AdoptResources's Blog

blogging about adoption, attachment, parenting & family life

Posts Tagged ‘parenting

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?

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September 14, 2011 at 3:47 pm

What’s in your lunchbox?

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ham sandwichI listened to a feature on packed lunches vs school lunches on the radio this morning. I’ve started off this school year with packed lunches for everyone – in previous year’s my initial enthusiasm for packed lunches has been replaced with the convenience of what my kids like to call a ‘pay lunch’.

What’s your preference? I can see the benefits of both – the school lunches can offer a hot and healthy alternative, but they can also present children with choices they’re not ready to make. On the other hand, packed lunches can contain carefully selected healthy options, but if you’re anything like me, the repertoire of offerings can get a bit boring.

Nutrition is so important both in terms of long term health and wellbeing and also on a day to day basis to keep energy levels matched with the physical and mental requirements of the school day. Trying to get the right balance can be a struggle some days, especially if there are any food fads on the go!

I’m going to stick with the packed lunches for now and throw in the odd ‘pay lunch’ for a bit of variety. What do you like about packed lunches or school lunches? Do you have any tips on keeping lunch boxes healthy and interesting?

Related posts
If you’re looking for ideas, Netmums have a good feature on lunchbox ideas.

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September 1, 2011 at 1:31 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

Support over the summer…

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summer written in the sandSummertime is associated with relaxing, taking time off, having fun and recharging batteries. But it often doesn’t live up to the expectations, especially for those of us who are parents to children who’ve experienced early neglect or trauma. The thought of all that free time can seem like a dream come true for some kids but ironically, the lack of familiar routine can lead to more confusion and the occasional meltdowns.

I’ve written about some tips and strategies that can help over the holiday season: Surviving the summer holidaysChecking inA weekend away

For a bit of extra support, this summer I’m running an online ‘Adoption summercamp’. It’s a 6 week programme that can work around your schedule and includes:

  • weekly video blogs and teleseminars to introduce the topic for each week and cover some key points on attachment and parenting and look at tips and strategies for dealing with issues that are important for you.
  • a weekly group Q&A call for you to discuss any issues with me
  • downloads of supporting materials
  • access to all the recordings to listen to/watch when it suits you best.

rabbit figures in classroom settingOver the 6 weeks we’ll cover:

  • finding your holiday friendly routine
  • troubleshooting – what are your challenges
  • working on what’s behind the behaviour
  • tools and strategies
  • the ‘back to school’ transition
  • looking after yourself

There are some bonuses for early birds who register before 9am on 18th July, including your first week for free, a copy of the Boosting Self Esteem in Adoption ebook and, for the first 5 who register, a one-to-one call for more individual attention.

I’m really looking forward to running the course and hope that you’ll join me for a bit of extra support over the holidays… I’m sending out more info later today, in the meantime, email or comment below if you’ve any queries.

Written by adoptresources

July 15, 2011 at 3:52 pm

Checking in…

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One of our boys pushes against routines and longs for free time with no structure. So the summer holidays are his idea of heaven, or so he thinks. In reality though, he’s not sure how to handle the lack of structure and we’ve learned over the years that putting in a bit of a framework, chunking up the day into blocks of time and giving him options for what to do when, gives us all an easier time.

As he gets older and more independent, playing out with friends has become a big part of the holidays. He’d happily disappear for the whole day but too much time away can see him disconnecting from us. You can almost see him putting a bit of distance between us… a bit of bravado, bad language and attitude all helps keep everyone at arms length.

stop clockSo we’ve built in an invisible checking in system – giving him a 2hr check in time – either in person or by phone. So he can still play with friends and feel like he has the freedom that the rest of his peers have. The end result is that things don’t unravel so quickly and we keep a better connection even with more freedom.

What strategies help you keep the balance over the holidays?

Related posts:
surviving the summer holidays
a weekend away

Coming soon… Adoption summercamp – a weekly programme to help you keep your sanity over the holiday season… email fiona@adoptresources.co.uk for more details

Written by adoptresources

July 11, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Family history

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girl and stethoscopeAt a doctor’s appointment with our youngest recently, I was asked whether there was any family history of a relatively minor ailment.  It’s a fairly standard question in a lot of doctor-patient conversations.  I know what’s lurking in my family’s medical history but I’m less familiar with our children’s. This is not because information was withheld or because I wasn’t paying attention ; ) but because the medical information that is shared at the time of placement tends to focus on things that would have a more immediate impact on your child’s health with less focus on more general health information.

There are a few ways I could respond – make something up, or be a bit vague, or explain why I don’t know the answer – I usually opt for a brief explanation…”‘I’m not sure, x is adopted”. But it all depends on who is asking and the context. We’ve always been open in how we talk about adoption with our children and this definitely helps in situations like this.

My youngest’s response to this exchange? She took great delight in correcting me… “Mum, we are ALL adopted…” making a point of including her brothers.

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May 30, 2011 at 5:10 pm

Holiday time, again!

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It’s school holiday time again, and most children in the UK are only at school for about 6 days this month, and not even that for some!

I’ve blogged about holiday times before and no matter the holiday season – summer, festive season, even unplanned breaks due to the weather – the main message is to build a bit of routine and predictability into your holiday time.

You don’t have to be too rigid but lots of the stress and anxiety for children (and so lots of the difficult behaviour) can be reduced by taking away the stress of not knowing what’s happening next. Involve the kids in planning what’s happening, schedule in some free time (with suggestions for what can be put in the free time) and if family visits are part of your holiday think ahead and build in some coping strategies for any of the challenges that might crop up!

My favourite top tip for holiday (and not holiday) time is to use visual planners to make it easier if your child finds it hard to process information…

…and my other one is don’t worry if it doesn’t go to plan!

What are your coping strategies for school holidays? Hope you have a fab time…

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April 13, 2011 at 12:06 pm