on 16 December 2007
This book aims to provide parents of children from other countries and cultures, from troubled backgrounds or on the spectrum of special needs with a toolkit to connect the child to parents. Thus the book's aim is provide parents with safe strategies for parents to promote connection with their children. Specifically written for adopted and special needs kids, the book offers advice ALL parents can access. In terms of adoptive families, the book offers post-adopters tools and prospective parents some hard things to mull over pre-adoption in terms of helping children `connect' safely to parents.
So, what is a connected child? Essentially the book`s thesis rests on the theory of behavior modification, with the key that parents can only change poor behaviours if the child trusts. Parent and child therefore must work to make the connection work. We learn that for a child to become connected, that child has to respect us as `family boss', fair in our dealing with them. Kids acting out do so because they haven't had a protective nurturing parent. Therefore, to connect and heal their behaviours our parenting must be grounded and strong.
It's a book with well developed steps to connection and nurturing. Each topic covered is matched with modules suggesting how we parents can modify our children's `skewed' responses to every day occurrences. So we are staged through dealing with tantrums in the supermarket, hurting other kids, poor choices, dealing with not wanting mum to go away (or pushing for it that she very much does go away!). The tactics are simple and sure. Poor behaviour should be seen as an opportunity to help our kids connect AND achieve better ways of responding. The strategy of allowing`re-do' of a poor choice or behaviour is prioritised, where the child gets to retry a poor choice. Eye contact and gentle connecting touch are requisites when re-directing a child's behaviour. Offering defined choices, and consequences that happen if a child doesn't play fair and do as promised, are highlighted as strong parenting. Sensible social strategies are offered. Parenting style is also covered, with parents advised to understand and deal with our own responses to challenge and stress. A parent who isn't personally grounded is not going to be the rock a challenging child requires.
There are other books that offer parents advice on re-directing poor behaviours using behavioural modification - a useful one being Transforming the Difficult Child (Glasser and Easley).The Connected Child adds to the literature both in offering up to date advice on the neurology of behaviour, plus is attractive in its pocket handbook size, its easy-read layout, and its helpful charts and bullet pointed strategies. A drawback is its assumption that behavioural modification will always work. It offers no alternative views, unlike another `toolkit book', Adoption Parenting ( MacLeod and Macrae) from EMK Press where the strength lies in many `voices' offering differing strategies to deal with issues. Nonetheless this new book is a welcome addition to an adoptive parent's bookshelf.
on 16 May 2016
This book is an unexpected gem, and likely to become my top recommendation for adoptive parents who are struggling with some aspect of their child's behaviour or emotional life. Like Daniel Hughes ('Attachment Focussed Parenting') and Amber Elliott ('Why Can't My Child Behave?'), the authors take disrupted attachment patterns as the key to understanding these children. People familiar with the 'Theraplay' approach will also find much they recognise here. Each of these approaches has its own strengths, but this book is especially good at explaining how adversity in infancy translates into chronic problems with anxiety, aggression and intimacy. And it is excellent in describing practical ways that will help children recover.
Although the kind of 'reframing' verbal explanations with the child are important, and are highlighted in Hughes and Elliott's books, what I particularly appreciate is that here there is added emphasison non-verbal reparative experiences. For example, it stresses sensitivity to sensory triggers like touch and taste, and how these senses can be used in a therapeutic way.
The authors recognise that, by the time they reach for a book like this, parents will have already exhausted many more 'obvious' behaviour modification approaches. They rightly reject 'time outs' and 'star charts' and see medication (typically for 'ADHD') as likely to be helpful only when combined with sensory, emotional, and behavioural changes.
There are weaknesses. The one most likely to cause trouble is probably the insistence on direct eye contact, which many children with attachment difficulties will find overwhelming. Similarly, the use of explicit, 'full on' praise and acceptance of fault by the child is likely to provoke avoidant or acting-out behaviour in some children unless it is sensitively applied. I would like to see more emphasis in these cases on the use of emotional reflections, helping the child to understand what is happening for them and how it might be better managed. Finally, I would like to see more emphasis on the importance of therapeutic life story work - unresolved and confused understandings of their own history is commonly a cause of many emotional difficulties in children who have been adopted or are in long term foster care.
However, overall, I think this is a good resource, filled with practical ideas and flexible and inclusive enough for the vast majority of adoptive parents.
It is reassuring to see that, despite the easy-to-read, conversational tone, the references cited are extensive, authoritative and current.
on 12 May 2012
This is an excellent resource on how to handle behavioural issues with adopted children. Only annoying bit is the parenting language of the book, which is too American and sounds like army camp training. But once you get over the "Yes Sir" "No sir" style of conversation between parents and children, it is in fact an excellent book that addresses many common problems that may arise with adopted children; it offers ways to handle these problems which are clever, empirically tested and varied. It certainly allows for an in depth understanding of the needs behind manifested challenging behaviour, thus allowing constructive coping methods for parents. Haven't been matched with a child ourselves yet, so this is all in theory. However, methods seem sensible, parents to biological children confirmed that many of these work and this was also corroborated in the preparation to adopt course. Worth a read.