Pinterest & Adoption

 

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As you likely know, Pinterest is a social bookmarking website for saving, organizing and sharing things. Many, many people have already recognized its benefits for design, fashion, beauty, cooking and other lifestyle topics. But, it can have some wonderful benefits for couples and singles who are hoping to adopt ~ or in the middle of that process, too.

We have been building our agency Pinterest page for a long while now.  And, we’ve proudly amassed a wealth of resources.  In fact, our Pinterest boards have made it hard to keep this “blog” alive — We’ve come to notice that so much important content has already been written and it’s written so well, that, well… why would CHI write it again?

Please accept our invitation visit and “follow” our Pinterest page: Chrysalis House.  You will then have access to a resource that we have designed to support any and every family, including those who are -or- aren’t clients of our adoption agency.

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We have reviewed a wide collection of topics and amassed over 800 pins all nicely divided into boards on adoption and issue specific topics such as:  anger management, special needs, chores, developmental milestones, safety strategies, foster/domestic/inter-country adoption, bonding and attachment, nutrition, discipline, transracial adoption and …probably just about everything in between, too.  We’ve created boards on: what to do while you are waiting (prospective adoptive parents), how to coach adoptive relatives, how to apply for adoption grants and even how to get ready for back-to-school.

Our Pinterest boards are there for you and they. are. free.  Please access our Pinterest pages whenever it can be of use to you.  Simply put, that’s why it’s there.  And, if you see a topic that we’ve missed, we hope you’ll make a recommendation for us to research it too!  (Just email it to stacy@chrysalishouse.com & she’ll humbly accept that challenge!)

But, there’s another reason why we bring up Pinterest…  This social platform can be part of any waiting parent’s adoption networking strategy. It’s popular and has many millions of visitors ~ which is a fantastic audience.  68 percent of Pinterest visitors are women and 70.9% are between the ages of 17 to 44– which includes the demographic you want to reach and connect with, when you are prospective adoptive parents seeking a domestic adoption.  According to a report, Pinterest drives more referral traffic than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined and is now one of the top 10 social networking websites.

How waiting adoptive parents can use Pinterest:

It’s easy to use and once you’ve joined, sharing, following and “liking” others couldn’t be easier. Just create a board and start pinning.  Conveying “who” you are with words can be a challenge.  Pinterest helps you show the “real” you when it comes to telling an authentic story.  Because Pinterest reveals “who” you are through photos and images that you personally identify with, it gives you the chance to connect with prospective birth parents on a visceral level.

For waiting parents, beyond research on “what you can expect while you’re expecting” –you can also use Pinterest to showcase your personality and share many bits and pieces of your life that didn’t make it into your profile.  Your Pinterest page can show additional facets to your family like: hobbies, traveling plans, your love for the garden, recipes you’d like to try, charities you support, and can ultimately reflect …how you hope to parent that child that you hope to adopt.  Consider loading your families Adoptive Profile to your Pinterest page and consider Pinterest to be another resource for connection(s).  Finally, for anyone who is going through the sometimes arduous (but eventually rewarding) process that is adoption, Pinterest’s beauty, messages of hope, and celebration of the everyday can be a daily pick-me-up.

Now, isn’t that (P)interesting?  (wink.)

 

 

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Doodle Therapy: A Worry Box

A Worry Box: A Tool For Helping Children Process Their Anxieties 

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For millions of children, worry and anxiety can be a real but absolutely normal problem. Worries that fall within what we consider to be “normal” limits – can still negatively impact a child’s ability to play, interact with others, focus on schoolwork and even sleep. However, for children coming from adverse backgrounds – more intense worry and anxiety can occur. This stems from an acute stress response, which ultimately causes the child to respond with more intense hypervigilance and fear.Today, I’ll be sharing a creative activity and tips to help you begin addressing the worries of the child in your care.

Typical symptoms/signs of worry and anxiety can include:

  • Expressing irrational fears or concerns about their own safety or the safety of others.
  • Feeling nervous, sad or angry
  • Having difficulty falling and staying asleep.
  • Feeling too concerned with the opinion of others, perfection or people pleasing.
  • Excessively worrying about or refusing to go to school.
  • Experiencing symptoms such as frequent upset stomach or headaches. (These, of course, can be signs of other ailments. Be sure to consult your child’s physician.
  • Feeling overly self-conscious, doubting themselves or having unrealistic expectations of themselves.

