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Posted by Ambree Meek

Many walk into an orphanage expecting to find rambunctious and lively children. However, they are surprised to find something quite opposite. The quiet and still environment causes many to exclaim, “These children are so well behaved!”

Unfortunately, what we deem as “well behaved” can actually be a result of severe neglect. When a child is born, they quickly and instinctively discover an attachment pattern with parents. When a need arises, the child feels the need and expresses the need, crying for mom or dad comes to help. In a healthy attachment cycle, mom or dad meet the need when the need is expressed – whether that need is feeding, changing a diaper, giving a hug, etc. For many children growing up in orphanages, however, this healthy cycle did not occur. Needs were not met. When the child cried mom and dad or a caretaker did not always come.  Crying ceases because “a child without a voice quickly learns he will be ‘on his own’ in getting his needs met. Survival skills emerge in the absence of nurturing care that will later put him on a developmental trajectory of harm. Without a voice, this child will learn not to trust others to care for him” (Adoption).

According to studies performed at Harvard University, “children who experience severe deprivation typically need therapeutic intervention and highly supportive care to mitigate the adverse effects [of trauma] and facilitate recovery” (Neglect). This is why TBRI, or Trust-Based Relational Intervention, is such powerful knowledge for those caring for foster or adopted children. This form of attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention encourages parents to use a balance of nurture and structure with their child in order to repair the losses their child has endured – including the loss of their voice. Children from hard places were taught by their environment early on that their voice has no power to get their needs met. In order to disarm fear and survival strategies, parents teach children three important truths:  You are safe, you are precious, you are heard.

You’ve heard the phrase many times, communication is key. Often a child will misbehave and it is our responsibility to ask ourselves, what is the need behind this behavior? Giving children a voice helps them to convey their needs without acting out and resorting to behavior to communicate. A healthy parent-child relationship has secure attachment and attunement to a child’s emotional and developmental needs. Repetition in completing the Attachment Cycle helps to rewire the brain with trust.

 

To learn more about how to promote connection with your child, check out The Connection, a 13 week small group study to equip families with practical skills, or join us at our next Connection Seminar: http://orphancareinitiative.com/event/.

 

Sources: 

https://www.adoptioncouncil.org/publications/2013/07/adoption-advocate-no-61

http://developingchild.harvard.edu/science/deep-dives/neglect/



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