Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Photo-Link: A Vital Keepsake/Tool for a RAD Child (or Any Foster Child.)

By John and Diane

With the advent of digital photography, we all take a lot more photos...but how many actually get printed?

Not so important to most of us. Really, we post our faces on social media, we email pics to relatives who save them to a hard drive or turn them into a screen saver.
Photos that document events, big and small, are vitally important to the development and foundation for a child with an attachment disorder or reactive attachment disorder (referred to both as RAD in this article from now on.)

Photos that show any of my foster kids enjoying family events, achievement awards, holidays and any Firsts are always printed out and placed in a photo album for each child I have in my home.The importance of the photo album goes beyond just a keepsake of childhood memories.  For kids who may have a childhood that is scattered over many homes, many "families" and much sadness, a photo album that they can add to,  provides a timeline of happy memories to share as they later raise their own families.

For RAD kids, I cannot stress enough how important a photo album is.  Not only for the purpose of documenting their lives as is a normal part of most modern cultures, but as a TOOL.

A RAD child's photo album is an effective tool to use because:

*  It gives you a reference to go to when you need to PROVE that you have provided certain good things to the child. (Those carrots we've talked about in the past...)  For example, the child refuses to do anything for you, or says that you do nothing for him or her.  You go to the photo album and show him photos of family parties, vacation, trips to the roller rink, he with a new toy for a holiday...etc.  RAD kids NEED constant Proof, and a photo album is a great way to REMIND them that you do things for them.

* They need to be able to view the photos (documentation, per se) of themselves and other family members having fun together and enjoying each others company.  Without evidence of happy times together, the child will forget they love you.    This is especially important for families who are separated from their RAD child for a while - maintain the connection you have begun to build via a photo album.

* Refer to the album when the child is in a "funk" to remind them that they do enjoy their family, brothers and sisters in the house etc.  They need to see concrete evidence of things, so that they can come to their own conclusions about whether or not they were happy etc.

*Observe how the child uses the album. I am so happy when I see some of my longer -term kids show off their photo albums to new foster children. Not only does it allow me to see how that child is doing in my home, but if the child does have RAD, I can get a sense of their building attachment, or lack there-of. (Do they show any interest in the album, are they connected to the images there? )

It really doesn't take much to put an album together. It doesn't have to be fancy, and it can start today. The kids love putting new photos in their albums, adding stickers, or writing in them. I am sure many of you have a lot of other great ideas along these lines.  Please share them here in the comments section.

(suggested reading:
You and Your RAD Kid: The Importance of the Trust-Building- Honeymoon Period )

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Friday, January 10, 2014

Is Moderation the Key - Even with Praise for Kids Who Need It?

When working with hurt or traumatized kids it's easy to fall into the habit of trying to re build their self esteem by heaping on the praise every chance you get.   Recent studies show that for kids with low self-esteem, the Over-the Top praise you might think is helping, is actually backfiring on you!

According to the study done at Ohio State, inflated praise put too much pressure on kids with low self-esteem, and therefore translated into the children being afraid to fail at subsequent efforts. 

How does this effect you? Well, It means that when working with your kids with low self-esteem, keep your praise positive, encouraging, and realistic.

Check out the article below to learn more about the study:  from Psych Central

Inflated Praise Can Harm Kids With Low Self-Esteem

By Associate News Editor
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on January 4, 2014 
New research suggests that parents and adults who heap the highest praise on children with low self-esteem are most likely hurting the children with their over-the-top compliments.
Researchers found that while children with high self-esteem seem to thrive with inflated praise, those with low self-esteem actually shrink from new challenges when adults go overboard on praising them.
“Inflated praise can backfire with those kids who seem to need it the most — kids with low self-esteem,” said Eddie Brummelman, lead author of the study and a visiting scholar at The Ohio State University in autumn 2013 and now a doctoral student in psychology at Utrecht University in The Netherlands.
For this study, scientists identified inflated praise as those including an adverb (such as “incredibly”) or adjective (such as “perfect”) signaling a very positive evaluation. For example, “you’re good at this” was simple praise, while “you’re incredibly good at this” was considered inflated praise, the researchers explained.
In one of three related studies, Brummelman and his colleagues found that adults gave twice as much inflated praise to children identified as having low self-esteem compared to those children with high self-esteem.
In another study, 114 parents (88 percent mothers) participated with their child. Several days before the experiment, children completed a measure to determine their level of self-esteem.
Then, during an observation at their homes, the parents administered 12 timed math exercises to their child. Afterwards, the parents scored how well their child did on the tests. The sessions were videotaped, and the researchers were not in the room.
Watching the videotape, the researchers counted how many times the parent praised their child, and classified praise as inflated or non-inflated. The most common inflated praise statements included “You answered very fast!” and “Super good!” and “Fantastic!”
The most common non-inflated praise statements included “You’re good at this!” and “Well done!”
Results showed that parents praised their children about six times during the session, and about 25 percent of the praise was inflated, the researchers reported.
The parents gave more inflated praise to children with low self-esteem than they did to children with high self-esteem, the researchers added.
“Parents seemed to think that the children with low self-esteem needed to get extra praise to make them feel better,” said Brad Bushman, Ph.D., co-author of the study and professor of communication and psychology at Ohio State.
“It’s understandable why adults would do that, but we found in another experiment that this inflated praise can backfire in these children.”
In this other experiment, 240 children drew a famous van Gogh painting, “Wild Roses,” and then received inflated, non-inflated or no praise in the form of a note from someone identified as a “professional painter.”
After receiving the note, the children were told they were going to draw other pictures, but they could choose which ones they would copy. They were told they could choose pictures that were easy to do, “but you won’t learn much.” Or they could choose to draw more difficult pictures in which “you might make many mistakes, but you’ll definitely learn a lot too.”
According to the researchers, children with low self-esteem were more likely to choose the easier pictures if they received inflated praise. By contrast, children with high self-esteem were more likely to choose the more difficult pictures if they received inflated praise.
These results suggest that inflated praise may put too much pressure on those with low self-esteem, Brummelman said.
“If you tell a child with low self-esteem that they did incredibly well, they may think they always need to do incredibly well,” he said. “They may worry about meeting those high standards and decide not to take on any new challenges.”
The lesson may be that parents and adults need to fight the urge to give inflated praise to children with low self-esteem, Bushman said.
“It goes against what many people may believe would be most helpful,” Bushman said. “But it really isn’t helpful to give inflated praise to children who already feel bad about themselves.”
The study was published in the journal Psychological Science.
Source: The Ohio State University

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