To be diagnosed as an anxiety disorder, the above symptoms must cause severe distress in the child’s life and interrupt normal functioning. Generalized anxiety disorder is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry. People with symptoms of Generalized Anxiety Disorder tend to always expect disaster and can’t stop worrying. Daily life becomes a constant state of worry, fear, and dread. Eventually, the anxiety so dominates the person’s thinking that it interferes with daily functioning. These symptoms will be present for most days for at least 6 months. It’s important to be aware that extreme worries may require services from a professional to fully overcome. Please also discuss any overt concerns or questions about your child’s anxiety with your CHI social worker.

If I should notice these types of symptoms in my child, what should I do?

The most important thing that you can do is talk with your child, remembering that an anxious child will likely have a hard time expressing themselves. They may not know what “it” is that they are specifically anxious about. It is helpful to ask questions and get the child to be as specific as possible about what worries him or her.

This is where a Worry Box can help. Writing worries down on a small piece of paper encourages your child to get right to the point of what is bothering him or her. Then, by creating a time and place to talk about his or her feelings, the Worry Box can help you open up lines of communication that are otherwise difficult to establish. That communication can go a long way to helping your child be able to manage worries better and give you an insight into how he or she is thinking and feeling about life. The Worry Box contents can also be supplied to a counselor or therapist when accessing a professional for assistance.
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 How Does the Worry Box work?

  1. Keep your Worry Box in a convenient place, like the child’s bedside table or on a dresser.
  2. Instruct your child that whenever they have a worry, he or she should simply write down this particular burden – and put it in the box.
  3. Every night, open the Worry Box with your child and review the worries they’ve made note of. Talk about each worry, how he or she is feeling and share some ways to handle the problem causing the worry. With each review – you might find some of the worries have gone away on their own, while others might not and continue to be a talking point.
  4. If the worry has gone away, discard the written worry. Cheerlead your child for handling it! If the worry has not gone away, keep it in the Worry Box for another review.
  5. If the child makes it through a day without any “worries” celebrate this accomplishment.  Touch base that this has been an honest achievement though.  If the child is withholding or internalizing the worries – there may be an issue with feeling safe enough to make their report.

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This common and effective therapeutic journaling technique used by child therapists can help your child learn to manage his or her worries better in three ways:

  1. By writing down their worries, your child can get a clear idea of what he or she is worried about. A Worry Box is a great facilitator of conversation and relating. Children who use a Worry Box know they will review the worries soon with an adult they trust, so they can express worries by writing them down and getting them out of his or her head for a while. When you bring out the box each time, explain that the first step in helping a worry is – acknowledging it.
  2. Second, the Worry Box sparks conversation between you and your child. Often, children can be uncomfortable or scared to bring up a worry out of the blue. The adult will get insight into what is on the child’s mind and the child will learn that the adult is “safe” for sharing their worries.
  3. Third, over time, your child may begin to learn better ways to manage his or her worries. A Worry Box helps your child recognize that some worries that are a waste of time and that by writing and talking about worries with a trusted person, your child can also find help to reconcile them. They celebrate progress as the worry is diminished and “thrown out.” They learn that the parent is a safe and non-judgmental resource to review their fears with.

How do I help my child? I’m just not sure what to say?

  • Help your child identify his or her worried (or irrational) thoughts by writing them down on a piece of paper.

For example: “I am afraid someone is going to break into our house.”

  • Help your child reframe his or her thoughts into positive or rational thoughts when you review worries with him or her.


For example: “I am safe, Mom and Dad won’t let anyone hurt us.” 
“We have a security system.” 
“The dog would always alert us and we can call the police.”

  • Help your child develop a healthy plan to help him or her reduce anxious feelings. 


For Example: You can use the Worry Box; Listen to calm music; Practice deep breathing; Read; or Do some Yoga poses. Teach your child to be assertive (if a child is worried a friend doesn’t like him or her, encourage your child to talk to that friend)

How to make a worry box: This is quite simple. All you need is a box ~ you can use a shoebox or purchase a fancier shaped cardboard box at a craft store. Let your child choose embellishments to decorate the box with. Stickers, paint or drawings will do the trick. For the example, we used magazine pieces collaged to the box and individual magazine letters to label it.

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You can overtly label the box “My Worry Box” or your child can choose to be more discreet about it – so that the box doesn’t draw unwanted attention from friends/visitors. Place a pad of sticky notes or notecards alongside the box, which can be used to make note of the worries as they occur. Place the worries inside the box as they are written.

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If you have more than one sibling experiencing worry and anxiety – you can have the children create separate boxes or utilize a combined box. The parent will want to decide whether to address the worries separately or as a group. I would advise addressing them separately so as to – isolate the “worries,” keep them from spreading to the group, and to give individualized attention and support in overcoming the worry. If presented in a group setting: The parent should divert the other siblings from advice giving that is not helpful. Focus on the feelings of the person who wrote the worry, how the rest of the group relates and if they have ever experienced the worry themselves. You can then talk as a group about coping and turning our worries around. 

