Could you guys explain to me how you can attachment parent an older child? I know how to do it with our baby, Jayden, but with Lillian (who is 7) I don't know what to do to facilitate attachment.
Any advice you have would be appreciated. Also, where can I find books and articles on this?
Thanks!
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[font=Verdana][font=Arial]My husband and I adopted five children out of foster care. Through talking with professionals, reading books and attending trainings, we learned innumerable ways to encourage the attachment of our children, whose ages now range from 8 to 16.[/font][/font]
[font=Verdana][font=Arial]Talking to a professional is always a good idea, especially if some of the childs behavior might be harmful to themselves or others, and books are a wonderful resource. But attachment work itself doesnҒt have to be complicated. It is simply about monitoring and enhancing the relationship with your child while working around limitations brought on by the circumstances they came from. It takes some creativity, but you can apply the same basic principles to your seven year old that you are using with your baby. Any activity you can come up with that helps you get and maintain eye contact, introduce safe physical touch without creating alarm, and provide consistent nurturance will naturally increase the attachment of an older child as well as a younger one. It even works on adults. :o)[/font][/font]
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[font=Verdana][font=Arial]Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities and get ready to use your imagination! Dont overlook the little things: You can provide consistent nurturance by eating meals together and at the same time every day, you can give safe physical touch by applying lotion to her hands and face or doing her hair, and you can inspire that treasured eye contact by making telescopes out of toilet paper tubes. (In fact, I have toilet paper tubes to thank for most of the attachment progress made with my youngest.)[/font][/font]
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[font=Verdana][font=Arial]DonҒt be afraid to try out some of your gut feelings allowing a six year old to drink from a baby bottle while rocking him to sleep might have appeared to be a practice in severe behavioral digression, but it was the inspiration my son needed to allow me to hold him. He began to look at me while he drank, then was able to be rocked without the bottle. Eventually, he was satisfied with watching me rock his younger brother. While I rocked, I explained what things would have been like if we had met earlier. This brought a deep satisfaction not just to my children, but to me as well. Another non-traditional thing I have done is allow my children to have food in their bedrooms; nothing else could convince them as effectively that they would not be allowed to go hungry. I just set limits - the food had to be kept in a sealed plastic container, and had to be somewhat nonperishable. As their trust grew, the need for the boxes disappeared.[/font][/font]
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[font=Verdana][font=Arial]My kids have come a long way and are as normal as any other child out there. But back to the œlimitations brought on by the circumstances they came fromŔ It is important to remember that attachment problems are not something that ever really goes away. Like other deep wounds, despite being closed and healed over, what these children have experienced leaves a mark though it is not always seen, it is always there. [/font][/font]
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[font=Verdana][font=Arial]Good luck and God bless you in the journey with the unique and precious person that has become your child.[/font][/font]
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[font=Verdana][font=Arial]PS: I recommend these two books by Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky. You can also search for more resources on Amazon.com by entering ֓attachment disorder. (Check your local library for the titles to save the expense and irritation of purchasing ones you donԒt find helpful.)[/font][/font]
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[font=Verdana][font=Arial]Adopting the Hurt Child: Hope for Families with Special-Needs Kids[/font][/font]
[font=Verdana][font=Arial]Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow[/font][/font]
I agree with Love them all I have done the same with my son - he was 6 1/2 when placed with me almost two years ago. I also have the books and find them helpful.
I haven't had any children with really severe problems, but I've had placements that were previously abused and distrustful of adults, defiant, and highly anxious and 'needy'.
A few books I have found helpful are:
'Attaching in Adoption' by Gray
'Theraplay : Helping Parents and Children Build Better Relationships Through Attachment-Based Play' by Ann M. Jernberg
'Healing Trust' by Thomas
'Building the Bonds of Attachment : Awakening Love in Deeply Troubled Children' by Hughes
The Theraplay book has appendices that list activities to build attachment, so if you can't bear to read it (it is a very dull book to read, even tho it is full of excellent information) it is worth checking out for that (it is very expensive, my local library managed to borrow it from a university).
I don't remember exactly how many activities are involved in building attachment, but I think they include Movement, Laughter, Eye contact, Touch, etc. So swinging a kid around in the air (if it doesn't scare them) is an attachment building activity. Bottle feeding (with eye contact) a child something sweet is a good attachment building activity (I thought it would seem weird with a 7 yr old, but it didn't seem weird because the children I've had were very happy to be babied). Face to face games that get giggly are good, I've found batting a balloon back and forth in the kitchen sufficient to get some major hilarity and pee-in-your-pants-laughter going. Wrestling is good (probably not for a seriously 'damaged' child, but for normal needy abused kids it seems good).
The most important detail that I learned, is to show love for the child with your eyes when you look at them.
Also, Love and Logic parenting makes it possible to stay calm enough to do the attachment parenting.
My daughter is 13 and has been with me for one year, and we have done lots of attachment-related activities. On the advice of therapists, we have done some of the things traditionally associated with younger kids, such as my holding her on my lap while I rock her and read to her and sing to her, and sometimes feed her "comfort foods" like applesauce with cinnamon. We also do a lot of things to increase her sense of belonging, being in a family, and being special. I kept a journal of all my early meetings with her, before she knew I'd be adopting her and later when we started our offical pre-placement visits, and then about the process of her coming home full time, and I read this journal to her regularly. She loves it, and asks me to read it over and over. We add to it every month now, summarizing special events and activities. I also take lots of family pictures and put them in a scrapbook album with captions and lots of writing about the events, and we look at this together often. I have special nicknames that are just mine for her, and I make up little songs and poems about her using these nicknames. All of these activities have done wonders in helping her attach. She has had the diagnoses of reactive attachment disorder, PTSD, OCD, ADHD, major depression, brain injury, development disability, impulse control disorder, etc., along with some medical issues, and has had failed placements in the past and a six year stay in a residence for kids with attachment impairments. Given all this, I think she is doing amazingly well, and the attachment work was crucial.