Pinterest & Adoption



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.


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 & 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.)



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?


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)


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:  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.

Disciplining & Rewarding Children


Discipline teaches children what is right and wrong; what they need to know and do; as well as the rules they need to follow.  Discipline doesn’t include harsh, critical and/or rigid rules.  It is a parenting method of creating guidelines for children.  Please refer to our previous blog post on “House Rules” for tips on establishing your expectations of children.  Alongside using house rules and your favorite alternative discipline methods for teaching children appropriate behavior, you may also employ rewards of various types.

Rewards are a pleasant consequence for behaving in an appropriate or desirable way.  They reinforce good behavior.  Rewards such as praise, nurturing touch and privileges tell children you appreciate their efforts.  There is no such thing as recognizing too much good in children, as long as the positive reinforcement is sincere.  Remember this rule to encourage children to behave:  What you pay attention to is what you’ll get more of.  If you pay more attention to the good things children do, then you will get more of the good things!

Praise is the single most powerful reward a child or anyone can receive.  Gentle hugs, back rubs and soft strokes of the child’s back are all nice, positive types of nurturing touch. When paired with praise – both rewards make a powerfully motivating combination.

Privileges serve as excellent rewards for children.  A privilege can be a special meal, a playdate, extra TV time, getting to stay up late, a few extra stories, or other behaviors/activities your children enjoy.

Some parents like to reward their children with various objects, which can include stickers to assorted toys.  Determine what your child likes and occasionally reward your child with an object.

Allowance is a useful type of reward for older children.  The goal behind paying children an allowance is not so much to incent behavior – but to teach them how to manage money.  Pay children small amounts of money weekly and encourage them to save and spend it wisely.  Children should be participating in the household chores long before they begin getting an allowance.

On our facebook page, we’ve been sharing a collection of positive reinforcement ideas as well as Chore charting and designation ideas.  Visit for regular postings on resources that can help you streamline your parenting approach.

These are some of our favorites recently shared on facebook:

The caught being good jar:

Reward your child with your time!  The Top 10 things children really want their parents to do with them:

And, several DIY Chore Chart Options:

Family Rules


Keeping households “happy” involves a myriad of things, including operating under a set of rules. Creating house rules saves a lot of emotional energy that may have been used to fuss and argue.  The relational skills your kids learn at home—respecting others’ feelings and their property—will also make it easier for them to form healthy relationships with friends, college roommates, their spouses, coworkers, etc. in the future.

Family Rule Charts can be especially helpful when a prospective adoptive child joins an intact family.  Any foster or internationally adopted child may be more familiar with how a former household or care facility works and can easily assume that you expect the same standards.  Therefore, discussing Family Rules upfront can help keep the peace – and also offer the prospective adoptive (or adopted) child some comfort in adjusting to a brand new household and world.

Family Rules are a set of Do’s and Don’ts that serve as guidelines for carrying out family morals and values, creating a basis for discipline.  They are developed by all family members, apply to all members and can be reviewed on a regular basis to determine how well the family is doing in following the rules.  The purpose is to establish consistent guidelines that will help everyone know what IS and what ISN’T expected of them.  They encourage family members to take responsibility for their own behavior and to be contributing members of the family.  They teach cooperation and make living together much more pleasant.  They help ensure that everyone in the family has input into how the family operates and knows the standards of acceptable behavior.  

Let’s talk about the.. Rules for establishing the Rules:

