DH and I recently started a parenting workshop for adoptive parents. It’s the first time he’s initiated anything like this, so I felt obliged to go along. The course is being offered by Pseifas, a post-adoption center that offers all kinds of evenings, workshops and training for adoptive parents. The course is billed as an Adlerian workshop for adoptive parents. I’ve heard good and bad things about Adler’s theories and how they are taught in parenting classes.
Our therapist, although she’s recommended going to lectures at Pseifas, but she wasn’t too happy that we selected the Adler course, feeling it puts too much emphasis on tough love type parenting. However, after our first three sessions, it seems that they really have tailored this for adoptive parents since the emphasis thus far has been in developing a child’s sense of belonging, part of the attachment issues most adoptive parents face.
One point that stood out for me, and a tip anyone can use, is how to not reward negative behavior. We usually reward negative behavior by spending time talking to the child and explaining why they shouldn’t do x,y or z. The rule is ignore the behavior, not the child. By ignoring the behavior, the child gets no parental benefit like private time to “talk it over”. But not ignoring the child while ignoring the behavior is a bit more challenging. The focus here should be on praising the child once the negative behavior stops.
A simple example is a whiny child. Tell the child to stop whining because you can’t understand what she’s saying when she whines. Then ignore the whining. As soon as she stops whining, praise her, “Excellent, now that I understand!”.
Granted, whining is a fairly easy one.
Mmmm, long hair!
Here I am, wasting time online when DH took both kids to the playground located across the street from our building. They are visible from our living room window. We have at least 8 other playgrounds within walking distance of our apartment, so even if we get lazy and fail to make weekend plans, we still have plenty of options in terms of taking them outside and letting them expend some of the energy that builds up in them after more than an hour or two housebound.
This is part of the beauty of living in Tel Aviv. Life here is so child friendly that you often see older elementary school children riding the bus. Children Karen’s age (5+) are usually accompanied by an adult to one of the playgrounds, but are then let free to roam anywhere that doesn’t involve crossing a street. That leaves an enterprising and adventurous little girl to explore wooded areas around the parks.
We really are fortunate to have parks that you can walk in, bike around, and take children to play. Even though we do live in a condo, with no yard of our own, we make ample use of the public park behind our building for cookouts and picnics.
This is just an intro to more photos, since that seems to be what most people who come here want to see.
Matan at a playground with sand
Now that he’s beginning to feel better, and has become acclimated to our home and immediate surroundings, Matan seems like an amazingly happy little boy. His needs at this point are pretty simple and straightforward. He needs healthy food and lots of one-on-one affection and cuddlies.
Exploring our park
I know I’ve mentioned it in previous posts, but it amazes me how much Karen and Matan seem to love each other. It seems that Karen would rather come home and play with Matan than spend time with girlfriends. She wants to show him off to adults, but gets jealous if her friends pay him too much attention. I’m not sure if she’s jealous of the attention he’s getting, or that other children are taking up his attention span when she would rather he focused only on her. She even seems to want to prove that she’s a better mother than I am. She would be thrilled to take over his feeding and changing and bathing and all the other activities she associates with caring for him.
Matan has lots of toys and books at different levels, gratis Karen. He is calmer than Karen, and I’ve been able to sit with him for up to 5 minutes with a board book. He especially likes one book with animals and fuzzy fur that he can touch. He loves rubbing his face in different textures. When we go for walks, he likes to look at the grass, trees and shrubs. But what he really enjoys is putting his whole face into a leafy bush or directly against the grass so that he can feel the textures. I took him to the playground yesterday. He liked the swings and carousel, but best of all, he loved playing with dried leaves that had accumulated on the ground. He also loves touching sand. Luckily, we have a lot of sand here.
Just in case the photos give the impression that K is the perfect little girl, allow me to shatter your illusions. Some days are more trying than others. Today pickup from pre-school meant hearing that she had hit two of her friends. As a result, no TV today. She is playing quietly in her room and singing.
She knows we are going to Ukraine to adopt a sister for her. Although she claims to be excited, she’s been regressing into babyish behavior. It’s not unexpected, and I’m trying to be patient with her, but it’s not always easy.
I doubt most of her behavior is very different from that of any other strong-willed child. Her strong determination is an asset, it is what helped her survive her first two years without anyone to love her.