Saddleback Events

Stay Connected

What's Happening Rss


This article is adapted from this post by Debra Jones from Parenting Help for Adoptive and Foster Parents.

What’s the need beneath the behavior?

I’m constantly approached by parents who want to toss out a behavior problem and have me come up with the best answer as to how the parent should deal with that particular behavior. They are asking, “How do you fix __________? Fill in with anything ranging from “My child won’t get dressed for school” to “My teen is using dangerous drugs and hanging out with unsafe kids.”

I wish it were that easy.

Parents come to me specifically for trust-based parenting strategies since I coach and train in Trust-Based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®). They are trying to give up their old ways, but can’t see that they are really still using their old strategies and belief systems with a trust-based sprinkle on top. They will even say for said problem, “What’s the TBRI answer for handling this behavior?”

TBRI answers aren’t typically just a step one, two, three answer. TBRI is much more about building a connecting relationship and establishing an emotionally safe relationship in which the child or teen will come to you with her needs and lay down her maladaptive behavioral strategies – the survival strategies that kept her alive before she was yours. It is about showing the child that you have a voice with me, and I will listen to what you need. I will try to understand what you feel. I will help you solve this problem. And if you don’t have the skill set to succeed, I will spend the time it takes with you to build this skill set. And for kids from hard places that can mean a LOT of our time.

I’m not going to come down hard on my child when he is dysregulated or even when he’s making bad choices. I’m going to recognize as the safe adult in his life that his brain is hard-wired to respond with fight, flight, or freeze responses. I’m very deliberate about watching my own tone of voice, my own body language, even my own belief systems that might indicate to my child that he is going to be judged, punished, or shamed by me. I’m going to approach a behavior problem like there is a mystery to be solved.

Why is getting dressed in the morning so hard for my child?

•                Does he dread or fear school?

•                Does he feel like he’s in trouble with his teacher?

•                Do kids make fun of him or is he being left out at recess?

•                Is the school environment a sensory overload for him?

•                Is he not getting enough sleep?

•                Is his blood sugar low because he hasn’t had protein yet?

•                Does he feel like a nerd in the clothes I’ve bought for him?

•                Is his sensory system so sensitive the tags in his shirts are uncomfortable for him?

•                Is his neurochemistry imbalanced and cortisol is too low in the morning?

•                Or is he stressed and cortisol is too high?

•                Has he not had enough calming sensory input to be successful?

•                Am I giving more instructions at one time than he can process?

•                Am I rushed and rushing him?

•                Does he power struggle with me because he doesn’t know how to use his words?

•                Is he developmentally ready to dress himself without frustration?

 

And with the teen that is choosing unsafe friends and using drugs it’s even harder to solve the need beneath the behavior.

•                Does she feel she doesn’t fit in with our family?

•                Does she truly understand the dangers involved?

•                Does she feel valued and loved?

•                Is she rebelling against authoritarian parenting?

•                Is she lonely?

•                Is her neurochemical imbalance so severe she is self-medicating?

•                Is she bored?

•                Does she need something exciting and thrilling in her life?

•                Does she have the skill set to build healthy relationships?

•                Is she having an identity crisis?

•                Is she failing or struggling at school and this is a way to fit in?

•                Does she have feelings she has buried and doesn’t feel safe to come to me?

•                Does she feel she’ll never measure up to my expectations?

•                Does she compare herself to my biological children and feel not good enough?

•                Does she know how to express her fears and feelings?

•                Have I spent time matching her and engaging in her interests?

•                Do I make myself emotionally available to her?

•                Does she feel seen, heard, and understood?

 

As parents we want behavior to stop and sometimes we get rigid about find THE ANSWER that will make it stop. Unfortunately there have been many parenting models that seem to indicate that if the child does _________, you do _________ and the problem will go away. Simple as that! Not so simple with a child from a background of early harm.

There is much work to be done. There is much repair and much building from scratch in our relationships with them if they are going to feel safe, become secure, and develop the skills to have healthy relationships and make wise choices.

Behavior communicates. It communicates needs, fears, pain, losses, and wants. It communicates skills that my child has and skills that are lacking. What is your child communicating to you? Will you stop your world long enough to deeply look at your child’s desperate need?

For more in depth trust based parenting insights for your family, check out our 13 week DVD small group curriculum The Connection by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Elizabeth Styffe.

Also be sure to check out the Empowered to Connect Conference coming to Orange County Feb. 13 & 14th. Use the code FOCUSGUEST for half off registration!

Categories:

Are you an adoptive or foster family looking for parenting insight? Join us for a special two-day event designed to offer tools and help specifically for you!

The Empowered to Connect Conference on Febraury 13 & 14 at Calvery Chapel Costa Mesa is designed for foster and adoptive families, ministry leaders and professionals who want to deepen their understanding of how to connect with at-risk youth and children from hard places. 

Using trust-based parenting and proven techniques developed by Dr. Karyn Purvis, the conference will equip, empower and encourage you with tips, tools, and knowledge.

