HeartBorn

Inspiration and Support for Foster-Adoption Parents

Archive for the tag “Christianity”

10 Tips for Dealing with a Child’s Demanding Behaviors

Let’s face it – kids will test your limits. They will push your buttons. How do we deal with a child’s demanding behavior? Following are 10 tips we hope will help you manage this difficult phase.

  1. Be concrete – Don’t confuse your child by saying, “In a little while.” Or “In a bit.” Instead, be specific. For example, “We’ll read the book after you finish brushing your teeth.” Or “You can play outside when you put the toys away inside the container.”
  2. Take turns – Practice taking turns with the child. For example, during play time, say, “We are going to take turns choosing what we play. You go first, then I will go next.” You can model this in other areas as well: taking turns picking a movie, what to eat Friday nights and what drink mix, etc. This builds cooperation and teamwork.
  3. Give choices – Try to say “No” less. Instead, give choices. This will allow them to express their voice and gives them a sense of control. To avoid confusion, be careful not to give too many choices. Allowing the child to choose can be used as a distraction. For example, you can say, “You can color or play your DS while you wait for dinner.” Or have things set up for the child to avoid frustrations. For example, use coloring mats during meal times. It promotes learning and invites dialogue while you finish up a meal.
  4. Keep structure – Knowing what’s next alleviates anxiety. I know there are times when keeping structure is difficult. One way to help a child know what’s next is by using a timer. For example, when watching television, say, “When the bell rings, it’s time to turn off the T.V.”
  5. Explain the consequences – Be clear about the consequences before the child has opportunity to “misbehave.” For example, before going to the store, say, “We are only buying what’s on our list.” I find that having the child hold and “help check off” the list helps them focus. When they say, “I want…” I ask, “Is it on our list?” I play it off, then say, “No, it’s not” and just keep walking.
  6. Read a book or watch a movie Books or movies can provide great examples regarding various topics. After reading a book or watching a movie, talk about it. Ask questions that will open the dialogue. Please don’t give examples of what your child is doing wrong. Instead, use the characters and ask the child a question about what happened with the character. To reinforce the concept you are trying to instill, refer back to the character as many times as possible.
  7. Play games – Games have the potential to teach a demanding child the concept of “taking turns.” The child will learn that there are times of rest, passing and other times engaging in “their turn.” Children learn to empathy with others as they learn the game of “loosing” or “winning.”
  8. Model delayed gratification – This is important. Show your child that you are able to wait for those things you really want. For example, when shopping don’t buy an entire outfit. Instead, discuss the concept of being a “good steward.” Even if you can afford it, this will help the child understand that “we can’t always buy what we want.”
  9. Teach the difference between needs and wants – When a child’s impulsive tendency surfaces, they are not able to recognize it. Parenting requires helping your child identify their impulsive behaviors and help them choose wisely.  We don’t need a new bicycle. We want it. We need food, but we don’t need an ice cream cone. We want it. Check your own vocabulary and try to catch yourself when you misuse the word need.
  10. Be consistent and stay calm – As the adult, you have to be consistent and stay calm. It won’t help for you to show your frustration or anger.  In fact, it will only make things worse. So, model staying calm. Remember that eliminating demanding behaviors will take effort and energy. It’s all about trial and error but most of all, it takes time to reinforce these concepts.

We Want to Hear from You! – What are some helpful tools you have used to help with demanding behaviors? What were the results?

A Sudden Goodbye

We were not ready for the call – the one where they tell you the children are to go back home to their biological parent. That’s the call we got yesterday late afternoon. The social worker said if we would be willing to take the kids that same night. Of course, we would not wait until the next day. One night is another night these kids go without their mother. So, we agreed to get all their stuff together and meet in three hours. We agreed we would not tell them anything – they would soon know.

We managed to put all their belongings inside the car and still had time to spare. So, we sat with them and took pictures. I also gave Zoe Boy (ZB) his last meal with us. Zoe Girl (ZG) was not hungry. Even after just short of three weeks, it was hard to imagine our home without them. They had become our family. We truly love these kiddos.

