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Parenting children from hard places often requires new techniques and parenting skills. In this helpful blog from Empowered to Connected, leading child development psychologist Dr. Karyn Purvis discusses time-in (as opposed to time-out) as an important strategy to help parents learn to “connect while correcting” with their children. (For helpful background on the time-in strategy, watch Using Time-In Instead of Time-Out featuring Dr. Karyn Purvis):

When using the time-in strategy it’s critical to remember that time-in is not intended to punish your child. Instead, time-in is designed to help your child calm and regulate so that he can express his needs (or wants) appropriately. Also, be sure not to jump the gun and resort to time-in when another, lower level strategy (such as playful engagement or choices) might address the behavior more effectively.

But there are times when a time-in is precisely the strategy that is called for. So here are eight keys to help you implement an effective time-in with your child:

1. Develop a plan. In fact, you will need multiple plans. You will need plans for implementing a time-in when you are at home, in public, or any other place you frequently go with your child. If you have multiple children, you will need a plan for effectively implementing a time-in when more than one child needs to be in time-in. You will also need a plan for how to keep the other children in your home occupied while you deal with a child (or children) in time-in. One family chose to have a special basket of toys that can only be played with when the parent is sitting with one of the other children in a time-in. This helped to occupy the other children while the parent finished the time-in. All of these plans will likely differ if you are the only parent present as opposed to if both parents are present – so be sure to share your plans (and agree in advance) with your spouse or others who will be helping you to implement them.

2. Determine a consistent location. Consider designating a consistent place where time-in’s will happen. The location for a time-in can literally be any place that is ideal for helping your child to calm, and it can even change as your child grows older. For example, one family had a “time-in chair” in their living room with another chair right beside it – one for the child to sit in and the other for the parent. As a child gets older the time-in location may move to a bedroom or the kitchen table. In fact, some parents will take an older child for a walk or even do a task or chore together a means to de-escalate the situation and help the child calm. Whatever the case may be, develop a consistent location, especially when using a time-in at home.

3. Stay calm. Let’s be honest – if you (the parent) are not calm, you will be of little use in helping a dysregulated, out-of-control child to calm. So it is critical that you remain calm when implementing a time-in. If a time-in is needed and you are not calm, then “calmly” lead your child to the time-in location and walk away to give yourself a brief time-out. Remember, it takes a calm parent to implement an effective time-in.

4. Keep your focus. In the face of misbehavior it’s all too easy for parents to become distracted and lose focus. Instead, remember that time-in is about helping your child calm and regulate so that together you can tackle the problems or issues that led to the need for the time-in. For example, many children are prone to become dysregulated and misbehave when they are hungry, thirsty, or have low blood sugar. In addition, providing a child in time-in with a healthy snack or something to drink can often help them calm and regulate much more quickly. At first this may seem like you are rewarding “bad behavior,” but when you stay focused on the goal and purpose of time-in these steps become yet one more way to meet your child’s needs and help her succeed. 

5. Stay with your child. The primary difference between time in and time out is that time-in is designed to teach your child that you are always there for him and that in a family the “big person” (that would be you) stays with the child to help them solve problems and repair mistakes. This doesn’t mean that you cannot walk away to calm yourself (you should), or that after you and your child have become practiced in using time-in’s you can’t sometimes walk into the next room for a moment (you can). It does mean, however, that early on in your use of this strategy you need to send the message not with your words, but with your presence, that you are sticking with your child most especially when she is struggling or even pushing you away with her behavior. It is not unusual if your child tests you on this at first. But in time your child will receive and begin to believe the message that “we are a team” and that you are committed to her. Along the way don’t lose hope. Parents often report that time-in’s that once lasted well over an hour can quickly become a time-in that lasts only a minute or two – if they will simply be persistent and implement the strategy effectively.

6. Give your child voice. It is critical that a child be given voice even when she is in time-in. But this can be tricky given that she is likely in time-in because she was out-of-control or unable to calm herself. One family navigates this tension by allowing the child to say anything she wants in time-in, as long as she says it with respect. Whoa, do what?!? Yes, that’s right. This means while in time-in the child can talk about how unfair she feels things are, or how much she does not like the decision that was made. But, she must say it with respect, meaning she may not yell, scream, or call names. In time these parents reported seeing a dramatic shift as they noticed their child was learning to express her feelings, as in “I feel sad and angry when you won’t let me…” A clear sign of progress for sure. This is no doubt a fine line to walk, but giving voice is not optional if you want a child from a hard place to learn to trust. In addition, many parents allow the child to use her words to indicate once she is calm and ready to resolve the situation. Sharing power with a child by allowing her to tell you she is ready with a simple, calm “I’m ready” can be a very effective way to help her learn to recognize that she is calm again and able to begin to move forward.