Early bird registration ends Friday – so sign up soon at showhope.org/connect! And be sure to use code FOCUSGUEST for 50% off!  


Categories:

Humans are built with a natural longing for interaction. A couple shares about their individual days at work, a teenage girl cries about a breakup as her friend comforts her, and a group of men share about their recent shots in a golf game. In the same way, children are in dire need of response from the moment they are born. But what happens when this need is not met? What occurs in the brain when expression is met with empty stares and immobile response? Although it is easy to overlook the problem of neglect, it is important to be aware of the gravity of children who are not receiving sufficient attention, because the foundation of healthy societies is built upon the proper development of interaction between children and caregivers. In  recent research from Harvard University’s Center on the Developing Child, psychologists study the cause and effects of this issue.

The problem of severe neglect is associated with abnormalities in the structure and functioning of the developing brain. This can start as early as infancy. During the first stages of childhood, there is a refining of the brain’s neural circuits that are being formed. While in this stage of life, the process of “serve and return” is essential. This is the concept that children naturally interact through facial expressions, cooing, and gestures, then the caretaker responds with similar expressions and gestures. If a caretaker fails to respond, the formation of the child’s brain may be interrupted, which can cause future damage in learning, conduct, and health.

Even more disheartening is the growing population of children inhabiting institutional settings. These often crowded children’s homes foster a sort of “assembly-line” system of caretaking. Children are looked after by shifts of caregivers, never being able to establish reliable connections, and only participating in minimal serve and return interaction. Even though they may be receiving sufficient basic living needs (such as food, shelter, and health care), they are robbed of the basic psychosocial communication that encourages healthy brain stimulation.

In tests of electrical activity in the brain, children from institutional homes, along with those with histories of neglect, show a lack of ability to react properly to stimulation, such as recognizing different facial emotions. Not only is the area of the brain that identifies emotion stunted, but the prefrontal cortex, which regulates roles such as planning, observation, problem solving, and behavior, has been noted to function on a lower level than those without a history of neglect.

Furthermore, the systems in a person that assist in handling stress and anxiety may be severely damaged as well. For example, in a typical healthy child, the stress hormone, cortisol, shows high levels of activation in the morning, acting as a boost for the body to function during the day. As night approaches, it gradually decreases. But in neglected or institutionalized children, this hormone displays low levels in the morning and continues a flat pattern throughout the day. In the long run, this lack of cortisol regulation has been seen to permanently damage the construction of the brain, causing hearth rhythm inconsistencies, depression, and anxiety.

So how can this problem be alleviated? Ultimately, a nurturing family system where relational connection can happen is imperative. Every child’s recovery depends upon the severity of the negligence and timing of rescue. The immediate shift of moving a child from a negligent home to an encouraging one is important, but the process of healing requires long-term and consistent relational support. Even after being removed from an unhealthy situation, a child is still prone to lack of recovery if they are not surrounded by relationships where they can build attachment.

The Orphan Care Initiative seeks to help every child remain in family, reunite with family or regain a family of their own, by equipping the local church to act as a key support. In Rwanda, we are mobilizing churches to get children out of orphanages and into families, as the country works towards the goal of zero children living in orphanages.

Read some of the incredible stories of how  children in Rwanda are leaving the orphanages for families of their own. Learn how you can sponsor a family in Rwanda to have the extra boost needed to adopt a child out of the orphanage  here.

Categories:

This fall, brush up on new relational skills and grow healthier connections with your children and loved ones with one of our series of classes and support groups designed just for you! Whether you are an adoptive or foster parent, a relative caregiver, or just someone looking to learn skills to work with children who come from hard places, there’s a place for you to learn in this community:

 

Caring for Children Impacted by Trauma and Grief

Are you a parent, teacher, childcare worker, mentor, or just have a passion for helping children? Join us for this cutting edge 7 week/14 hour workshop on how to recognize the signs of grief and trauma in children and how to intervene to get them back on the path of healing and connection.

Wednesday nights from 6:30pm-8:30pm

Class dates:

Sept. 24, Oct. 1, Oct. 15, Oct. 22, Oct. 29, Nov. 12, Nov. 19

Register here: http://saddleback.com/event/13169657801/Caring-for-Children-Impacted-by-Trauma

 

Trauma Informed Parenting Classes

This 7 week training, perfect for relative caregivers as well as foster and adoptive families, will help you and your family understand the effects of trauma on your child. Learn to understand your child’s experience with attachment and acquire practical techniques for promoting trust and creating a safe environment for your child. Join a community of families as we come together to be equipped with skills to create a tighter bond with your child and a healthier relationship.

Wednesday nights from 6:30pm-8:30pm

Class dates: Sept. 24, Oct. 1, Oct. 15, Oct. 22, Oct. 29, Nov. 12, Nov. 19

Portable room 301/303 Saddleback Church Lake Forest Campus

Register here: http://saddleback.com/event/13192012665/Trauma-Informed-Parenting-Classes

 

Adoption & Foster Care Support Group

Join other adoptive and foster parents for 13 weeks of support and encouragement as we learn how to better relate to our children.

