Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Can Your Troubled Kids Make A Resolution? Goal Setting for the New Year

By John and Diane

New Year Resolutions are part of many people's traditional celebration, but are troubled kids able to make a resolution?

New Year's Eve is a great time to talk about resolutions - which are, after all, just another word for "goals."  Sitting down with your foster kids and discussing where they think they'd like to improve themselves in the new year can be a great way to begin an open conversation about where their behavior needs additional support, and what steps can be taken to do that. 

They key is to allow the child to identify their own issues and to brainstorm together on solutions that will be followed up on with counselors, teachers or with additional support within the household in the new year. 

Make this a family discussion, preparing action plans for everyone in the family; we all have things to work on, after all. 

Of course, many of our troubled kids will have difficulty sticking to their resolutions, and may fail in spite of every one's best efforts, but does that mean the discussion of goals was a waste of time?  Not really.  Even seeing others in the family work toward their goals, stick with their plans, fail, and retry, will serve as a good example for the child throughout the year.

Give your child the very best chance to meet his or her goals however. If you have a support team (counselor, social worker etc,) get them in on it and make a concrete action plan that can get your kid excited.  Break down the goal into easy to achieve steps and mark successes on a calendar.  Set milestones and celebrate reaching them.  Don't lose focus or enthusiasm.

What do you think?  What are some of the resolutions you and your family are making?  Here are some more articles on making resolutions with your kids.

Parents.com:  8 Ways to Help Kids Make New Year's Resolutions

image by:
AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by creepye

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Are You Anxious Over Your Child's Anxiousness? How to Deal

by John and Diane

We all experience anxiety at different times for different reasons and foster and adopted kids are no different. Their anxiety may be triggered by extraordinary circumstances like family visits or PTSD type flashes, or can be related to very normal triggers such as having to run a mile in gym class or visit the dentist. 

Helping to soothe the anxiety is a natural instinct, but helping a child gain more confidence and overcome their anxiety is a long term solution you should aim for.

The below article from PsychCentral.com has some terrific ideas on how to help your child cope with anxiety and overcome it. Keep in mind while reading it, however, that some of the advice may not be quite right for your child, dependent upon their specific circumstance and diagnosis, but it is a great place to start. 

Helping Your Anxious Child Become More Assertive

By Annabella Hagen, LCSW, RPT-S

Helping Your Anxious Child Become More AssertiveThe other day, I heard a grandfather talk about a phone call he received from his daughter. She told him how his elementary school-aged grandson had been teased and bullied at his local church when he wore glasses for the first time.
We often hear national news about bullying-related youth suicides. And frequently, many of my clients suffering from anxiety mention that they were bullied at some time in their middle school or high school years.
Do kids who get bullied become anxious, or are anxious kids more likely to get bullied? The truth is, it can be both. Children who are bullied experience trauma. They will develop anxiety and may need professional help to overcome that negative experience.
Some youngsters are genetically predisposed to becoming anxious. When they get bullied, not only do they have to work through their trauma, but their anxiety is triggered and they become more anxious.
What can parents do?

Be aware.

Parents need to recognize their children’s needs and fears. Consider modifying your teaching and discipline skills if your child experiences the following symptoms: long and intense temper tantrums, extraordinary stubbornness, meltdowns for no apparent reason, medically unexplained physical pains, body-focused repetitive behaviors (e.g., nail biting, skin picking, hair pulling), eating and sleeping difficulties.
If you don’t know your family mental health history, it’s a good idea to find out what type of mental health challenges your parents, grandparents, and other family members have experienced or are still experiencing. You don’t want to label your child with a diagnosis, but it’s a good idea to know what you may be dealing with, and to consult a mental health professional so they can evaluate your child and provide advice.

Adjust your parenting skills.

Sometimes children suffer from anxiety or experience other psychological challenges. Parents may not realize it until negative events occur, or their children are refusing to go to school.
We often hear parents say, “I love all my children the same.” The only problem is they also want to treat them and discipline them equally. This doesn’t work because each child has his or her own personality and disposition. What works for one may not work for the other.
Parenting books and advice abound and quite often parents get conflicting advice. For example, if you have a child who experiences anxiety, some parenting advice will simply not work. An anxious child who is sent to timeout may feel horrified sitting alone in a room.

Cultivate your children’s emotional intelligence.

When children are able to comprehend their own emotions and find positive ways to manage them, they are able to overcome stressful and challenging situations. This doesn’t happen overnight. We need to help them understand other people’s emotions. We need to model how to empathize with others. Research indicates that the ability to empathize and communicate with others can make a big difference in the quality of one’s life.
Children who experience anxiety may have difficulty understanding other people’s feelings because they are too busy trying to figure out their own. However, it is possible to help them develop empathy and manage their own emotions.
Parents can teach communication skills to their children. They can set the example by talking about their own feelings. They can teach them it’s okay to feel sad, mad, or scared.
It’s important to help children recognize their thoughts. I often meet adolescents, young adults, and even adults who have difficulty recognizing their thoughts and expressing them. Encourage your children to verbalize their thoughts and feelings, and to see how these affect their behavior.

