Wednesday, December 26, 2012

The ADHD and RAD Kid Winter Break Planner


By John and Diane.

Although your kids are only off a week or so for winter break, and the holiday hustle and bustle have helped you get through (or maybe you have just survived it?) the first part, but now you have a few more high-energy days to deal with. 

With this in mind we thought we would just reiterate a few points from our The ADHD and RAD KidSummer Planner: or "Why I Didn't Lose My Mind While My Kid's were onSummer Vacation"  post to help you deal with the rest of the week off and keep your ADHD RAD and all your kids on track to go back to school.

Once you get past all the excitement of the Christmas parties and family gatherings, the remainder of the kid’s time off should be both fun and structured.  Remember, just like with the longer summer break, the key to a successful WINTER break with minimal tantrums, episodes, blow outs, running –aways, fits, fights and other miscellaneous catastrophes is sticking to a schedule

Let them have free-fun for a few days, but at least 3 or 4 days before school starts, begin to reel them in and get them back into the school –day schedule.  Start getting them up and to bed at normal school day times and add more chores and structured activities to their days.  Even if it's playtime…assigning it a time and place helps ADHD and RAD kids feel secure and safe with boundaries for their day. 

Remember, ADD/ADHD and RAD kids need structure to feel safe and control anxiety (as do all kids really,) so when you give them boundaries and schedules, you help them feel safe and reduce the source of tantrum-inducing anxiety and frustration.

So, a typical day on winter break may look like this:

7am Get up, brush teeth, and make bed
7:30 breakfast time
8-9 morning chores
9:30 -11 Playtime
11:30 Put away toys
12 Lunch
1-2 Outside walk with Mom or Dad
2-4 Play time No TV
4-5 Help Mom and Dad get ready for dinner

Etcetera, etcetera.  Get the idea? Don't forget to include doctor appointments and counseling sessions you may have scheduled during break.

Have the schedule written up and posted on the refrigerator so the kids can see it and know what to expect and when.  Just like with the other "House Rules" and "Chores list" etc.  Let the kids know the schedule can change if Mom or Dad says so… just to cover emergencies, but a basic schedule will help keep kids centered and in their school day routine.  

Good luck and enjoy your extra family time. 

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Friday, December 21, 2012

FPR Q&A Holiday Edition: How Do I Talk to My RAD Kids About Santa?


By John and Diane.

Talking to your kids about Santa is tricky but how do you deal with it when you already are dealing with children with trust disorders and to whom lying is a real setback?

 Kids with attachment disorders or RAD will most likely already be distrustful of the Santa "mythology" and may see your embracing of the story for younger children in the home as a betrayal or indicator that you are untrustworthy or a liar in all circumstances.  How do you handle this delicate situation while maintaining the Christmas spirit?  One reader asked and this is how we've handled it successfully in the past.  Read on....

Q: How do you talk to kids with trust issues about Santa Claus?

A: The Foster kids I have had in the past have come to me usually not believing in Santa already.   They have been let down so many times in the past, at Christmas time and all year round, that they have grown up past their physical age and are too cynical for the belief in things like Santa Claus.

When it comes up in my household, like, if I have younger kids in the home, I ask them not to ruin it for the younger children and ask them to help me “be Santa.”  I let them help pick out the special toys or gifts the younger kids get from Santa, wrap them and while doing so they learn about the joy of giving and being part of making that special memory for the younger kids.  I tell them “Santa Claus is alive…in all of us.” 

I might also talk about how we are working in the “spirit of Santa,” or “In the spirit of St. Nicholas” just as we work in the spirit of Jesus.  I would tell them the story of St. Nick and the history of it to help build some new memories for them about the holiday and Santa icon.

If a child approaches me and says, “Santa isn’t real is he?” I simply say, “The spirit of St. Nick exists” and let it go at that…

Here’s more information on telling kids about Santa from Science Daily:

Parents Should Let Kids' Beliefs About Santa Develop Naturally, Expert Says

Dec. 11, 2012 — When it comes to Santa Claus, a Kansas State University expert says let children believe in the jolly old elf as long as they want

ared Durtschi, an assistant professor in Kansas State University's marriage and family therapy program, says there is no particular age when a child should stop believing in Santa, and that children will often come to realize the truth gradually as they grow older.

"I don't think it's necessary for parents to decide upon a time to tell their children there is no Santa," Durtschi said. "As children develop, the magical thinking that is so common in kids, which allows them to so readily accept all the details of Santa Claus, will give way and they will soon figure it out on their own."

