What I'm interested in is how to handle the girls' interaction with friendly strangers in our big city.
Example: We are riding on a crowded train. A friendly mom type happens to be standing in front of us. She smiles at the girls. They smile back. She compliments them on something. They say thanks. I chat with her a bit about kids. The girls stay involved in the conversation
In situations like that, the girls get very interested in the friendly stranger. Miss Serious will immediately want to give gifts (like drawings or food) to these friendly strangers, and if she does meet a friendly stranger in a situation and then goes back to the same place and doesn't have the same experience, she is crushed that she didn't meet a friend. At the playground, for example, Miss Sassy will call other children's parents Mommy, and want them to take her off and on play equipment (not me). I don't usually let her do that, but I don't always catch it. And it's also not unusual for a kid to do it, if a friendly parent is around. But I know it's different for these girls.
We have talked about strangers. But I don't want to terrify these children, they are literally around 100s of strangers every day when we commute. And their experience in care has been that every person they have met in care - their other foster mom, their CW, us, their doctors, has been nothing but friendly, appropriate and very loving. Their view that everyone is kind and appropriate is based on their experience. How do I keep them safe from strangers and encourage healthy boundaries while balancing all of this?
They are very attached to us. They sometimes call us Mama or Mommy, they want to be picked up all the time, they come to us for comfort, etc. But they seem to be...I guess I'd put it this way....always on the look out for other possible moms. They'd be happy to have us as moms, but they are wary that it might not work out that way. And that is the truth. So do I push the idea that we are the mommies on them when it might not end up to be true? And how do I make them less excited about strangers when we see many friendly and interesting strangers all the time? And they are going to go on being city kids with lots of stranger interaction, no matter what.
Sorry, this is a lot. But any comments on attachment in this whole situation - big city, friendly strangers, smart kids who aren't being unrealistic about their situation with us - let me know.
[url=]Emotional | From Cradle to Crime: Attachment Tip: Indiscriminate Attachment Disorder[/url] I think doing some research and reducing their interactions with strangers is probably your best bet, at least for now.
The berenstein bears have a book about strangers, that's about the best advice I can give since I know nothing about attachment issues. But maybe the book might discourage them from doing it or try talking to them about boundaries? Im sorry I can't be of more help
Had this issue with my 5 and 7 year old placements. We made a rule that there would be no gift giving or receiving unless it was a birthday or holiday. So if they tried giving a stranger a gift I'd step right in and address the child and say "oh no honey, remember that our family rule is no gifts unless it is a birthday or a holiday." Lots of "our family" talk. When they're hanging around with other adults go over and say "stick together with our family please." When I was speaking with another adult and they kept wanting the focus on them I'd say "nope, this is adult conversation time, please read your book, color your picture, etc." Before leaving the house we'd review what was OK to discuss with strangers (the weather, your first name, etc) and what wasn't (pretty much anything else, including that they were foster kids - they loved to tell strangers that - last names, where they go to school or live, etc). Then, when interacting with a stranger as soon as they'd say something that wasn't on the approved list I'd jump right in and say "Remember, we don't discuss personal things like that with strangers." Had to get a little gutsy about saying things right in front of people, but once I did it a few times it got easier. I'd usually follow it up with a comment to the adult about teaching the child about appropriate boundaries with strangers, and usually everyone understood and backed off.
I don't know if this will help but I've been teaching my almost 2 year old to give hugs and kisses in her head to people (and animals and weather and plants). To give a hug or kiss in your head, you close your eyes really tight and then pop them back open and announce "Did it!" She thinks it's a game and has really solved my issue of having to tell her no all the time. We've used it on newborn babies, social workers, tomato plants, cows, dogs we don't know, friends whom we have just hurt (and who don't want to be touched), bugs, toys, birds, etc. It's been working really well. And, I use it at bedtime when she tries to stall me with more hugs and kisses. I just give them to her in my head. She feels loves (and ends the night with a giggle) and I am able to get out of her room easily.
Other people touching the kids is harder though. Maybe you can say "Keep your hands to yourself." :)
Like a previous poster said...sounds like indiscriminate attachment disorder stuff...
"Mommy Shopping"- calling everyone Mommy and wanting them to do Mommy stuff with them (like the swing incidents you mentioned) is NOT normal behavior.
Thats not to say they arent just "friendly" personalities too. I was a SHY child. Hid behind my parents when people tried to talk to me (LITERALLY), so I have always encouraged my kids to be more outgoing and gosh darnit- my youngest bio son is just like shy, but my oldest will get up in front of any group without blinking... some personalities are just more "open" and like to converse with whomever they can find.
My girls apparently had "boundary" issues that the worker was worried about. She has commented many times of how good it is that they only come to me(or Dad) and stick so close to us. They very rarely talk with/to strangers. Im going to have to walk a fine line to encourage outgoingness with them.
So, it is probably a mix of the two....
We have Twin A who has attachment disorder (among other things) and Twin B who is RAD. We've had to severely limit social interaction with the children. If they need something done for them, we have to do it. If we go to the park, I have to be a hover parent. If we go to church I have to ask other people to please not pick them up (even though they are darned cute), to not give them hugs that those things are for Mommy and Daddy.
I recommend a few books for you. Becoming Attached is a good one that explains the why and The Attachment Parenting Book for all the how. It's crucial that you start on this stuff asap.
Remember that you have to fill in those gaps that they didn't have. So, helping your child put on shoes, feeding them bites of food, holding them (even though ours are four) etc. promoted attachment. Also, lots of lap sitting, story reading, touching, complimenting. All very key factors to attachment.
Honestly, I think the term attachment disorder is overused in foster care. Some children absolutely 100% have it. Others don't.
My personal philosophy is that foster children need to be treated as normally as possible with as many normal experiences as possible. With my bio kids, I let people hold them. One was very friendly. Two were more skiddish. I let people hold my little guy now. Not total strangers, of course. He is still a baby with no issues at this point. But, I think it is healthiest for him to experience relationships with other people, yet, know that my husband and I are right there. Inevitably, before long, he wants one of us.
Now, I am a germophobe, so pawing at him bothers me. And, I politely ask that they just look, especially other children.