Don’t tell them how to feel.

Quite often we say things like, “Isn’t this fun?” “Aren’t you excited about this?” What if they are not excited or having fun? You can express how you feel and ask them how they might be feeling. Ask them genuine questions to help them develop their own opinions and not to be afraid of stating them.

Build up their confidence.

Help your children recognize their strengths. Acknowledge their weaknesses and point out that everyone has weaknesses and that it’s okay. Help them understand that we learn from our mistakes. They need to understand that you love them and accept them for who they are, not for what they do and accomplish.
Children who develop confidence in themselves accept who they are, and recognize their strengths and weaknesses. Sometimes children who experience anxiety can be quick in accepting defeat and get into a helpless mode. Frequently parents will be harsh and scold them and order them “to try, or else!” This parental attitude will exacerbate their child’s anxiety. On the other hand, some parents feel guilt and are sad about their child’s fears. They tend to quickly rescue them and inadvertently reinforce their child’s sense of helplessness.
When your children experience anxiety and you push them, they will clam up and your strategy will backfire.

Read more here: 

top image:
Attribution Some rights reserved by Pink Sherbet Photography

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Are Adopted or Foster Kids More Vunerable to Stranger-Danger? New Term: "Indiscriminate Friendliness."

by John and Diane

A recent UCLA research study has found something that many of us that work with children who have been in foster care or institutionalized in infancy already know and see everyday.  Kids who are separated or neglected by their parents or primary caregivers  early in life are prone to what they are calling "indescriminate friendliness" towards strangers - and anyone really, which can continue throughout their life.

What does this mean? It means that these children, (often your kids with reactive attachment disorders) approach all adults and strangers in somewhat the same manner - with an inappropriate  willingness and outward friendliness. These changes are not simply a habit they picked up to survive in an ever changing world of adults, but actually have a foundation in physical brain-changes that occur due to social neglect.

According to the study, " The early relationship between children and their parents or primary caregivers has implications for their social interaction later in life, and we believe the amygdala is involved in this process," said Aviva Olsavsky, a resident physician in psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA and the study's first author. "Our findings suggest that even for children who have formed attachments to their adoptive parents, this early period of deprivation has led to changes in the brain that were likely adaptations and that may persist over time."
Indiscriminate friendliness is in some sense a misnomer. The behavior is not characterized by a deep friendliness but simply by a lack of reticence that most young children show toward strangers."

The study, based on MRI examinations in part, raises many additional questions, " What, if any, effects does early maternal deprivation has on children as they move into adulthood? And do these findings also apply to less severe forms of deprivation, such as neglectful home environments? The researchers are continuing to use fMRI to examine the role of parents in brain development and the contribution of early experiences to mental health outcomes later in life."

What do you think?

Read more on the study here at Science Daily

and be sure to read our post : http://fosterparentrescue.blogspot.com/2012/03/why-kids-that-hug-everyone-trust-no-one.html

AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved by Wilson X

Monday, December 2, 2013

Start Your Tax Prep Now: Adoption Tax Credits and What it Means for You

Hi Friends,
Some of you who are adoptive parents might be a bit bewildered by the changes in the Adoption Tax credit laws for the 2013.  There are new credits to check into.. and I am NOT a tax guru by any means but basically here is the change: 
"Many potential adoptive parents find that adopting a child can put a strain on family finances. But there are several available adoption tax credits and benefits that offset the expenses of adopting a child.
State and Federal Adoption Tax Credits
Adoptive families can offset their adoption costs by utilizing the Federal Adoption Tax Credit, which is non-refundable. The maximum 2012 adoption tax credit is $12,650. For 2013, the maximum adoption tax credit is $12,970, for all qualifying adoption expenses, and is non-refundable.
In January 2013, the Federal Adoption Tax Credit was made permanent. The adoption credit is not refundable, which means that only those individuals with tax liability (taxes owed) will benefit. The credit will remain flat for special needs adoptions (those involving children who are deemed hard to place by a child welfare agency), allowing those families to claim the maximum credit regardless of expenses."  (http://www.americanadoptions.com/adopt/adoption_tax_credit)

So, if you are in need of some tax information, there is a ton of it out there for those of you who fall into this category.  Here are some links that you may find helpful. 

2013 Adoption Tax Credit Info.
Adoption Benefits: IRS
Adoption Credit and Adoption Assistance Programs: IRS

Attribution Some rights reserved by Philip Taylor PT