Durtschi said that by telling the truth about Santa before a child has figured it out on his or her own, parents might unintentionally lessen the excitement of the Christmas season for their children.

"Christmas tends to be more fun for those kids who believe in Santa compared to those who do not," he said. "It may be unnecessary to spoil the excitement for the child until they outgrow the belief."

And, here is a link to the story of St. Nick

Merry Christmas Everyone and May God Bless You All

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Talking to Your Foster and Adoptive Kids about Tragedy

 UPDATEIt is with a very heavy heart that we are re-running this blog post and links due to the Newtown Tragedy. I guess there will always be another crisis and unspeakable crime committed in this world for our children to deal with... but we continue to pray and have faith that the love you give your foster, adopted and biological children will give them the sense of security and safety they need to go out into the world each day and know they can make it better.  We pray for strength for all of us, and especially for our friends in Newton.

Hi Friends,

I just wanted to take a moment to share some resources on how to talk to your kids about tragic events in the world. If your kids have been seeing news reports about the Colorado Movie theater shooting, they may have some questions and be feeling anxiety. The fact that it happened at a movie many of our kids want to see, may make it especially "close" feeling to them, making kids with trust disorders or other traumatic pasts feel unsure, insecure and uneasy, without maybe even being able to say why.
Here are two resources that dealt with talking to your Foster or Adoptive kids about tragic events (most written around Sept. 11th.)

Be mindful if you notice increased anxiety in your RAD kids, that it may be due to seeing news accounts of this shooting event. New behaviors like bed-wetting or becoming more withdrawn are some red flags to watch for.

Try to limit their exposure to the news reports and discuss the event as suggested below. Discuss the event with your child's counselors and caseworkers as well so that they, too, may open up a discussion if need be. 

We hope you find it helpful.

Talking with Adopted Children about Tragedy

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Friday, December 14, 2012

Can TV Test A RAD Kids Attachment?

by John and Diane.

Figuring out if your RAD kid is developing an attachment to you, or to anyone can be difficult. At times it may seem like they are making friends, bonding with siblings or foster brothers and sisters and showing empathy for caregivers, at other times it seems like they could walk away from it all without a care.  It makes it hard for a foster parent to gauge whether or not any of the hard work, the unconditional love and dedication you have given is making a dent in the complex condition that is attachment disorders.

I have noticed however that there does seem to be an indicator.  I was watching a television show with a few of my foster kids once, two of which had attachment disorders. We'll call them Sue and Mark.  The show featured a theme about friendship and sacrifice, where a man had sacrificed his life for his friends, and the friends had tried to save this man, and had also perished in the effort.  It was a heartwrenching show about friendship that brought me to tears.

Mark, a pre-teen boy I had been working with for over 5 years with RAD was also moved to tears. Sue, who was also RAD, was not.

I discussed this difference in passing to my co-author Diane, who is a therapist. We discussed the fact that I wasnt sure about Mark's ability to attach and although he seemed to be attached to me, his caregiver and Father for all purposes, he also seemed to be able to walk away from me and consider being adopted by another family pretty easily.

He had recently begun making friends and joined some sports teams, and was beginning to understand what it meant to be a friend and to have friends.  We began to wonder if that is why he was able to relate to the show and was moved to tears. He was making attachments in real life and that was proven in his reaction to the shows themes.

Sue, on the other hand, had recently experienced bullying in school, continued to have difficulty making friends and her ability to trust in her therapists, counselors and caretakers was at an all time low.  Although she was doing better and was beginning to show empathy and caring towards me, her main caregiver and towards pets, her ability and understanding of friendships was not really developed. We theorized that her lack of an emotional reaction to the show was a measurement of her inability to understand the meaning of friendship on an emotional level and that it proved that she had not experienced that level of attachement as yet.

I have seen this over and over again, thinking back on it now, and I wonder if, those of  us with RAD kids, could use this somehow to get a handle on where are kids are at in their attachment development.  We all wonder from time to time if they are progressing and it can be hard to tell.  If watching what might normally bring a child of a particular age to an emotional state (Charlottes Web, for example) and you get no emotional reaction, could it be an indicator of continued lack of attachment?

What do you think? Share your thoughts with us.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

FPR Holiday Survival Guide: Foster Kids with Bio Parents: Gift Giving and Winter Break

by John and Diane. 