 ~Stacy Dinkel, M.A.

 

Doodle Therapy: The Family Playdate

Did you know that May 10 is National Family Playdate Day?  (Okay, I’ll be honest. Neither did I — until I saw it on Facebook!)

But, apparently a group has deemed May 10 to be a Family Playdate Day – and in theory, it’s a really great idea for all of us to make meaningful plans for time together as a family.
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Today, within one simple project my little family built two stepping stones.  We played as a family. We were artful (& Messy).  We had fun.  We had great conversations.  AND, we managed to create two lovely gifts to be given to the “Nana’s” in our lives in honor of Mother’s Day.

There are numerous benefits to spending quality time together, but for families touched by fostercare and adoption, the following are really important:

1. Participating in family oriented activities are meaningful and focused opportunities to bond and connect as a family.
2. Promising your personal time at least one day out of the week can help members in the family gain a sense of self worth and belonging – and to assign a true value to “family time.”
3. While spending time together, family members learn how to listen and work cooperatively together.
4. Children that do not have a sense of family values are more likely to be influenced by friends that do not necessarily have their best interests at heart.
5. Parents often admit to frustration when it comes to communication. Parents can use this time to relate to their children and actively listen while everyone is together. Using creative projects like this is a good way to create a “release” and to open up discussion about what is going on in each members life.

Our Stepping Stones project can make a great Family “Playdate” for any family. The outcome can be made to embellish your own lovely garden – or can be a memento/gift given to Mothers, Grandmothers or Birth Mothers in celebration of an important milestone, in celebration – or just to say “I love you” any day of the year.

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All that’s needed for the project pictured is a stepping stones kit. My family used two kits with the goal of making a stepping stone for the grandmother on each side of our family. We actually abandoned the templates, combined the embellishments from the two different kits and just did what we thought looked nice by laying out our “plan” on the table. (If you’re especially crafty, you can make your own stepping stones without a kit – by simply using concrete ).

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If you haven’t been inspired to make stepping stones, here are a few other options that you might consider for your own Family Playdate(s):

* Start a garden together and teach the children about growing their own foodstuffs. This also encourages healthy eating!

* Plan a meal from new recipes or even from another culture, assigning each family member a job. Set the table according to the cultural traditions and share a discussion about similarities and differences.

* Plan an outing to the park together and play games, go on a nature hike or make a picnic together.

* Create a Scavenger Hunt or “I spy” list of items which can be found outside. Head out on a family walk and use cameras and/or iPhones to record group shots next to each item found.

* Create a “We bicycled 100 miles” chart and record each mile rode together as a family. Use a smart phone app to track each of your bike rides so that you know your mileage. This can also be done during walks or jogs.

Basically, just choose a project that is easy enough for every family member to participate in. Encourage children to use their unique talents to make the project special. The most important thing – is that it should result in lots of fun!

What ideas do you have for a Family Playdate?

~Be well and Be Creative!  Stacy Dinkel, M.A.

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If you are interested in creating stepping stones like ours, we used the following kits: photo stepping stone kit   and mosaic stepping stone kit .

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Handmade Gifts!

Whether you are keeping in touch with birth parents through a fully open adoption arrangement, are remembering previous foster parents who remain invested in your child’s life ~ or spoiling Dad, Grandma’s or Pa’s ~ nothing beats a handmade gift from you and your child. Activities of this nature can simultaneously blow the recipients mind – while naturally encouraging your own family bonding and togetherness. It can also be the beginning of a meaningful holiday tradition with you and your child(ren). Kids love to participate in gift giving and the act of creating is very appealing to them.

Mementos made as gifts can incorporate cute little hand or footprints like this adorable Santa Claus Salt Dough creation.

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Perhaps make a new one each year, which reflects how much your child has grown. Add the child’s signature on the back and note the date.

Another possibility could be a nice little album of select artistic goodies brought home from school (you know… the ones that come in such high numbers that you’re not totally sure how many you should really keep?) After removing the ones you can’t personally live without, invite your child to sit down and create a scrapbook from the others. Be as generous as you like, keep it simple – or decorate it to the hilt with other scrapbooking embellishments. If you can’t part with the original art pieces – try using photos or scans of each piece instead. Photos or scans could also be easily loaded to Shutterfly and used to create a yearly calendar!

Other ideas:
Photo Magnets
Personalized Journal – you could use photos printed on paper or child art instead!
Art Magnets

What special ideas does your family turn into memorable treasures?