How To Comfort A Child Who Doesn’t Want Connection

Our parenting instinct is to comfort, console, and care for our children when they are hurt, or feeling sad. But what do you do when your child pushes you away instead of letting you connect? It’s tricky, but here’s our advice…

I had just finished a stack of paperwork for my sons’ new school. Feeling relieved and a little bit cramped from signing my name a thousand times, I walked the envelopes to the end of our long driveway. (Yes, my kids’ school still uses paper and snail mail…rural living.) My son was pushing himself in the wagon toward the street. I turned just in time to see him veer toward the ledge separating the driveway from the grass. He swerved to the right, tipping himself out of the wagon and onto the hot asphalt. My instinct was to run to him. I spotted my husband at the back porch and could see him jump as fast as I did. We met our son just as he crawled out of the grass. Both of us walked toward him with arms outstretched. His dad said, “Oh no, let me see your arm.” I exclaimed, “You’re bleeding, is anything else hurt?” Our son turned away from us in anger, pushing us aside with his good arm and stomped toward the house. Still worried, we followed trying to offer the help of bandaids and ice packs. That’s when we realized, we were offering a consolation that he was not able to receive. 

Can You Ever Really Bond With An Older Child?

When it comes to adopting older children there’s often a belief that, because they’ve been through so much, it’s impossible to form a healthy bond with them. We’ve discovered something different.

Mom and daughter embracing
In our 15 years of parenting we have had the honor of participating in the lives of 23 children. Most of them returned home or went on to be adopted by their forever families, eight of them have stayed forever. Before I became a parent of an older child, I didn’t think much about bonding and attachment. I am attached to my own parents, brothers and sisters. I have not personally had reason to question my place or belonging in the world. When we adopted our first daughter at birth, we bonded quite naturally.