Thursday, June 05, 2008
Joy School: Seven Lessons For A Happy Adopted Child
I need to say that I have received more compliments on my kids behavior, than criticisms

over the years

but I usually dismiss both

because the person is commenting about a short moment in my child's life

that is totally unreflective of anything.

However, I always accept compliments graciously as I know they are intended to be a loving act of kindness.

What really matters; however, is not what others see, but what I see.

And not whether or not my child performs well in public, but if my child is truly happy inside.

As parents of adopted children it is vital that we enroll our kids into our own version of

"Joy School".

Here are 7 Happy Child lessons (adapted from an article from American Baby Magazine):

1. Create memories that facilitate connections with all family members, extended family members and close friends. It is important that your child has happy memories with people that they can be in a long-term relationship with. Adopted kids know too much about losing people in their lives. So plan that family reunion, invite your friends over for dinner, go on a vacation, play silly games, etc. Plan play dates. Clean the house together. Show love and affection like crazy.

2. Don't give into your child's demands or whims- especially if they are irrational. It is O.K. for your child to be upset sometimes. Step back and allow your child to develop the coping skills and resilience to bounce back when things don't go his or her way. If you do everything your child wants, your child will become a demanding monster. Let your child be upset when appropriate. Also, don't shower your child with gifts he or she doesn't need. Shower on the love instead.

3. Your child will be happier if he or she sees you being happy. So put on a happy face. It is O.K. to be sad or upset sometimes, but talk about it with your child when you are. Attend to your own happiness by taking care of yourself. Take reasonable care of your appearance, keep your home clear of too much clutter, don't over schedule, do things you like to do, and nurture your relationships.

4. Don't label your child. Over the years your child will feel like he or she has to live up to the labels (or praises) that you have been giving out. If the labels are things like: pretty, smart, , athletic, artistic etc. then the child's self-esteem takes a dive when he or she can't live up to the label. Rather praise your child's efforts on specific things like a great performance, athletic play, a pretty dress, a well-done drawing, etc. Keep up the praise, but don't label the child.

5. Offer lots of opportunities to learn new skills. You don't have to enroll your child in every lesson out there however. One or two max is our rule. A lot of skills can be learned at home such as cooking, cleaning, painting, arts, crafts, reading, writing, laundry, money management, computers, etc. This ties in with not doing too much for your child. Let your young child struggle to tie their own shoes, button a button or zip up a zipper. As they get older let them bake, clean their room, or do the laundry without stepping in.

6. Give your child a responsibility. Piney would get upset every night as each one of my older boys did after-dinner jobs (sweep, clear, load dishwasher, etc.) and she didn't have a job. I finally discovered that she was overjoyed when I told her to go clean her room. Kids like to feel that what they do is important and valued. So think of responsibilities your child can do at any age.

7. Try to look on the bright side of situations. As you express gratitude this is absorbed by your child. Children love to imitate adults, so keep this in mind as your child is always watching and learning from you. It might be a good idea to start a new tradition of saying something you are grateful for around the dinner table. Having an attitude of gratitude will show your child that you are truly blessed.

Any other ideas to facilitate happiness in your child?


Blogger Michele said...
Our boys are adopted, and this is good stuff to remember. What a great blog you have.


Blogger Michele said...
I guess my additional thoughts are:

Help him/her to understand their place in the world/history as an adopted child. Help them see their lives as a metanarrative woven by God, who Himself instituted adoption in all its beauty and complexity. Our boys are adopted domestically, with letters/pics sent to both sets of birth parents (through the adoption agencies). I think this even distant connection is another reason to help our boys see the beauty and relevance of their (unfolding) lives, and that we can (through Christ) love and embrace those birthparents as vessels used by God to usher us where we are now. Oh, gosh, there's a whole BOOK I can write on that, but I hope you get the idea!

Grace (again),

Blogger nates5bs said...
Point #6 stands out to me since I have noticed that in the 3 short weeks our daughter has been home with us, she has displayed what you are saying. She wants a responsibility to call her own just like my other kids. I thought I wouldn't give her any "jobs" until she understood English better, but she's shown me differently. Lately I've snapped pictures of her helping with vacuuming, cleaning the table after dinner, etc. She wants to be a part of the family by helping like we do.


Blogger nates5bs said...
I found the link to the post I wrote about the concept on #6.


Blogger MMrussianadoption said...
i dont agree with the dont label issue. I think if it is a positive label, your childs self esteem will grow.

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