps make sense of those situations where ’emotions run high’...

Another important point that was made is that carers can become ‘uncontained’ in trying to contain the emotions  of children in their care…

All of this got me thinking about ‘containment for containers’. For practitioners that can be in the form of professional supervision, for parents and carers it might be one-to-one support, a chat with a social worker, support groups, online forums, friends and family, or a book and a cup of tea. Whatever works for you, it’s important to recognise that you’ll need to find ways to help you feel supported and ready to deal with whatever emotions might be thrown at you.

On a professional level, I have regular supervision, and on a personal level I rely on my network of friends and family, and lots and lots of tea… What works for you?

Written by adoptresources

September 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm

Making faces

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We learn about emotions from our earliest interactions as babies with our parents and carers. For lots of children who have experienced early trauma or neglect, understanding and expressing their own emotions and reading others’ facial expressions can be difficult.

Not knowing how you feel, how to say how you feel or how to work out how others feel leads to misunderstandings in lots of areas including at home, with friends and at school.

cartoon emotions We used to play a game when the kids were younger to help with naming and understanding emotions and facial expressions. It’s really easy – you just need a mirror, you and your child…
Step 1 name an emotion – happy/excited/sad/angry etc
Step 2 both look into the mirror and make the face!
Step 3 back to step 1, taking it in turns to name the emotion…

Dead easy and lots of fun. I still do it with the kids now that they are older – we don’t need the mirror, we just make faces at each other!

Other things that can help are naming emotions for your child… ‘it seems to me like you’re angry about that…’, it helps them name what they are feeling and build their vocabulary of emotions.

What things have you found help make sense of emotions?

This post was inspired by Misreading Facial Expressions written by my friend, Naomi Richards aka The Kids’ Coach

Related posts:
Noticing

Written by adoptresources

July 22, 2011 at 8:43 am

She’s not my real mum…

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That’s a phrase a lot of us who have adopted children will have heard or might be expecting to in the future… It’s the title of a brilliant blog post from Nikki Pilkington about her stepmum and I have to confess to a few tears while reading it.

For me, there are a lot of similarites to the ‘mumflict’ in adoption. That longing for the biological mum – who is bound to be better than the not-so-real mum, with the rules and routines – alongside the developing trust and relationship with the not-so-real mum. Sometimes it can be hard not to get caught up in the rejection and easy to miss the positive shoots of your growing relationship.

child not speaking
The impact of early neglect and trauma on building trust and attachment for some adopted children adds to the complexity and can mean that the closer you get, the more you’re pushed away. It can be hard to keep up sometimes and easy to lose sight of how far you’ve come since starting out as parent and child.

Taking some time out to reflect on things that have changed for the positive, small steps, little things can help give you a boost if there’s not a lot of positive stuff going on. And remembering that often the rejection is a sign of things edging closer behind the scenes…

Related posts

Being a mum

Written by adoptresources

March 14, 2011 at 10:31 am

Bruised before birth

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The Adolescent and Children’s Trust (TACT) are running a series of conferences in the UK for professionals, parents and carers about the complexities faced by a child with Foetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) or Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD) and strategies and supports that can help.

FASD affects a number of children who are fostered or adopted and it can affect things like speech and language processing, cause and effect thinking and ability to concentrate. Awareness of different strategies and supports will help both children and families to deal with the impact of FASD.

There are still places left for the conference in Edinburgh this week (Thursday 10th March) and there’s another conference in London on 30th March if that’s closer for you.

I’m going to the Edinburgh conference – let me know if you’re going too…

Written by adoptresources

March 7, 2011 at 7:33 am

It’s not about the numbers

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calculator and graphMartin Narey, the outgoing CEO of Barnardos and Tim Loughton, Children’s Minister have called for a reconsideration of current practice in relation to matching ethnicity in adoption to increase the number of adoptions. This is definitely an area that needs to be addressed but the whole matching and approval process would benefit from a bit of TLC. Media attention has focussed on the ‘increasing numbers of adoptions’ message but the real aim should be  better processes for everyone involved, not just trying to increase numbers on any side of the equation.

In an ideal world, there’d be fewer adoptions because children would be cared for in their own family. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. So, in the event that a child is not able to be cared for in their own family, the next aim should be to make their journey to a permanent home as short and untraumatic as possible. It’s not about aiming solely to change the figures and stats around adoption but to:

  • improve the processes for approval of prospective adopters – with less variation in criteria between agencies
  • provide more resources for effective planning and decision making for children taken into care
  • improve the matching process and cut down delays in moving children to permanent placements
  • improve post-placement support through:
  1. better assessment of childrens needs at the time of placement in foster care or with their adoptive family
  2. improved access to support for foster carers and adoptive families
  3. matching support and resources to the child’s needs and not to their legal status (fostered or adopted)

By focussing on the processes and not just numbers you can improve the outcomes for children and families and surely that should be the aim.

Written by adoptresources

January 23, 2011 at 9:59 am

Support for learning

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LearningThe summary of a recent  report  concluded that children were being “wrongly labelled as having special educational needs”. This sparked a debate about the pros and cons of diagnoses and labels of special educational needs. Some parents felt that the right diagnosis meant that children received additional support, others that it limited expectations of children or that additional support was not always provided.

My own experience is that some children would do better with additional support in school but, without a formal recognition of need, the provision of additional support is dependent on individual teachers and resources.

In adoption, early trauma and neglect impact on a child’s development and can lead to the need for additional support with learning. Areas like language processing affect how well children understand instruction and can cause problems in all subject areas, even in games and P.E. Poor concentration, low self esteem and problems with social relationships all have a knock on effect on learning

What are your views… has your child had support for learning, has it helped? Do you think labels are helpful?

Written by adoptresources

September 28, 2010 at 6:57 pm