Tag Archives: children

Depression in children

Today Rebecca, mum of 2 girls, asks about your experiences of depression within children.

I’m worried about my youngest girl who is 6. She takes a bit of a beating verbally from her elder sister who constantly knocks her and the things she does. At 9, I think she’s going through a developmental stage of competitiveness; at least her classmates seem similar.

Unfortunately I think my youngest is also going through a typical developmental stage of becoming aware of what those around her think of her. And this is really affecting her self-esteem and self-confidence. She has none at all.

Amplified by oldest’s constant calls of “You’re silly”, “That’s not how you do it” and “No, do it A Problem SharedTHIS way”, youngest’s feelings of self-worth have disappeared and she now feels unable to do anything for fear of getting it wrong, or not meeting other’s expectations.

At home we model ‘failure’ and overcoming it. We talk about how well they both combat challenges. But still, youngest always seems so blue and my gut instinct is that she’s depressed.

Does anyone have experience of depression within children? I’ve spoken to the school liaison officer but not sure where else to turn other than the GP….he’s next on my list.

Mindfulness for Kids 1 – Book Review

Today one mum reviews a book of meditations for children.

I have been practicing mindfulness and meditation myself for a while now. It suddenly occurred to me that this practice might be useful to my hyper vigilant, very bouncy 12 year old. I therefore set about doing a internet search to find a book which would help me teach my son how to meditate and be more mindful with the hope of increasing inner calm and grounding him more.

My searches lead me to this book, Mindfulness for Kids 1 by Dr Nicola Kluge. It contains seven meditations to do with children, each themed and for each theme there are a number of additional activities you could carry out.mindfulness

It’s not a long book at only forty pages but the price of £2.90 ON Amazon, seemed very reasonable.

I decided to start at the beginning, with the first meditation, Water Lily –Gentle Relaxation. I decided to include some of the additional activities to do with my son before the actual meditation.

Using pictures of water lilies and lily ponds I printed off the internet, we discussed various aspects of the pictures. The book includes questions for you to ask like “What does a water lily need to grow?”

We used the questions but I found others to ask based on how I conversation went. It was an enjoyable thing to do with my son and felt like we were spending some quality time together.

We found words to describe the flowers and the ponds and then used a thesaurus to find other alternative words as well.

At the end my son lay on the sofa and I read the meditation script. He was calm and peaceful throughout and seemed very relaxed. He said afterwards that it made him feel really good and he liked the experience.

We have since done a couple of the other meditations but not any of the other activities.  All the meditations have really positive and helpful themes, for example “Power Shield – Loving Kindness Practice” and “Treasure Island – Discovering Inner Gifts”. All the practices are for children aged between 5 or 6 and up to 12. My son is already 12 and I could see him still being happy with them for a little while longer.

I think for what I paid for this book it exceptionally good value for money and I know we will get good use out of it.

Book review: Who We Are and Why We Are Special

41f9T8JRdQL._SX350_BO1,204,203,200_When I first received ‘Who We Are and Why We Are Special, The Adoption Club Workbook on Identity’ by Regina M Kupecky, I was initially sceptical, says adoptive mum Kay.

Why? Well, most of the books I have read about and around adoption have been weighty, literally, or anecdotal.

So my expectation was that this book would be the same.

Identity and adoption? This is a big and knotty question!

Surely this demands a book the size of an encyclopaedia or a series of books?

This book appears slim and plain. The typeset reminds me of 70’s pamphlets and the illustrations are so simple I think I could have done them myself. Added to this is the subtitle: ‘workbook’.

Yikes.

Suffice to say I wasn’t looking forward to reading it, despite feeling very excited to review a book for The Adoption Social.

Guess what though? In this case you really can’t judge a book from its cover…

Like I said the title invites us to consider identity and how this makes us different and special. That’s a big ask for an adult, but this workbook is aimed at the ages 5-11. My next reservation is how on earth one book can hope to address and engage such a wide age range.

On the first few pages we’re introduced to the members of the ‘adoption club’ whose characters are drawn, both literally and figuratively, in a simple way. There’s no embellishment here just simple sketches that help to highlight them as different and special, but what holds all of them together is that they are touched by adoption in some way.

It’s an apt reminder that adoption has so many faces, ages and back stories. Being a heterosexual, married, white, middle class adoptive mum of two young white siblings, I have been known to forget that not everyone shares my experience of adoption and that my route is only one of many. So it was useful to think again about how inclusive adoption can be.  Mixed race families, single parents, and same sex parents, children with special needs or disability, overseas adoptions, transgender parents, open adoptions… Steve Jobs, who started Apple, is adopted. I didn’t know that, did you?

The best thing about the book is that none of it reads like tokenism, just a really nice personification of these different sides of the process. Like much of the writing in this book, it is matter of fact, easy to read and understand. So as much as it’s aimed at 5 – 11 year olds I didn’t find it patronising. Actually quite the opposite, after reading this book I came away inspired to use it with my children and, surprisingly, myself.

The idea is that identity can be seen as a jigsaw of many pieces and the book leads us through a series of open questions, examples of how this affects a particular member of the adoption club, with space to write our answers and ideas for reflection.

The questions and examples are leading but not prescriptive, there is plenty of space for the reader to engage at their preferred or most appropriate depth. For me, I wanted to think about the layers to my story/identity, like a complex 1000 piece puzzle of an intricate landscape. My four year old daughter was able to recognise and relate to two of the characters and their experiences. Most importantly, I think that when we re-visit the adoption club she will continue to add to her own jigsaw.

I loved the physical metaphor of an ‘identity jigsaw’. I’d love to do some work around this using big puzzle pieces, images, maybe even an outline of a child’s body to fill in.

