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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Ask Dr. Brandy

Ask Dr. Brandy1

Dear Dr. Brandy,

How do you get your child to stay seated in his seat belt? I have a 5 year old that refuses to stay buckled up in the car. We’ve tried everything we can think of, and nothing seems to help… he keeps jumping out of his car seat and unbuckling himself while I am driving. A police officer witnessed this happen once and gave my son a nice long talk about how important it is to wear a seatbelt—this helped for a few weeks but has now worn off. Any suggestions?

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I imagine that this has been a very stressful issue for you and your family! You’re not only dealing with safety issues for your child, but also having to engage in a battle of wills over a simple daily task… and that is draining. With an issue like this one, my first thought is to determine whether or not this is an isolated incident. Is this the only issue you find unmanageable with your child, or is this part of a pattern that you are living day in and day out? Many times, parents aren’t sure when to reach out for help, and they feel like they should be able to handle whatever issue is at hand. If the issue you are struggling with is causing you or another family member distress and if the issue is impacting your ability to live your daily life – then that is a good indication that you might need some outside help. Counseling or family therapy can be very useful for both parents and children, and many issues like this can be resolved in a short amount of time.  A counselor can also help you determine and address whether this issue might be related to a specific condition or special need.  An example of this might be a Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD). One symptom of SPD can include being hypersensitive to and defensive of tactile sensations.  Many parents of children with SPD find themselves in a similar position, when it comes to seatbelts.  A counselor would use specific therapies to help them adjust to tactile overstimulation.  Therefore, if your child needs services (such as mental health services, speech therapy or tutoring), a counselor should be able to provide you with advice and local resources.

But, lets assume your escape artist’s behavior isn’t related to any special needs – and is more related to the issue of behavioral management.  To address the seatbelt problem, I would encourage you to use some positive reinforcement and see how your child reacts. There are many ways that you can do this, such as a “star chart.” Star charts can be a very effective way of encouraging positive behaviors, because it helps the child build on small successes while working toward the bigger goal. Your bigger goal: My child always has a seatbelt on when we are in the car. Sounds kind of overwhelming, right? If we could do that, we wouldn’t have a problem in the first place. Well, that’s why it is the bigger goal. Let’s break it down into smaller goals to get the ball rolling.

First, have a conversation with your child about wearing his seatbelt. This conversation should take place when both you and the child are calm (and preferably in good moods!). Talk about what its like in the car, and what happens when he unbuckles his seatbelt. Can he tell when he is feeling like he wants to climb out of his seat (and if he can’t tell when it is about to happen, can you?) He may not have a good answer as to why he unbuckles—that’s ok. If he can start to identify the times that he feels like he wants to unbuckle the seatbelt, this will be even more helpful. During this conversation, make your wishes known to your child. Talk about why we wear seatbelts and how it keeps us safe. Then, introduce your child to the star chart. Let him color the star chart or design it how he would like (we want him to be excited about it and taking ownership of his goal). Explain to your child that this is a goal you’re going to work on together, and that he will get a star (or sticker) every time he stays buckled in the car. The sticker that your child gets for the star chart should be something he likes already (this is a mini-reward in and of itself). Once your child gets a certain amount of stickers, then he gets a bigger reward. The bigger reward will be the main motivator at the beginning of this process—and can be anything that is a special treat for your child. You might let your child pick what movie you see as a family that weekend, what you eat for dinner, or they can work for a new toy or dessert.

Start small in terms of your expectations and build on small successes. If you have a feeling your child won’t make it more than two trips in a row without unbuckling the seatbelt, then make your first goal two times in a row. If you child easily does two trips in a row to get the reward, then start adding more trips before the reward is earned (2 in a row, then 5 in a row, and so forth). As you start this process, you will have to take the lead with the star chart—but it probably won’t be long before your child takes the initiative himself. Make sure you are consistent with the stickers—always have them on hand and make it a point of every car trip. The star chart itself can be a good topic of conversation for improving behavior as well—ask your child questions about his chart, and you can use it to redirect his attention if you feel like he’s starting to act up. You can say something as trivial as “Hmm… I wonder what sticker you will get next for the star chart! What sticker will it be next to?” or “Hey, it sounds like you’re getting worked up back there… lets calm down and take some deep breaths. Can you count the stickers on your chart as we take deep breaths? Count with me…”

Eventually, it will get easier and easier for your child to accomplish the small goals and you’ll see more consistency with staying seated in the car. Your need for the star chart may fall away, but finishing it can be a great way to celebrate with your child—you’ve both done hard work and accomplished something important!

