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A Child’s brain growth is directly related to their early life experiences. Positive experience create positive brain growth. Negative one decrease it. 

Parents: The Source of Children’s Re-sources

 

Children must have a source of satisfaction and security in order for them to re-source their ability to manage themselves and their emotions. A positive parental source responds to a child’s need and satisfies it. This cycle of distress and restoration builds trust, security, and connection. Fortunately, parents only have to be “good enough”. There is no such thing as a perfect parent or a perfect child. There are many opportunities in parenting to prove you are a trustworthy “source” of support. This gives children the chance to “re-source” that support in themselves.

Today, instead of focusing on how to manage your child’s behaviour, look for ways to inspire them with experiences. Research proves that this will create closeness to one another.

Abused Children Similar to War Vets

Children who have been abused or witnessed violence suffer similar trauma to war veterans…

LONDON (Reuters) ­ Children exposed to family violence show the same pattern of activity in their brains as soldiers exposed to combat, scientists said on Monday. In a study in the journal Current Biology, researchers used brain scans to explore the impact of physical abuse or domestic violence on children’s emotional development and found that exposure to it was linked to increased activity in two brain areas when children were shown pictures of angry faces.

Previous studies that scanned the brains of soldiers exposed to violent combat situations showed the same pattern of heightened activity in these two brain areas ­­ the anterior insula and the amygdala ­­ which experts say are associated with detecting potential threats. This suggests that both maltreated children and soldiers may have adapted to become “hyper­aware” of danger in their environment, the researchers said. “Enhanced reactivity to a…threat cue such as anger may represent an adaptive response for these children in the short term, helping keep them out of danger,” said Eamon McCrory of Britain’s University College London, who led the study.

A New Organization and a New Focus: Enabling Children and Families to Succeed

by Adam Pertman

Source: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/adam-pertman/a-new-organization-and-a-new-focus_b_6543152.html

Finding safe, permanent homes for children in foster care – usually through adoption when they cannot return to their families of origin – has become a federal mandate and a national priority during the past few decades. That’s obviously a very good thing, but there’s a too-little-discussed downside to this positive trend: Far too little attention is being paid to serving children after placement to ensure that they can grow up successfully in their new families and so that their parents can successfully raise them to adulthood.

Notice the use of the word “successfully” twice in the last paragraph. It’s the key. It’s also the founding principle of a new organization I’m proud to lead, the National Center on Adoption and Permanency (NCAP). Our mission is to move policy and practice in the U.S. beyond their current concentration on child placement to a model in which enabling families of all kinds to succeed – through education, training and support services – becomes the bottom-line objective.

Along with fellow NCAP team members, I’ll be writing more about our organization and its goals in subsequent commentaries. For now, please check out our website and know we are already at work around the country. Furthermore, I’m delighted to announce that we’re entering into an exciting new partnership designed to significantly enhance our efforts; it is with the American Institutes for Research, one of the world’s largest behavioral and social science research and evaluation organizations. In addition, we are partnering with the Chronicle for Social Change, which like NCAP is dedicated to improving the lives of children, youth and families. 

Because of the traumatic experiences most children in foster care have endured, a substantial proportion of them have ongoing adjustment issues, some of which can intensify as they age. And many if not most girls and boys being adopted from institutions in other countries today have had comparable experiences that pose risks for their healthy development. 

Preparing and supporting adoptive and guardianship families before and after placement not only helps to preserve and stabilize at-risk situations, but also offers children and families the best opportunity for success. Furthermore, such adoptions not only benefit children, but also result in reduced financial and social costs to child welfare systems, governments and communities. 

A continuum of Adoption Support and Preservation (ASAP) services is needed to address the informational, therapeutic and other needs of these children and their families. The overall body of adoption-related research is clear on this count: Those who receive such services show more positive results, and those with unmet service needs are linked with poorer outcomes.

(Next June, the first national conference in over a decade to focus on ASAP – which many in the child welfare community believe is the most important issue facing their field – will take place in Nashville, TN. NCAP is among the many sponsors; learn more about the event here.) 

