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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Five Ways to Encourage Your Newly-Adopted Children

Whether they’re two or twelve, your newly-adopted children need tons of encouragement.  And that’s a tall order to fill… particularly if they’re constantly messing up.  Which they will.  Because they don’t know all of the things that you would normally teach them from the age of birth on up.

Here are a few ways to encourage your children:

1.  Settle for less than perfect.  Just for a while.  Really.  Perfection takes time and pressure that they don’t need every minute of every day.  Settle it in your heart:  perfect is not going to happen for a while.  So praise them for the good things, and let the others things… slip (gasp!)… at least for the first six months.  (Yes, you can correct them, just not constantly, and definitely not with threats.)

2.  Understand that they know nothing about family life.  Nothing.  As in:  respect your parents, play nicely with the siblings, help around the house, eat properly, hang up your clothes, don’t throw trash under your bed, or dirty toilet paper outside of the toilet.  Keep reiterating.  Give access to good role models.  Rinse.  Repeat.  You are starting from the very beginning.  Blank slate.  “Quick” is not going to enter into the equation.

3.  If internationally-adopted, give them a break on the English during the first sixth months.  Keep in mind, they have a new:  home, family, country, expectations, culture, just to name a few.  English will come.  Maybe not overnight.  Definitely not overnight.  Refuse to obsess.  Give them tasks, little by little, that will stretch the English, while not breaking them.

4.  Give them an opportunity to make friends, even very superficial ones.  You’re not running a prison camp!  Friendship can be very nurturing, as long as it’s not around-the-clock.  Let them spread their wings a bit.

5.  Make time for the kids.  They will need you as much as a newborn baby.  Put the majority of your life on hold, again, for 6-12 months, in regards to anything stressful or above-and-beyond the ordinary.  “Boring is best in the beginning” is my motto.  Keep it simple, keep it quiet, the children need you, massive amounts of “you”.

There you have it.



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4 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Gwendolyn says:

    Amen, Sister! I know that I couldn’t understand how many gaping holes and how many microscopic pin holes there would be in our kids’ experience of life! It was amazing to me, and yet so obvious once a friend came to stay with her 18 month old daughter… who already was much more developed in some ways than our then 8 & 12 year olds.

    A couple of weeks ago, a friend said to me, “A child shouldn’t be able to run your life.” I responded, “Think about all the changes you made in your life when your children were babies.” She replied, “We didn’t change our lives for the children.” I think she has a kind of cultural amnesia: everything she did with her kids was age-appropriate to the kids and well-endorsed by society. The truth is, even with much older adoptees, we have to provide the kind (and content) of nurture that most children receive in the first 18 months of their lives.

    • avatar admin says:

      You’re right, Gwendolyn, that’s the best way to describe it. They’re babies for all intents and purposes. Thinking of it that way can help to keep us from growing impatient or resentful (not that it always works, but that’s where we’re headed, at least!)….

  2. I don’t know if this holds true for everyone, but I found that much of Jupiter’s emotional development started when she came home. This was illustrated very clearly when she exhibited stranger anxiety almost nine months to the day from when we came home. Now that she’s older that difference is not so easily defined. But I can still count on her emotional development being a year or so behind her peers. Fortunately she missed the school cutoff by a week in terms of birthdate, so she’s one of the oldest in her class which helps offset some of that difference.

    • avatar admin says:

      I know what you mean, Wendy. Ours have taken a long time to come up to speed, and some are still not there. Then again, I’m not sure how many home-grown kids are tremendously mature these days, either! As long as they’re not being picked-on by any peers, I say let them take as long as they need. They were in survival mode for so long…. That does help that Jupiter is one of the oldest in her class–what a blessing to have that cushion.

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