Here are some chart examples you might wish to utilize:

seat belt (***Click the link for a Seat Belt Chart in PDF format)

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Below are some alternative strategies you might also consider.  After all, you know your child best – and you might need more than one strategy!

1. Explain that seatbelts are non-negotiable and are required to go anywhere in the car.  Logically explain that if he doesn’t want to wear his seatbelt, then you won’t be able to go anywhere. Plan your next outing to somewhere ambiguous, (perhaps to the store to pick up a few things) – but plan your trip where the traffic won’t be hectic and can support your need to pull to the side of the road quickly.  You should probably plan for this outing to fail.  Get in car and go, adjusting your mirror so you can see him.  As soon as he touches the seatbelt to open it, pull over, stop the car and…. sit.  Explain that you can’t drive until his seat belt is on, but don’t bargain, plead or bribe.  Simply put yourself on “broken record” mode and say only:  “I can’t drive without your seat belt on. This can be a quick trip or a long one, depending on how quickly you follow the rules.” Begin driving only when the seatbelt has been properly utilized.  If you have to abandon this trip due to non-compliance, turn around and drive home (but only progressing when his seatbelt is on and parroting the same language as above).  Next time, plan a playdate or something fun.  Implement the same approach as above on the way to the event.  It’ll be an interesting experiment to see if he abides the safety measures when you’re on your way to something fun vs. a more mundane excursion.  Missing a playdate or fun experience may reinforce that seatbelts are more important.  If your child remains in control on fun outings but not errands, plan errands to continue reinforcing your message.  Repeat as necessary but ultimately knowing it may fail for a few trips. You may also have to consider having him remain home with a parent or sitter, instead of tagging along on errands in the future.  Once he knows you are absolutely SERIOUS about the consequences… He’ll get it.

2. “Do Kangaroos Wear Seatbelts” is a good book for Toddlers and Preschoolers about the importance of wearing a seatbelt.  It’s a perfect read for the pell-mell toddler thru six year old, who may be frustrated by the safety measures imposed by loving adults.  Use the book to open up discussions about seatbelt use, including why you insist he abide by this important rule.

3.  Do you have activities available to the child to focus on in the car?  Consider small toys, a snack, or even this resource the state of Alabama puts out regarding seatbelt safety: http://www.adph.org/injuryprevention/assets/BoosterActivityBook.pdf.  Coloring these pages would keep the non-reader busy.  You can promise to read the words on the coloring pages upon arrival to your destination.  This resource takes a no-nonsense approach to teaching children why seatbelt safety is a requirement and not a choice.

4.  Many parents invent and sing a seatbelt song whenever they get into a car.  Sometimes a little silliness incents easy compliance. To the tune of “Star Wars” sing “Buckle your seatbelt, buckle your seatbelt, buckle your seatbelt, when you get in the car.”  Other parents sing a truly annoying tune and only cease when it’s been accomplished: “Put your seatbelt on…put your seatbelt on… I’ll stop singing this tune when you put your seatbelt on… (repeat)”

5.  Finally, wear your seat belt correctly every time you are in a car.  We all know that children learn best from adult role models.  You should also make sure that everyone sits upright when using seat belts.  Never let children lean against windows or doors, or lie down.  Never put the shoulder belt under the arm or behind the back.  Since your child is fighting basic seatbelt safety, stick firm to all of these boundaries and never waver.

Ask Dr. Brandy

As we mentioned on facebook, we are starting a new interactive adventure for our families. “Ask Dr. Brandy” will be a monthly (or as needed) resource for having your parenting questions answered. Dr. Brandy is readily available with answers to your most challenging questions. Her answers will be posted here in another effort to offer support to our families – prospective, adoptive and newly placed.

Ask Dr. Brandy1
Dear Dr. Brandy,

Q: As first time adoptive parents, what can we do to prepare a toddler for the addition of an adoptive sibling when so many things are unknown? We have been talking and reading books about being a big brother and books about adoption. We’ve also given baby a placeholder nickname to help with association when we talk about him/her. Can you recommend any other creative ideas to help with a smooth transition?