Our nation has made a concerted effort to move children into adoption and other forms of permanency because, from research and experience, we understand their value for girls and boys who cannot remain in their original homes, a value rooted in the belief that all of them – of every age – need and deserve nurturing families to promote optimal development and emotional security throughout their lives. Indeed, while child welfare systems in many states are still experiencing a variety of problems, it’s also the case that a combination of federal funding and other resources has made a significant difference – that is, they have contributed to a huge increase in the number of children moving from insecurity into permanency over the last few decades, from about 211,000 in FY 1988-1997 (an average of 21,000 annually) to 524,496 in the 10-year period ending in FY2012 (over 52,000 annually).

Furthermore, an analysis conducted by the Donaldson Adoption Institute indicates that, as a nation, we have made some progress in developing ASAP services, particularly in 17 states rated as having “substantial” programs. At least 13 states, however, have almost no specialized ASAP programs, and even the most developed of them often serve only a segment of children with significant needs. For example, many of the specialized therapeutic services have limits in duration or frequency or serve only children with special needs adopted from foster care in their own states, and some serve only those at imminent risk of placement outside their homes. 

To enable families to succeed, ASAP services must become an integral, essential part of adoption. Just as the complex process of treating an ongoing health issue requires continuing care, as well as specialists who understand the complications that can arise and how to best address them, the adoption of a child with complex special needs requires specific services and trained professionals to address the challenges that arise over time. 

When families struggle to address the consequences of children’s early adversity, they should be able to receive – as a matter of course integral to the adoption process, and not as an “add-on” that can be subtracted – services that meet their needs and sustain them. Adoptive families, professionals, state and federal governments, and we as a society share an obligation to provide the necessary supports to truly achieve permanency, safety and well-being for the girls and boys whom we remove from their original homes. 

Given the profound changes that have taken place in the field today, especially the reality that most adoptions in the U.S. are of children from foster care with some level of special needs, permanency for them should focus on more than just sustaining their original families when possible or finding new ones when necessary. We must also provide the resources and supports that will allow them to – here’s that word again – succeed.

Get more information at http://www.nationalcenteronadoptionandpermanency.net

What is Theraplay?

You may have heard of “play therapy” for children but  have your ever heard of TheraPlay? This pioneering approach to attachment-based, family therapy is one that I have been practicing for many years and still find it one of the most practical approaches to working with families, particularly children who have endured trauma. 

Theraplay is a child and family therapy for building and enhancing attachment, self-esteem, trust in others, and joyful engagement. It is based on the natural patterns of playful, healthy interaction between parent and child and is personal, physical, and fun. Theraplay interactions focus on four essential qualities found in parent-child relationships: Structure, Engagement, Nurture, and Challenge. Theraplay sessions create an active, emotional connection between the child and parent or caregiver, resulting in a changed view of the self as worthy and lovable and of relationships as positive and rewarding.

In treatment, the Theraplay therapist guides the parent and child through playful, fun games, developmentally challenging activities, and tender, nurturing activities. The very act of engaging each other in this way helps the parent regulate the child’s behavior and communicate love, joy, and safety to the child. It helps the child feel secure, cared for, connected and worthy.

We call this “building relationships from the inside out.””

Dream Parenting: The Natural Ally

At times parenting can be met with rejection by family members. Some of this can be developmental as a child has drives for independence. Some of it can be a self-protection from intimacy. If I don’t get close to you, then I don’t get hurt. Attempts to parent differently and achieve the family of your dreams requires significant risk in these situations.

You biggest ally is already inherent in you and your family members. It is a biologically-based need for attachment. We are social beings and as such, want to connect with one another even it doesn’t appear on the surface to be true. 

If there has been problems in your closest relationships it may mean that patterns of rejection and defenses of self-sufficiency have been created. These are tough walls to knock down. Start off by believing that you have a primal need to connect as you ally in this new strategy. Find ways to make eye contact and smile without using any words. Look for chances to connect with no words of judgement, correction, or instruction. Just make a connection no matter how small or brief. Make it a personal challenge to increase these moments everyday until you start to see the walls starting to crumble. 

Remember that your family wants this naturally. It was how they are designed. If they don’t get it from you, they will seek it elsewhere but they will find it, good or bad. Make it good starting right now.