7. Finish with success. Many parents have learned to use time-in as an opportunity to help their child not only calm and regulate, but also finish with success. By incorporating a re-do after your child is calm and regulated, you can give him an opportunity to learn (through body memory) how to get it right and then praise him for doing so. For example, if the behaviors that escalated and led to the time-in started with a request from a mom to her son to turn off the TV and start his homework, the mom might want to return and replay the scenario (complete with asking her son to turn off the TV) and praise him when he gets it right. She could even offer him a “reward” this time around, as in “would you like me [mom] to stop cooking and come sit with you while you get started on your homework?” Unconventional for some, but highly effective with many children who simply do not have the brain development, relational maturity, or the practice and competence at navigating their needs in healthy ways. But remember, a re-do is only appropriate and effective once your child is calm and regulated, so don’t rush into it. 

8. It’s not over until it’s over; but when it’s over, it’s over. Remember that it’s not over until it’s over. Many families use the “3 C’s” outlined by Dr. Karyn Purvis – changed behavior, connection, and contentment – as a good measure of when it’s over. In addition, parents should place a high value on the need to repair the mistakes that were made by seeking and giving forgiveness. But keep in mind, this applies to all involved – it is not unusual that a parent might need to seek forgiveness from the child as well. If this is case, parents should lead by example and offer an unconditional apology for any mistakes they made in responding to their child. But when it’s over it’s over! Once your child is calm and you and he are re-connected, you have accomplished your goal. It’s time to move on and begin looking for new opportunities to connect with your child.

Sound too good to be true? Well, give it a try and see. There is no doubt that using a time-in effectively takes lots of practice – for both parent and child. But many parents with children of all ages and stages of development can attest to the connecting and correcting power of an effective time-in.

(Copyright 2012 Empowered To Connect)

If you would like more information about Saddleback’s resources and community for adoptive and foster parents, please email orphans@saddleback.com.

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Are you considering foster care or adoption, but aren’t sure of your next steps?

The Orphan Care Initiative is here to support you! Every month we host a monthly seminar called “Thinking About Adoption or Foster Care” designed to answer your questions and provide helpful overviews and next steps in a no-pressure environment. Learn more and register for the next class on Feb. 5th here: http://saddleback.com/events/eventdetails.aspx?id=69212

 

Watch and read (below) Amber and Dave’s story - how the journey of foster care and adoption brought two beautiful daughters to their family:

 

 The moment Amber Healy laid her eyes on her foster daughter Summer, it was love at first sight. She and her husband David had two sons and had been longing to grow their family. Amber had no idea that she would soon learn how love would transform her family in ways she never imagined.

 Amber and David’s desire for another child led her to speak with a friend who was a social worker about the idea of becoming foster parents. She liked the idea of being able to provide a safe and loving home for a child who was in need of care. Armed with the information and support provided by the Orphan Care Initiative, Amber and her husband signed up to be foster parents through the county and eagerly awaited news about when they would have a child placed with their family. When the moment they had been waiting for finally arrived, they were filled with excitement about adding another child to their family—even if it was temporary. The next day, Amber and David picked up their foster daughter, Summer. “When the social worker walked in with Summer, I remember being love struck and thinking to myself, ‘she is mine’,” Amber recalls.

 The months that followed would be a ride on an emotional rollercoaster. Most days were filled with joy as Summer began to find a secure place in the Healys’ hearts and family. They loved her as their own daughter and sister. The transition period was tough, and the couple’s small group wrapped around the family providing meals and rearranging schedules to have Bible study at the Healys’ house so that Summer would have the stability of going to sleep in her own bed at the same time every night.

 Amber understood that the emotional involvement involved with foster care is a two-sided coin. Over the months, she enjoyed being able to love, hold, and bond with Summer. However, she also learned that no matter how strong you are, the love you have for your foster child may not always be enough to prevent you from breaking down during the difficult times. She knew that deep in her heart, God was calling her to raise this child for however long was needed, and He was giving her the strength to endure the emotional difficulties she faced. The day finally came when the Healys learned that the court decided that Summer's biological parents were unable to care for her, making Summer eligible for adoption. They were filled with gratitude, relief, and joy that they could finally adopt Summer and legally make her their daughter.

 When Summer grew a little older and the Healys felt like she was ready to not be the youngest in the house, they made the decision to adopt again. This time, Amber and David explored international adoption and decided to adopt a child from Rwanda. But six months into the process, Rwanda closed it’s doors to adoption from outside of the country, and devastation set in for Amber. She compares the heartbreak, loss, and grief she experienced equal to that of a miscarriage.

 Now back at square one, Amber found herself discouraged and uncertain  in how to go forward. She laughs as she recalls the irony in having already completed the foster-adoption process once, yet having no idea how to start the adoption process from scratch. Amber was not comfortable with private adoptions. In her quiet time with God, she told Him that she didn’t want to adopt privately or adopt a young baby or infant. But God had a different plan and directed her steps onto a course she wasn’t expecting to take.

For three weeks straight, Amber stayed up nightly till 2:00 a.m. researching how to adopt. She sought advice from the Orphan Care Initiative that helped her explore all her options. One day while speaking to a Christian adoption service, she overheard a conversation between a facilitator and a woman who was expressing her desire to not be treated like an incubator or commodity and was contemplating abortion.

 Amber was overwhelmed by the depth of genuine care and love the facilitator had for the distraught woman on the other end of the phone. At that moment, she felt God calming her fears and giving her peace about adopting privately. As she stepped out in faith and bravely opened her heart to a process that had recently led to great pain, God miraculously orchestrated the private adoption of a baby within a matter of months.

