Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Connected Child Conference


The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis is the one book that is a must read when adopting a child. Any child. If you read it before you adopt it will benefit you. If you read it after you adopt, it will benefit you in a completely different way. I said to the girls I was with at the conference, that so much of what was being said is just common sense, yet we seem to continually need to be reminded of the simplest things. You see... every thing changes once a traumatized child is in your home and our human emotions just get in the way.

So here are a few points that I came away with...

1. You have to be willing to pay the cost.

Very few people are going to understand what you are dealing with. They don't understand why you need to make your world so much smaller. Why you won't come to their house for supper. Why you won't go to church. Why you won't let them hold or even touch your child. But we need to give 100% to our children who have come from hard places. They need 100% of our time to heal. They need 5X more attention then our healthily attached biological children do. It takes three years of mentoring and working and loving on a child for them to begin to mature. These children need to go back to the beginning, like learning to walk or talk after a physical trauma. Their emotional age is much younger than their actual age. We need to understand that they cannot give back what they were never given.

2. God's Love is a balance of structure and nurture.

As our's should also be to our children. Playful interaction will correct a behaviour in a traumatized child in about 12 tries. Harsh interaction will correct a behaviour in about 400 tries. Use time-in's, not time-outs (where the child is near you and can see you at all times). Bring the child close to you when discussing a behaviour. Come to an immediate resolution (a child will learn much faster when you praise or correct them within 3 seconds). Problem solve together (this gives them some control). Focus on the child's preciousness (this can be difficult when all you want to do is pull out your hair and scream!).

Action Based. Making a child re-do a negative action or re-do something negative they say.

Be direct. Be close and maintain eye contact. Plant your feet. Lower your voice. Show the child that you will not be going anywhere until the conflict is resolved.

Deep healing is relational and comes by building trust and feeling safe.

If you share the power it doesn't mean you are giving up power. You have authority by giving choices and sharing power. This seems to go against everything we were raised with. That the parent is the one in control and that the child should obey, often out of fear. This doesn't work with a traumatized child. And apparently, those from a German background have the highest rate of avoidant parenting.

Something I often say to my children is "use your words". This is something that Dr. Purvis says all the time. You also need to prove that their voice matters. Encourage them to express their feelings. When a child's needs aren't met, they lose their voice. We need to learn to excavate the "ugly" to get through to the preciousness.

Zoe is very good at expressing her feelings. We ALWAYS know what she is feeling. Lilah NEVER expresses her feelings. Silas is starting to express his feelings more and more.

3. Self Regulation.

Children will find a way to get the brain chemicals that they need without even knowing they are doing it. Examples: cutting, over eating, craving carbs, touching, chewing, etc.

Chewing gum releases serotonin. Zoe constantly asks for gum... so I have now started letting them chew gum when they ask.

Massage and loving touch releases serotonin. Touch is the most basic need ever. But for a child who has rarely been touched or has been subjected to harmful touch, it can take time. Competent holdings can build trust and build a "bridge" to the child. This would include doing activities such as colouring or playing games.

Walking releases serotonin. If you go on a walk with a child, they are more likely to open up to you and verbalize their feelings.

You can empower your child by keeping them hydrated. By feeding them every two hours (and for a child with food issues -- you feed them when they ask). Giving a protein snack before bed. Doing sensory activities every two hours. Feeding them nutrient rich foods and giving them LOTS of healthy touch, playing, laughing, hugging, etc.

Even kids without sensory issues benefit from sensory bins. They are developmentally beneficial for those who missed out on touch. I am going to do another post on Sensory Processing Disorder. This was something that struck me the hardest while at this conference.

4. Respond ALL THE TIME.

Give value to their voice and respond kindly... even when everything inside of you wants to scream.

Say, "Listen to your heart. What is it telling you?"

Say, "Are you asking? Or are you telling?" I think I have said this 100 times since coming home.

Always say sorry and admit your mistakes.

Be a repairing parent.


Marie said...

Lots of good ideas and reminders. It is mostly common sense, but so often we need those reminders...that's why Purvis' book sits on my nightstand!
Martin and I were bugging each other and pointing fingers when we read the comment about avoidant parenting. I think I won...he's the one who has more of a German background...I have more Russian! ;)
Love that first pic. Now I can see that Abby looks like you! :)

Dianne said...

It sounded like such an amazing conference.... so sad still that I missed it! At least God found a way to make sure we had childcare set up for a day I was going to be so sick...

Jessica said...

What wonderful points and reminders. Noah loves gum, and he eats very frequently. And he calls me constantly,which sometimes drives me a little batty. So, that is a good reminder,always respond. Thx Paige

the meaklims said...

Excellent post, Paige.


the meaklims said...

PS - I already told you this on Flickr, but that photo is just stunning!

The Drinkwaters said...

Excellent post! I too feel that "The Connected Child" is a book that needs to be read before, AND after coming home with kids. It is is on my IPad and I am regularly skimming through it to remind myself of what I want to be doing, instead of reacting automatically. I feel lucky that I meet with a group of mom's every month and we usually watch one of the video's available from Karen Purvis and discuss how to implement her strategies into our parenting tool kit.

I am very interested to see your post on Sensory Processing, this is something we have been working on for the last few years and have seen good progress in with regards to behavior and anxiety.

Patrick and Christina said...

Yeah for sharing what you have learned! Yes common sense and wish I had it every day. I needed those good reminders especially after today with Samuel. I think I need a healthy dose of Dr. Purvis Video's or Joyanne's book "The Connected Child" as I muddle my way with this adoption as it is so different than our first.

arnie&bekah said...

THanks for sharing this... I was sad I had to miss the conference so I'm happy to be able to hear some feedback about it. It seems to me that breastfeeding would encompass a lot of the things you mentioned!! I'm hoping that works out for us! I'll take to heart the things mentioned.

arnie&bekah said...

And that picture is stunning :)