It was time to go. Both ZG and ZB were saying good-bye to our dog Sugar. Now, they didn’t know they were going home to mommy. We told them we were going out to meet someone. ZG started petting Sugar and saying, “I love you sooo much. See you tomorrow ok.” I thought to myself, “No sweetie, this is the last time you’ll get to pet her.” This is the same little girl, who on the first day of seeing Sugar was terrified and asked us to put her away. Look at her now. So confident. So safe. Being so “gentle,” with Sugar – a word we taught them.

On our way to the meeting place, I drove. It was the same place of the first visitation, which left me with mixed emotions. The difference for me is that now I didn’t have to experience this alone – I had my husband next to me. As we arrived to the parking lot, ZG immediately recognizes her mommy’s car. We get out of the car and the social worker was there. Part of me was happy for them, but another part was sad that we would not see them again. My husband was really sad about this. It may sound selfish, but let’s be honest. When you attach to a child, you can’t help but feel that part of your heart is going with them.

We helped the mother put their belongings in her car. She gives us a huge bag of rice, a love offering for taking care of her children. I smiled and told her I was enjoying the sticky rice we were eating daily. We thanked her. I gave her a huge hug and told her that we would be praying for her and for her children. She smiled back. I tried to put myself in her position for just a second… wow, what great joy she must be feeling seeing her kids one more time, but this time knowing that she would be able to bathe them tonight, hug them, kiss them and give them her home cooked meal. I was truly happy for her and the children.

The goodbye was a lot more difficult for my husband than it was for myself. He cried saying goodbye, while I smiled as I said goodbye. One thing about my husband – he has a heart of Gold! He is a genuinely caring and loving individual. One thing to keep in mind is that we all grieve in different ways. If you don’t see this as a loss, let me tell you it sure feels like one.

As we are standing chatting with the social worker, their mother tells us she’s leaving. We wave good-bye for one last time. May the Lord bless those children… may He continue protecting them and providing for their daily needs, may He bring wisdom and strength to their mommy. We start driving off and there is silence. That all familiar silence…

Things we’ll miss about:

Zoe Girl – Her big smile, her loud laughs, bubbles, her love of stickers (I found one this morning as I swept), her long hair, all things princess, pizza, Dora, “Kitty Kat” (Hello Kitty), taking pictures, and learning (homework time).

Zoe Boy – His cute puckered mouth, bubbles, playing ball, his signs pointing to his mouth when he was hungry (which was often the past couple days), his kisses and tenderness, cars, dinosaurs, sword fighting with Albert, diaper changes (that’s when we did most of our eye contact), and coloring.

We will especially miss the daily bath time. We will always remember the first night we gave them a bath and how their eyes lit up as they saw the bubbles and the floating toys. As we continue on this journey, we will refer back to these moments of pure joy!

We Want to Hear from You! – Did you have to say good-bye? What was it like for you? How did you cope with the loss? What are some memorable times you had?

Hearing the Voice of Zoe Girl Sing!

One of the toughest things we have encountered as foster parents is the constant statement, “I want to go home with mommy.” The endless questioning of, “When is mommy coming?” It’s hard being constantly reminded that these children are in great suffering. A warning: You can get to the point of feeling irritated and frustrated toward the child at what may seem like constant nagging, but remember that they are children. Check yourself constantly and bring it back to their hurt. This has been the case for the past couple of nights at our home.

Then came Friday night. For the first time since placement, Zoe Girl (ZG) did not continue asking about mommy or going home. She asked only once and seemed satisfied with our answer. We left the room and the door ajar. A couple of minutes later, to our surprise, he hear ZG singing… I walked over the door and heard her singing the following: “ZG and ZB going to mommy home… la la la la la… we gonna sing and dance… la la la la la…”

There were some mixed feelings as we heard her sing. We were amused to hear her sing for the first time.  Sad for the words we hear hearing. We were witnessing the innocence of a child and our heart was broken at the thought that something like this is going on for her and so many other children. Another part of us was also comforted to know that she was using her inner coping resources to soothe herself to sleep.

It’s moments like these that give meaning to being a foster parent. It’s seeing with your own eyes, that your home brings comfort and safety to a child in need. Now, we have good days and then… well, not so good days, but on those not so good days, we think back on nights like this and we feel refreshed.  We thank the Lord for His daily strength and wisdom with these little ones. We depend on God for continued guidance and discernment to make the best decisions for the sake of these children. We know he will see us through.

We Want to Hear from You! – What are some of the nightly struggles you have had with your little ones? What did you do to help the child cope?

6 Tips for Dealing with Anger Outbursts

So I just experienced ZB’s first anger outburst. I was caressing ZG’s hair, as we’re sitting on the couch watching Veggie Tales, when suddenly ZB pulls ZG’s hair. I said, “ZB, we are nice. Please stop.” He then hits my face, gets off the sofa and walks away backwards, while attempting to spit on me. He continues to point his fingers and tries to spit once again. He fails miserably as it lands on his shirt. He stands behind the sofa and gives me his back. I then walk toward him, get on my knees and say, “Sweetie, I know you’re angry. I feel sad when you hit my face. It hurts. Let’s be nice.” Then, he starts crying, puts his arms up (a sign to carry him). I pick him up and comfort him. He stops crying. I then reinforce the “Be nice” catchphrase by saying, “Isn’t this much better… see how nice we can be to each other.”

After the first incident, we have had several others. I welcome them because I think that ZB is feeling comfortable to just be himself. I know that other times he does it to test us… to see if we will disengage. When he pushes us away, we gently stay in place and take baby steps to enter into his world. We encourage you to do the same. Following are six tips we hope can help in dealing with anger outbursts in your home:

  1. Show empathy – Showing empathy doesn’t mean tolerate the “bad behavior.” It just means you show the child you accept them as a person. Use I messages – “I am sad when you hit me. It hurts. I would like you to keep your hands to yourself.”
  2. Be clear and make it short – Children need to know ahead of time what you expect of them. One of the scripts that we have implemented in our home is the following: “We are nice, we don’t hit.” Don’t give the child a long sermon on the reasons they are not to hit. You will loose them.
  3. Don’t take it personal – Don’t make yourself that important. I do mean this in a loving way. Taking things personal means we allow ourselves to be consumed with “I.” It takes the focus off the child. We are the adults. They are children. Therefore, we are to guide them into more healthy styles of relating.
  4. Role model – If we want these children to do as we say, then we need to model that for them. Remember that these children are hurt children. They may have never had proper boundaries modeled for them. Show them what you mean with your own words and actions. Kids are watching our every move!
  5. Be consistent – Setting boundaries with your child doesn’t mean they will change after the first time. There needs to be plenty of practice experiences. I always say that conflict is great because it allows us (The child and myself) to get to know each other better, to experience each other at a deeper level. Although this statement may sound weird, children will need to learn how to deal with conflict in our home. They will go out into the real world one day, so let’s prepare them.
  6. Always end with touch – Now, if your child does not allow you to touch them, I suggest you respect that boundary. If your child does respond to touch – PLEASE end with a great hug!

We Want to Hear from You! – What did the first anger outburst look like in your home? How did you handle it?

Rough Night

Last night was a bit rough. ZG began asking for her mommy. Then, ZB began pouting and then… cried inconsolably. It can feel so overwhelming to not really know yourself what’s going on. Can’t imagine what it’s like for them. All I could do was tell her that her mommy was with the Dr. trying to get better. That I did not know more. That I was so sorry she could not be home. I held ZB till he fell asleep then laid him down next to his sister. He then wanted to leave the light on, so I left the hallway ones on. I tried going to sleep, but just couldn’t.

Around 4am, ZB wakes up… he turned the lights on. I go to check on him, thinking he may wake up ZG, but she was sound asleep. So, I held him again, laid him to bed and then he slept all the way through 8:30! ZG woke up till 9:30! Overall, I would say things went well… at least for me.

Today, our case manager from Olive Crest (OC) came. They both were very calm and playful. ZG was playing with the cards that Child Share (SC) gave her the day before. I’m so grateful for everyone involved thus far. SC has been very supportive and the gift baskets for the kids were a nice touch. OC… well, I love this organization. These individuals truly care for our children.

Okay, so after our case manager left, we went to the park. It was so much fun. ZB’s personality was coming out just a bit more. One thing I know – he likes to play ball! ZG is a little monkey J She loves the monkey bars… loves to approach other kids and loves to wave. I almost wonder what went so wrong with their mother? She’s done good things for sure. Yet, so many questions are still unanswered.