It is almost more complicated than the lyrics to the 12 days of Christmas.

How do you make sure that all your foster kids get an equal amount of presents?

Some foster kids have biological parents in the picture that will give them gifts, some bio parents wont. Some foster kids don’t have parents, some get a lot of gifts from organizations…how, at the end of the day, can you try to keep it all even so that none of the kids are sad and upset on Christmas morning?

I have been a foster Dad for a long time, and I think I have gone through every variable of this problem. Here are some of the things you can do ahead of time to be ready for anything.

Talk to the Foster Child’s Parents:

· Always talk to the child’s parents to see what they are planning to do for Christmas on gifts and where the child is going to wake up Christmas morning.
· Try not to make them feel uncomfortable.  Sometimes money is a problem, so if you can help I encourage you to always try to.  This helps you get along with the child’s parents, builds trust with them and should help in reuniting the child with them later, if that is the plan.
The Back Up Plan

Now let’s say you did all that, and even after you have talked to the child’s parents they didn’t come through with the gifts they said they were going to pick up. This is why I have a backup plan.

· Always keep some extra gifts hidden away just in case you have to even-up the gifts under the tree. If you don’t, thank God that everything went the way you planned and now you have Birthday presents!

Winter Break Plans
The last thing you have to remember is Winter Break plans.

Where is the child going to be after Christmas for the winter break? Remember school will be out for about 10 days to 14 are there trips you might want to go on.  Do his or her parents have trips or over-night visits planned?  

So get together and be ready to ask a lot of questions of the other parents and have answers for them about what you’re going to do.  This will go a long way towards you having a great holiday with your foster child instead of one full of chaos and last minute crisis’.

Beside the first gift God gave to man, I know, you all think I’m going to say women, right? Sorry, but the first Christmas gift given to man was Christ’s’ presences and I think that is why we say “Christmas presents” to remind us every time whose Birthday it really is.

He came in the world like a child, so remember, you never know who you may be caring for in your home as a foster child…

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Friday, December 7, 2012

FPR Holiday Guide: Introducing Your RAD Kids to Charity

There is no better time to talk about charity, sharing and giving then Christmastime and these concepts, though easy for most of us to grasp can be challenging to understand for kids with RAD and other attachment disorders. Participation in charity work is not a fix for a lack of empathy, but if the child is young enough and introduced to charity work and the people that work in these field, there is a good chance that he or she will mirror the behaviors of giving, sharing and caring about those around them, and eventually those feelings will become real.

For any child, participation in charity work is a benifit and helps build character and a sense of community.  Check out the article below for ideas on where your kids can participate.
NOTE:  You should volunteer along with your Kids with behavior issues.

Kid-Friendly Charities to Encourage Your Children to Give

Filed under: Work Life
When we started giving my 5-year-old daughter an allowance a few months back, we gave her three choices. She could take her five $1 bills and either put them into her piggy bank to save, a special jar to give away, or in her little princess purse to spend.

She mulled over those first five bills for quite a while. Then (making me both proud and a more than a little sheepish) she put $2 in the save can, $2 in her bank, and a dollar in her purse. She's continued dividing her allowance this way every week since.

Now granted, she doesn't need much spending money. But still, giving 40% of your income to charity? I think that deserves a pat on the back.

She's saved up enough money that we're now looking into ways to share it with others, and I thought I'd share what we've found with you.

  • An obvious choice for kids, giving to Toys for Tots means they get to linger in the toy aisle and feel good about giving. We told our daughter that we'd match her donation, so she was able to donate a toy at Christmas and still have money left for giving in January.
  • As a mom of daughters, this one's a personal favorite of mine. According to The Girl Effect, a woman will invest 90% of her income back into her family. They work to invest in girls of developing countries so that those girls will in turn invest in their communities.
  • Not only is donating to Kiva a great way to support small business owners in developing countries, it's also an early lesson in economics. Kids (and their parents) can lend money to entrepreneurs, then watch as business succeed and their loans are paid back.
  • Are you raising a little athlete? Hoops for Hope reaches out to children in Zimbabwe and South Africa through sports, encouraging them to work toward leadership and change.
  • Take your kids over to Kids Caring 4 Kids to meet Kendall, a teen who has raised over $700,000 in the last four years, and let the inspiration roll. Not only does Kendall raise money for kids in Africa affected by AIDS, but she's also trying to build her own "army of activists" by encouraging other kids to get involved.
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