A: What a great question! Being in tune with all family members, even your youngest ones, is incredibly important as you transition a new child (or children) into your home.

Let’s start by highlighting some of the ways that you’ve already begun to prepare your toddler—because what you’re doing already is noteworthy and helpful! While your toddler may not completely understand what it will be like to be a big brother, talking about it now is beneficial because you are introducing him to the language you’ll use in the future as well as prepping him for the potential change in his role within the family. By talking about being the “big brother,” you’re letting your child know that his future in your family is still secure.  He might not be the baby anymore, but he’s still an important player!

Reading age-appropriate books about adoption is another one of the most helpful things that you can do. As your child sees the characters in the pages get new brothers and sisters by way of adoption, it becomes a normal event in his world. Once you are placed with a child, I would encourage you to go back to those books and re-read them, this time using the story to relate to what is happening in “real life.” This not only gives your child quality time with you, but also allows him a safe way to talk about thoughts and feelings about adoption and the new family dynamic.  If you are the creative type, consider creating your OWN book populated with your toddler’s photos and addressing topics you consider valuable for the future!  This can be easily accomplished utilizing Shutterfly or another internet based photo print service.

Once you know the details about how and when your adoptive child will join your family, there are several things that you can do to ease the transition for your toddler. Allowing your child to take part in some of the preparation activities can also be a good way to help prepare them for the addition of another child. Let your child help as you get the baby’s room ready or make your trips to the store gathering supplies. This is a great time to reiterate again that the baby will be sharing your child’s space, not taking their place. Help your child envision what that life might look like, and how they might feel once it happens. Give your child some specifics about his new sibling, such as age, a physical description, or what activities the baby likes to do, but remember to keep it age appropriate and positive (if you would be embarrassed by them yelling it out in the middle of the grocery store, that might be a piece of information your child doesn’t need to know.)

If you are having conversations about adoption in an age-appropriate way, you are doing the best that you can to prepare your child. Because there are so many unknowns in adoption, it can be difficult to prepare a toddler for the complex ways that his life is about to change. As a parent, one of the most important things that you can do is be prepared for your child to have a reaction to the adoption. If you are ready, you will be able to see your child’s increased crankiness as their way of telling you “Hey, I’m having a bit of a hard time with this… I might need some quality time” as opposed to just assuming that he or she is being intentionally difficult.  Utilizing the “Feelings Charts” we have stored on Pinterest (our user name is: CHIFamilies) would be an excellent way of touching base with your toddler about how they are feeling about the idea of a new sibling.  You can use these tools to discuss future experiences in a basic way  (“How will you feel to have a baby brother/sister?”  and “How will you feel if that baby takes your toy?”  etc.).

Some kids will exhibit negative behaviors while they are warming up to their new role as big brother or big sister; they might regress and act younger, may have difficulty sleeping or eating, or may throw more tantrums than usual.  This is quite normal and it’s easy to see why they might have a rough time—parents that were previously available round-the-clock are suddenly less available, due to the increased needs a newly-placed child will bring. At this point, finding moments for quality alone time with your older child can help reassure your child that even though mom and/or dad are busy caring for the new baby, they are still loved and cared for too. If you find your child acting out, some quality alone time with a positive focus may be just what you’re looking for.  The “Feelings” charts referenced above can also be an age appropriate tool for processing your toddler’s emotions at the time of and after your placement.

Especially in the first few months post-placement, when sibling rivalry can reach its crescendo, make a point of trying to catch your child cooperating, being loving or having fun each day.  You can start practicing for this in advance by visiting another family with an infant.  Praise behaviors that will be especially important as a New Big Brother/Sister. (“Wow!  The way you shared your toy with the baby was so kind! It made me feel so proud!,” etc.)

Upon placement, don’t hesitate to reach out to your social worker or other adoptive families, as many families have been through similar situations!  Join an in-person or online adoption support group, and freely ask the advice of parents who’ve been down this road before.  Or better yet, consider joining Chrysalis House, Inc.’s support group!

–Dr. Brandy

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What questions would you like answered?  You can post questions here or email to stacy@chrysalishouse.com.