How do we help our children regulate when they are melting down, out-of-sorts, or feeling anxious? It’s a question we receive often from readers. Here are some practical tips…
To “regulate” means “to keep under control.” To regulate our emotions means that we keep our emotions in control. Everyone experiences a dis-regulated state of emotions at one time or another. Being in a state of dis-regulation feels like a simmering pot that starts to boil over. We all have to learn how to re-regulate once our emotions are out of sorts. Most of us learn to do this naturally over time but some children may need extra help, especially children who have experienced trauma. After years of learning from therapists, fellow foster parents and teachers, we have compiled an extensive list of coping skills. Today we are sharing five of the ways we cope with dis-regulation at our home. We use these in the car, at school, while shopping and even at the dinner table.
Have you ever wished you had a children’s book series that reflects your unique family? Wish no more! The “Who Loves” Series children’s books by Jami Kaeb from The Forgotten Initiative are just what every foster and adoptive family needs to have in their personal library.
The “Who Loves Series” tells the first person story of a child in foster care. All children will relate to these books as they tell a positive story of a child who is loved by many people. The “Who Loves Series” consists of three books. Who Loves Baby? is written for children ages 0-3. Who Loves Me? is for children ages 3-7 and I am Loved is perfect for children age 7-10.
We are all on a journey to understanding. Rarely does a person step into this journey fully equipped with the knowledge they need to help their kiddos the most. That’s why we grow and learn. But there is one element of understanding that opens up a whole new world when you finally see the full picture.
I will never forget the moment my mind was fully opened to the reality of what our kiddos have gone through and why they do and say the things they do at times.
It was Christmastime, fours years ago. On a cold December night my oldest son, who is diagnosed with Alcohol-Related-Neuro-developmental-Disorder (commonly called ARND, a diagnosis of FASD), was triggered by something. We were popping popcorn, pulling out blankets, and settling down in our family room for a family movie night. For reasons that still remain a mystery, he wasn’t having it. Any of it!
Sometimes you encounter odd situations on the foster (or adoptive) parenting journey. They can take your breath away, deeply wound you, or leave you dumbfounded. We encountered a situation like this recently.
Last night Mike and I met friends for dinner. We share the common bond of parenthood, marriage, church, hometown community and foster parenting. During the first course, we talked about the stupid thing we did as young adults. By the main course, we lamented the ever growing need to monitor our students’ technology and the ins and outs of teen dating. By dessert, our conversation turned to foster care. We shared stories about little ones who haven’t slept in months as well as enthusiastically long prayers given by pre-schoolers at dinner time. We shook our heads at the hard parts and belly laughed at the funny bits.
Is it possible to find people who get it? How do I go about connecting with people who won’t judge or criticize me if I’m brutally honest? What about people who will love me and my children even when things get really bad? Where do I find people like that? We’ve had these questions, and more, over the years. Here’s where we’ve found answers…
I heard the bus pull up at the end of our driveway and glanced at the wall clock. My kids were home from school and I had completely lost track of time. I jumped up to unlock the door and smiled widely at my three youngest sons. My 8 year old hugged my waist, my 9 year old threw his backpack across the family room, brushed off my hug and stomped to his room, slamming the door behind him. My 10 year old rolled his eyes and I put my hand on his shoulder to stop him, “Ok, spill it.” He sighed, “Noah wouldn’t leave him alone on the bus. He kept asking about his ‘real’ brothers and sisters. We asked him to stop but he wouldn’t. Noah asked why his ‘real’ mom didn’t want him and then it was time to get off the bus so we all just left.” “Thanks for telling me, I’m sorry that happened to you guys,” I squeezed his shoulder. He smiled a half smile as he looked up at me, “It’s ok, mom, some people just don’t get it.” In our family, we have 8 children all of whom were adopted. We don’t look alike. That fact is usually lost on us until someone else points it out.
Our society prides itself on titles, positions, rankings, and statistics. It’s how we identify pro-atheletes, leaders of major corporations, and our favorite sports teams. Often, it’s how we identify ourselves. But we have learned that, in our family, we are much more than a title.
Ok, Ok I understand our blog is called Confessions of an Adoptive Parent. It’s easy to think that we eat sleep and breathe adoption. Our title is a brand but it isn’t all that we are. Adoption, to us, is more like a surname. A last name is an identifier but it isn’t a person’s sole identity.
Traditions are a part of what solidifies the culture of each unique family. As foster and adoptive families, we have the important challenge of blending many different customs in to one new family unit. This holiday season, we’ve been asking ourselves and our children how we can honor our individuality while celebrating together.
When I was growing up, Holidays were full of family traditions. On Thanksgiving Day we traveled to my grandma’s house for dinner. We cleaned up together and then went for a walk around our little town. Even if it was freezing, you could count on a gaggle of Schultzes quite loudly making our way through the neighborhood. That evening my family would buckle into the Caprice Classic and only then, begin the non-stop Christmas music that would fill my ears until New Year’s Day. The next day, we would venture out to cut down the perfect Christmas tree. We didn’t start decorating until all family members were present and accounted for, Nat King Cole Christmas was on the record player and egg nog was properly chilled and poured into 6 decorative mugs.
“I have both adopted and biological kids and I find my bio kids often get lost in the shuffle of everything we deal with as an adoptive family. How do we support them and stay connected to them?”
We get this question ALL the time. Usually I’m thinking, “Hmmm good question, I don’t have any bio kids so I don’t know how to answer that.” Next, I’ll think, “I should really meet someone who has bio kids and ask them this question.” Then I say to myself, “Better yet, I should find a bio kid who was raised in an adoptive family and then I’ll ask the question.” This weekend my mom and I went to an adoption conference together and I kept introducing her and by saying, “This is my mom, she’s an adoptive mom too!”