The Connection: Where Hearts Meet is an interactive small group study designed to help you and your child build lasting, loving connection. You will be encouraged and equipped with practical help based on Biblical truths and research-based interventions specifically developed for adoptive or foster care families.

The support group meets Tuesdays from 11am to 1pm.

Support Group will meet on the following Tuesdays: Sept. 30, Oct. 14, Oct. 21, Oct. 28, Nov. 11, Nov. 18, Nov. 25, Dec. 2, Dec. 16, Jan. 6, Jan. 13, Jan. 27, Feb. 3

Location: Upstairs classroom of the Refinery building on the Lake Forest campus of Saddleback Church.

Register: http://saddleback.com/event/13173240517/Adoption-Foster-Care-Support-Group

 

Questions? Email us at orphans@saddleback.com or call the Orphan Care Initiative at 949-609-8555.

Categories:

This blog has been adapted from a post on Dr. Karyn Purvis’ site Empowered to Connect. For more helpful trust-based parenting tips, visit their resources page. To order The Connection, a 13 week small group study for adoptive and foster parents written by Dr. Karyn Purvis and Elizabeth Styffeclick here.

 


When people hear our kids ask, “May I have a compromise?” they tend to look at us a bit funny. They seem completely confused when we respond to our kids as if their request for a compromise is normal. But at our house it is normal. In fact, it’s a request we hear no less than a dozen times each day.

We began teaching our kids to ask for compromises when our now five-year old daughter was only two. We figured that she was old enough to have a conversation with us, so she was old enough to begin learning how to compromise.

One thing we’ve noticed over the years among kids who are adopted or in foster care is that they tend to have control issues — sometimes really BIG control issues. Many kids (and parents) struggle with control issues, but this especially true for adopted and foster kids that come from homes or situations where most, if not all, of their world was out of control.  Sometimes these kids had to raise younger siblings, or had to fend for themselves to find their next meal. Sometimes these kids had to use control and manipulation to stay safe, both physically and emotionally.  And some of these kids resorted to control as an attempt to mask their lack of trust and feed their desire to avoid being hurt, neglected, or abandoned ever again. Control is often an “all or nothing” proposition for these kids, and when they come to our homes they aren’t willing to easily give up the control they’ve worked so hard to get.

In our home we’ve decided we are going to help our kids deal with their control issues not by taking control away from them, but by sharing control with them. Share control with our kids?  Sounds crazy. After all, we are the parents so we need to show our kids that we are in control, right? The thinking goes that they need to respect our authority or everything will devolve into chaos. We followed this way of thinking for a while, but showing our kids that we were in control was NOT working. As we tried to suddenly take all the control away from them what we got in return were power struggles and the very chaos we were trying to avoid. What worked, however, was a very simple solution…compromise.

The insight that helped us grasp this approach was actually something that Dr. Karyn Purvis said – “If you as a parent share power with your children, you have proven that it’s your power to share.”  This helped me understand that I get to decide when and how much power to share when I offer my kids a compromise.  And offering compromises doesn’t mean that I lose control or give my kids all of the control.  It means that I teach them how to share power and control appropriately and by doing so, I teach them an essential skill for healthy relationships.

 

Here’s how a compromise works at our house:

 

Me: Son, please go clean your room.

Son: (who is playing a videogame) Sure mom. May I have a compromise?

Me: What’s your compromise?

Son: May I finish this level on my game and then go do it?

 

Since that is an acceptable middle ground I will typically say sure and let him finish the level before going to clean his room. Of course this is an ideal conversation. Often times it goes more like this:

 

Me: Son, please go get your room cleaned up.?

Son: (who is playing a video game) Ugh!! Can’t I just finish this level first?

Me: Whoa! I don’t like that tone. Are you asking for a compromise??

Son: Yes.?Me: I’m listening.?

Son: May I have a compromise?

Me: What’s your compromise?

Son: May I finish this level on my game and then go do it?

Me: Sure! That’s a good job asking for a compromise!

 

Learning compromises takes practice for both kids and parents.  As they learn this skill, it’s important to praise your kids when they ask for a compromise correctly (even if you have to prompt them). Still the risk remains that your child might not hold up his end of the deal.  So, as you start using compromises it’s important to remind your kids that if they don’t hold up their end of the compromise, then you won’t be able to offer as many compromises in the future.  Contrary to what I thought would happen, my kids have always held up their end of the compromise.  As a result, we have had far fewer control battles.

By using compromises our kids have learned that they have a voice. They know that I can’t always give them or agree to a compromise, but they also know that I will as often as I can.  And the funny thing is that they now are able to accept ‘no’ much better than in the past.

Remember – compromising is NOT about allowing our kids to argue or debate with us, nor is it about losing our control or giving them all of the control. It is about sharing power – our power.  Compromises give our kids a voice and allow them to RESPECTFULLY ask for what they want and need.  And compromises give us as parents the opportunity to teach our kids an important way of relating that builds trust and connection.

Categories: