Although adopting is filled with many positive and joyous moments, there are some situations that are a bit trickier than others and can leave a parent wondering how to navigate their child through their hardships. For example, all adoptive children have experienced some sort of disrupted attachment and experienced loss. The issues of abandonment and rejection often come into play, creating a fear of loss around new relationships. It is important to allow your adopted child to move at their own pace while encouraging them. Here are some of the many ways to help assure them that they are loved and welcome in their new family:
- Saying thank you when they help you out with something. Positive reinforcement goes a long way!
- Compliment them on who they genuinely are. Compliments on things such as their smile, their hair, how funny you think they are, will go a long way in forming attachment.
- Point out when they do something right such as, “Thanks for being kind to your teacher today.” Or “Thank you for helping me prepare dinner, you’ve been very helpful.” These little statements go a long way!
- Tell them you are proud of them for their accomplishments, whether at school, at home, in sports, etc.
- Recognize their improvements and progress.
- Tell them often how special they are.
- Turn off your phone! This will allow for more attention and focus on your child.
- Set an intention and a goal. What are you trying to accomplish with your child today or within the next few months?
- Make them a priority. Sometimes, you must set aside the chores, the cleaning, or the dinner plans. Plan a time to forget about all that needs done to prioritize your child.
- Create reminders for yourself and your child. Life gets tough sometimes and those little post- it notes around the house can help spread some inspiration.
- Ask about their feelings, thoughts, ideas, opinions, etc. This gives your child a voice while showing that you are interested in their opinion and being a part of their life.
- Display affection for no reason. Sometimes we forget the simple act of hugging our child for no reason at all can be meaningful to your child. Hug them, just because and often.
- Maintain consistency and structure every day so your child knows what to anticipate everyday.
While these are just some ideas, there are many others that help you form a positive connection with your adopted child. Get creative with it, the sky’s really the limit here. Don’t be afraid to try new things, to step outside your comfort zone, or experiment. Effort and consistency is key!