My husband got a call from children’s services that they want ZG to be at court hearing tomorrow. I am not happy about that. I sure hope they don’t put her on the spot. I also have to tell her so she’s not surprised… somehow I have to learn how to deal with these difficult conversations. This will be my first.

I made their first doctor appointment for this Friday. I’m concerned for ZG – she has a full body rash that usually kicks in at night. Not sure if she’s allergic to something. ZB finally ate today!! He had fruit this morning – orange and he loves apples… he also had cinnamon teddy bears. I’m so relieved, but will still take him to Dr. cause he seems to skinny for his age. Well, that’s my day thus far. If there is time I will continue telling you about this journey. Now time to wake up kiddos from their nap and have some ice cream – yummy!

Today’s Prayer: Wonderful savior, help us guide these children into your Word, your Love and your Salvation. Give us peace, lots of energy. Give me a new back J and bring my husband safely back home tonight. We ask you to take full control of tomorrow’s court hearing. Help little ZG through this process.

We Want to Hear from You! – What have been some of the struggles you have encountered with your little ones?

Our First Day as Foster Parents

I can’t believe we have two little ones at our home today, the same day we are placed on the list. When I saw four missed calls from my husband this afternoon, I knew something was up. I call him back and he tells me, “Did you see my text?” I respond, “No, I just called you right away cause I’m still working.” He says, “We got a call for two little ones. Four year old little girl and her two year old brother. That’s all the information we have. Want to do say yes?” I immediately said, “Yes!” We had already decided since we finalized our certification that the first call we would get, we would say yes. So we did. God’s will is for us to help these children, so there’s no need to pray about it, think about it or wait and see.

I left work early and went straight home. I found my very good friend M.B. helping my hubby put the crib together. I love my friend. This is a woman who has always been there for us, ready and willing to help out with our needs. I’m so grateful and blessed to have this kind of support. So, when I get home, they are almost done with the crib and then M.B. goes to pick up a toddler bed that another good friend was going to give us.

Due to confidentiality purposes, we will identify them as Zoe Girl (ZG) – 4 yr old and Zoe Boy (ZB) – 2 yr old. Zoe means LIFE. That’s my prayer for these children; that they may be filled with Life – God given Life, Spirit filled Life. Okay, so then the social worker calls us. He is on his way with the two little ones. They arrive around 6pm. They come out from the car. ZB just looks at me and stays quiet. ZG is so talkative and just so comfortable and immediately begins to tell us about her toys. I thought about this moment for the past 9 months. I had questions like: What would it be like when they arrived? What will they look like? What will I say? But at that moment, none of those questions mattered. When you see those faces, you just try to welcome them as best as you can. They have just been removed from their home, their comfort, their families and all that they know. The least I can do is just be present with them.

Once their inside, they begin to play with their toys. They did not want to eat anything. ZG wanted was water and ZB wanted milk. We took them a bath and they loved it. They played in the tub with toys. Now, to get them to sleep was a bit of a struggle, but for what they just went through, I think it’s reasonable. ZG had so much energy. She did ask me when she would go home to her mom. My response was, “I’m not sure, but tonight you will stay here with us. You are safe here. Tomorrow is a new day and maybe we’ll know more.” My heart sank!! ZB was almost asleep and doesn’t speak much. It’s ZG who has the questions now. I just pray I know how to handle these questions as the days go bye.

As I sit here it’s 12:50 am and I’m sipping on some chamomile tea. I can’t sleep! I just feel so honored and blessed that our home is being used to welcome and protect these children. This is what Jesus meant when he said in James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” (NLT) Life is about these very moments.

After all the turmoil and last minute shopping, I have so much peace. This can only be from God. I know things are still too soon to know what will happen. I’m not worried about that just yet. All I know is that they are here tonight. Tomorrow is another day. Oh wait! It’s already tomorrow. J I know that it is possible that any day these children may be reunified with their mother (and my prayer is that God does what’s best for these children), but I will enjoy my time with them just for today.

Today’s Prayer: Lord, thank you for your grace and mercy. They are new every morning. We ask for strength – just for today Lord. Give us your wisdom and revelation to know what is right, good and true. To be able to speak words of life to these children. We pray for their mother. Keep her safe Lord. Bring the resources she needs in her life. We trust in You!

We Want to Hear from You! – What about you? Where are you in your journey? Share with us what your first day looked like?

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