 The Healy’s adopted from a 38 year-old-mother who lived in another state. The woman did not want her family at home to know she was pregnant, so she spent the last months of her pregnancy with the Healys. Amber recounts how she continued to learn the depths of what God means when He says “love never fails” by walking straight into this birthmother’s world of pain and loss. She remembers sobbing in a hotel room with the woman as she explained how she couldn’t get the money to abort her child and how she had wanted the adoptive family to be African American. In the midst of all this sadness, Amber was able to share that this was not what she had originally wanted either, but that God had a better plan than what they both wanted to choose for themselves. In the end, it was not a difficult decision for either of them, but rather an incredible gift that God had placed right in front of them. 

 In the short amount of time they spent together, the Healys grew to know and love this birth mom. Their children would hold her hand and walk and talk with her, and they even spent a day with her at the aquarium. When their daughter Ellie was born, Amber said the most difficult things she had to do were to take baby Ellie and say goodbye to the woman she had chosen to love.

Ellie was given the middle name “Love” as a symbol and reminder that this special little girl had come from a place and person full of love. The Healys will be forever grateful to Ellie’s birth mom for her heroic, loving, and giving act of selflessness that gave them the gift of their daughter.

 

If you have any additional questions about adoption or foster care, please email us at orphans@saddleback.com or call Orphan Care at 949-609-8555.

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Have you ever wondered if surrounding your adoptive or foster child with affection and compassion may not be preparing them for adulthood and the harsh realities of the “real world”? Dr. Karyn Purvis dispels this myth as part of her video series “10 Common Questions Adoptive Parents Ask.”

Building connection with your child is excellent preparation for the real world. Nuture when in balance with structure gives your child the tools and self-confidence needed to tackle the tough challenges of life in the future. Meeting the deep needs of your adoptive child, building solid relationships filled with trust and respect, and teaching loving limits allows them to develop secure attachments that are the solid basis for their future. As they mature, this basis teaches them to seek healthy relationships and apply healthy limits within their adult lives. For children from hard places, being nurturing is not permissiveness – it allows for the healing of old wounds and preparation for life.

To hear the entire series from Dr. Purvis visit http://empoweredtoconnect.org/topics/10-common-questions/ or explore more of Dr. Purvis’s resources for adoptive and foster parents at http://empoweredtoconnect.org.

If you are interested in connecting with other adoptive parents and learning more about adoption support at Saddleback Church, email orphans@saddleback.com or call 949-609-8555.

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The Children in Families First Act (CHIFF), a landmark piece of legislation that would prioritize family as a key element of U.S. foreign policy, was introduced to the House of Representatives on Wednesday by Representatives Kay Granger (R-TX) and Karen Bass (D-CA) along with 20 original co-sponsors from both parties.

CHIFF will work to coordinate government foreign assistance efforts so that emphasis and priority is placed on helping children remain, reunite with or regain a family. It will achieve this by redirecting and streamlining funds that are already spent to assist children living abroad and establishing a bureau in the Department of State to become a much-needed diplomatic hub for international child welfare. By bringing the need for effective and accountable child welfare systems to the forefront, CHIFF will also promote a holistic and preventative approach to strengthening child protections.

In addition, if passed CHIFF will strengthen the mechanisms for intercountry adoption by consolidating and placing these functions under the direction of the United States Citizen and Immigration Services (USCIS).  CHIFF also transfers the accreditation of adoption service provider accreditation from the Department of State to USCIS.

This is an important time in the life of this legislation, and your voice can make a difference! Surveys show that only 20 calls from constituents are needed for a bill to the get the attention of our elected officials – click here to find information for your Representatives, as well as a script you can use on the phone to ask them to support CHIFF: http://bit.ly/17jO0OL

You can also show your support by liking CHIFF on Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/childreninfamiliesfirst

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Right now, over 1,000 children and youth in California foster care are waiting for adoptive families – waiting for the opportunity to have someone to call mom and dad. At the same time, God has given clear commands to care for His orphan children, and California is home to over 20,000 churches.

Wait No More is an exciting one day conference, hosted by Focus on the Family, designed to help find families for children waiting in foster care by bringing together churches and church members from across the state.

Join Saddleback’s Orphan Care Initiative, Focus on the Family, California’s Health and Human Services as well as church and adoption leaders from around California on Saturday, September 14, 2013 from 10am to 2pm at the Lake Forest campus at Saddleback Church for Wait No More.

You’ll hear more about the kids who are waiting, the process of adoption from foster care and ways to support adoptive families. In addition, agency and county representatives will be on site to answer questions and help families get started. At last year’s Southern California event more than 208 families initiated the process of adoption from foster care! 

 

Learn more about the event here:

http://icareaboutorphans.org/california/

 

Registration is free! Click here to register online:

http://www.eventbrite.com/event/7610518265?ref=ebtnebregn

 

If you have questions about Wait No More, or would like to help volunteer at the event, please call the orphan care line at 949-609-8555 or email LynnY@saddleback.com.

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