If your life is over-the-top crazy,
If your adopted or foster child is consistently sabotaging things,
If his or her hard behaviors and words are getting in the way of your whole family's happiness...
it's time to create your child a world that is the size he can really handle. A world in which he can be most SUCCESSFUL!
Most of the time creating a world in which your adopted or foster child can be most successful means making it SMALLER. It can include things like extra-curriculars, chores, camp, boundaries at home and beyond, the kinds of toys or other items they own and other big transitions they do away from you.
One example in our case was when we had given our daughters chores based on their chronological ages and the abilities we “knew” they had.
Our oldest rarely succeeded at accomplishing her chores. The problem was that those chores really caused a lot of issues. Big. Huge. Issues. It was "clear" to us that she "never listened", "didn't care", was "disrespectful on purpose", was "sneaky" and "just thought she could do what she wanted to when she wanted to do it." Remember, this is the way we interpreted everything.
Another example in our case was when we enrolled her in things at church and school that the other kids her age were doing.
She really had a hard time being able to run with other kids her age and not end up either getting hurt or breaking a rule or four!
Many times in situations where she was on her own with other children, she would either be a loner or be bossy and aggressive.
Important relationships were being negatively affected, we were confused and mad because it often felt purposeful, we were asked to pull her out of classes and sports, she was getting injured and putting herself in dangerous situations. It was a nightmare.
Worst of all, her self-esteem was suffering terribly. The more she failed the worse things got – a vicious circle of her old beliefs and deficits was set in motion!
It was time to do it differently!
I remember distinctly the day I really fully embraced this new more intentional way to parent my daughter. The day I really took the risk and met her where she was.
She had been invited to an overnight girl birthday party. She said she wanted to attend. However, behavior kicked in big time! She sabotaged going to the event in any way she could.
It finally hit me…this is too big for her.
I turned it over and over in my mind. It was an event that any Mom would want for her daughter to be a part of. It was an event that was appropriate for her chronological age. “All” of the girls in our group of friends were going. But I really needed to meet my daughter right where SHE was at.
With all of this going on in my mind, I decided to follow my gut.
I called her to our porch and as gently, but confidently, as I could I explained that she was not going to go to the party. I told her that it was my job to keep her safe and healthy and that this party would not be either of those things for her.
I braced myself for her reply.
She looked at me and asked me to repeat what I had said. I repeated it word for word. Her hands released their tight hold they had had on the rail. Then she breathed a huge sigh of relief! Her shoulders dropped inches in relaxation. Her face softened. Then she asked if she could go and play.
The behaviors that had kicked up before the party went back to a low rumble - which was our status quo. It was over. The spin really slowed! The party was too big for her.
I finally got it! I didn’t put her into a situation in which she couldn’t be successful. This was a HUGE shift for us.
It's so important to pull your adopted or foster child’s world into the size in which he can not only handle, but also be successful. Changing the size of your child's world is REALLY about meeting him where he's at. And it almost always means doing it differently than most other families.
But the benefits far outweigh the challenges of doing it differently...making this kind of intentional choice creates healing across the board!
I think there are a couple rules of thumb to follow when deciding how big is too big:
There's nothing easy about this concept; however, it makes all of the difference in creating the connection that ultimately is the foundation for all other relationships...the really important stuff usually takes work!
You can do this and I'm right here to cheer you on and show you that it works!
P.S. If you'd like specific strategies or to build your action plan I'd be honored to teach you how in my Coaching Group.
Just click this link to join me.