*Rules should involve everyone’s participation.  If grandma or grandpa play an active parenting role, they should be involved.
*They are designed to promote and reinforce desirable behaviors. 
*They help children learn appropriate behaviors through parental modeling. (You can’t build a strong family team in a “Do as I say, not as I do” environment!)
Tips for having a discussion about the House Rules:
1. Have everyone sit around the table to discuss potential rules.  Have young children sit on laps or be present even if they can’t contribute in developing the rules.
2. Share problem behaviors by encouraging everyone to discuss behaviors they feel are problems.  Talk freely about the issues that need to be worked on.  Avoid blaming statements and fault finding.
3. Have a large sheet of paper or poster board and a magic marker.  Draw a line down the center of the paper.  Label one column “Do’s” and the other column “Don’ts.”
4. Brainstorm a list of rules.  Allow children to be active in brainstorming the list.  The goal is for parents to have children come up with some of the rules they’d like to see on the list.  For example, if the parent would like a rule in putting toys away, initiate this by saying: “What kind of rule should we have about putting toys away?”  
5. If there is a behavior that is a particular problem for one child more than the others, solicit the suggestion from that person.  “Julie, what rule should we have about keeping the playroom clean?”  Julie will come up with the solution:  “Do put the toys away.  Don’t leave them on the floor.”  Always praise Julie for coming up with a great rule!  Repeat the process until all the issues are covered.
6. Keep the rules simple and specific.  A rule like, “No running in the house” is too vague.  Phrase the rule like:  “Don’t chase the dog or play fetch in the house.” and “Do play ball with the dog in the backyard.”  Remember, for every “what not to do” there has to be a “what to do.”  This way you are substituting what you want – for what you don’t want.
7. Limit Family Rules to a list of five to seven.  Keeping a shorter list of rules will help the children remember them easily, feel they are manageable – and practice them more efficiently.
8. Identify a consequence and reward for each rule.  For the rules to have meaning, a consequence must be associated with each.  That is, when children choose to misbehave, a consequence will follow.  When a child chooses to behave by following a rule, a reward should also follow.  This teaches children that rules have meaning.
9. Post the Rules in a place so parents and children can refer to them when a behavior needs to be performed.  “Cassidy, I need you to follow our family rules and pick up your toys from the play room floor.”
10. Hold regular family meetings to review the rules.  They are not written in concrete and need not apply “forever,” however.  When a behavior is no longer a problem, consider having a “Rule Dropping” Party.  Discuss that the rule has now become a family moral or value.  If a new issue comes up, put it on the list of Do’s and Don’ts as you drop another rule.
In the event these guidelines are too specific for your family, you can certainly establish Family Rules on a lesser scale designed to fit the needs of your specific family.   Our biggest point is that a family with clear and consistent expectations – will be a happier family!
What Family Rules inspire your home?  

Does discipline need a firm hand?


Experts think not… as was described by a recent article in the Washington Post.  First, let us clarify loud and clear that Chrysalis House, Inc. policy does NOT support the use of corporal punishment.  It just doesn’t have a place in parenting children who have adverse histories, especially involving previous abuse.

Physical punishment can give the dangerous and unfair message that “might makes right”, that it is permissible to hurt someone else, provided they are smaller and less powerful than you are. The child then might conclude that it is permissible to mistreat younger or smaller children. When he becomes an adult, he might feel less compassion for those less fortunate than he is, and fear those who are more powerful. This can hinder the establishment of meaningful relationships so essential to an emotionally fulfilling life.

Because children learn through parental modeling, physical punishment can deliver the message that hitting is an appropriate way to express feelings and to solve problems. If a child does not observe a parent solving problems in a creative and humane way, it therefore, can be difficult for him to learn to do this himself. For this reason, unskilled parenting often continues into the next generation.

Gentle instruction, supported by a strong foundation of love and respect, is a more effective way to bring about commendable behavior based on strong inner values, instead of superficially “good” behavior based only on fear.

Practicing a more peaceful parenting approach means that parents understand that behavior is never the problem from the child’s point of view. The child is behaving the way he is because there is something that he wants and needs – and doesn’t know any other way to get it other than the way he is presently behaving. When the child learns and knows a better, more responsible way to get what she needs and wants she will behave better, thus ending that particular problem of misbehavior.

Ah ha!  Parents, let’s embrace the idea to teach your child a better, more responsible behavior to help your child get what he wants. Once that is accomplished the child has what they want and the parent also has what they want.  Spanking doesn’t show the child how to develop self-control. Spanking may stop the child then and there, but there can be a cost emotionally and cognitively to a child, and over the long run, it doesn’t usually lead to the child learning not to repeat the behavior that resulted in the spanking in the first place. It can also lead to the child learning to behave because of fear, not because of respect.

It takes a long time for a child to learn how to control themselves. We hope that by age 5 there is a greater ability to sense that people other than themselves have needs and that they can stop themselves from doing things that will hurt somebody, not because they are afraid that they will get hurt themselves if they do the “wrong thing,” but because they care about the well-being of other people. These are the foundations of self-esteem and empathy, which we all want children to develop.

Spanking might damage your relationship and trust. Do you remember being hit as a child? Do you ever remember thinking afterward, “I’m so thankful my parent loves me enough to hit me?” Of course you didn’t!  Many experts agree that no one can “learn” when they’re afraid. It has been explained that it is biologically impossible to learn and implement higher-order thinking when fearful. The fear response triggers the fight or flight instinct and adrenaline and cortisol flood our bloodstreams and brains. If you want your child to learn something, it’s critical to reduce fear rather than increase it.  Spanking might also teach children to lie to avoid detection or to avoid you.

The Latin root of discipline means “to teach,” while the Latin root of punishment means, “to inflict pain.” When you think about punishment, it generally does not deter behavior unless the punisher is present. Punishment can teach children to avoid detection, by avoiding his or her parents.

We now know how to communicate in a way that actually teaches, rather than punishes. Children can learn best by mimicking their parents’ ability to control themselves, and parents can be models by using calm, firm and physically neutral discipline.

Please let your Chrysalis House, Inc. social worker know if you’re struggling with discipline challenges.  Resources and ideas will be supplied!