I would really like to read the other workbooks as I think that they will help me to open discussions with my children in the future. I like the characters but most of all I like the idea of adoption being a club that we all belong to.

Many thanks to Kay for her review. Kay did not receive payment for this review, but has been able to keep the book.

Are all adopted children destructive?

Today’s problem shared comes from a prospective adoptive parent looking for some help on expectations and risks of adoption…

I have just finished the assessment process and am due to go to panel next month. I am well A Problem Sharedadread on attachment issues and how adopted children need a different style of parenting. I know people who have adopted and have adopted members in my own family.

I came to adoption because I have always thought that it would be selfish to have biological children when there are so many children in care, waiting for a family. Conscious that I could meet Mr Right and he could want his own, or may not want any kids I waited until I hit 40, but he never showed up. I have never had any particular drive to desperately want children, rather that I have a nurturing personality and have room in my house and my life and I think I would do a pretty good job as a parent, albeit as a single Mum.

So here I am, living my nice little life, with my content little existence in the country with my dog and hens and job, knowing that adopting a child will turn it all upside-down but that it will be well worth it. I have been on the adoption training course and follow up workshops and theraplay courses etc etc. and have had more than a dozen visits from the social worker who has just completed my PAR… when I read Sally Donovan’s Unofficial Guide to Adoptive Parenting.  Now, I know there will be ups and downs, but I know I would not be able to cope with that level of violence and undesirable behaviour. I then looked up blogs online and they all seem to also give me the jitters with more examples of destruction and violence.

What I need to know is to what extent this is to be expected of any and all children coming from care. Or, are these examples not typical, but representative of the worst case scenario. Certainly the few people I know that have adopted have not had to endure the destructiveness or the sort of physical and verbal abuse from their children that I have read about. Maybe they are not typical?

I have already discussed matching considerations with the SW and made it clear that I would not be the right parent for a child with a high level of additional need. I expect to have to put away all precious and breakable things in the early stages… what I haven’t been prepared for is that I may not see my precious things again until after the child has left home! And I really could not live in a family where I feared the child may harm themselves, others or the dog.

Some of you will be thinking that I don’t sound like I have got what it takes, others may be thinking that I just need to be clear when it comes to matching, but I need to know which of those is the truth… I want to adopt in order to give a child a happy family life, and would prefer not to venture into it at all if there is a real risk I could let that child down by not being up to the job.

I know that early trauma is not something that I can magically fix in the first few months, but am I being too naïve in thinking that adopting a child isn’t going to be as hard and potentially devastating as some accounts describe. In my head I am wondering if all the professionals I have spoken to have taken as read that I know that this is the reality of children looking for an adoptive family, while my friends are saying that I am reading worst case scenarios and that I am worrying about something that is very unlikely. You guys are the only ones who can tell me….

Book review: Keeping The Little Blighters Busy

This week I’m sharing a review of a book that is simply about occupying the children – not adoption related, but I hope it’ll be helpful never the less. (Oh, but you’ll notice that the author is an adoptive mum, which I didn’t know til I re-read the introduction for this review!).

It’s no secret that I like to have lots of activities to hand for the holidays. I use Pinterest (a LOT), I’ve used the great book How to get your children offline, outdoors and connecting with nature  and I have so many craft materials, Hobbycraft would be jealous.
So when my mother in law showed me a few suggestions of books that were along similar lines as How to get your children offline, I was keen to check them out.

CYMERA_20140804_210229Claire Potter’s Keeping The Little Blighters Busy is a wonderfully refreshing and original book of 50 things to do with your kids (before they’re 12 3/4). As much as Pinterest is fab, the pins are often the same project that’s been shared and reshared, with different interpretations of the original idea. This book is completely different, with new ideas, not variations on older projects.

The humorous title drew me in, as did the lovely Quentin Blake style illustrations. And the activities within don’t disappoint.

The book is separated into 10 categories – from Food Dudes to Chinwaggers, Hidden Treasure to Spicing up Everyday Life. And then the activities within include Jam Tart tray dinner, Ice-cubes in the bath, The wall of foam, The Unscary Scarecrow, Lickety Wallpaper, The straight line walk, An ‘unsensible’ pair of shoes and Lucky dip cooking. Each activity gives a rough age range that it would be suitable for, the whole book is aimed at approx. 3-13 year olds.

A few immediately caught my eye…
It’s Gone All Mouldy is a fungus farm project that I know Mini will love. Putting food in jars then purposely letting them go off!
The Witch’s Larder will suit my two down to the ground. Clearing out my larder is a boring (for them) job that takes me away from doing fun stuff with them – but how about getting them to rename the pots and tins that you put back into the cupboard? Mini’s already re-named the honey as ‘Bee Sick’, so I know he’ll be up for this.
Shruken Heads is in the festive section as a Hallowe’en activity, but I’m pretty sure we could do this any time of the year – turning apples into spooky hangings.

I found all the instructions to be clear and concise, with a bit of humour and mischief along the way. And in many of the activities the tips and twists are as good as the activity itself. There’s no gender stereo-typing. Even the husband agreed that he’d be able to enjoy some of these with the children…high praise indeed.

So, a great book to have to hand, helping you avoid the overcrowded soft play centre, or jostling for a good spot on the beach. Each activity is inexpensive, tried out on real children, and turns everyday routines and jobs into mini adventures. At £5.99 I think it’s a real steal too.

Today’s review was written by Vicki from The Boy’s Behaviour, the book was paid for in full by her, and this review is her honest opinion. 

Emmet – the judgemental lego-man

It’s the Summer holidays and I’m dreading it.
How on earth will I keep my bouncy, full-of-energy children occupied? How will I prevent the arguments? It’s hard enough handling meltdowns in the few hours before and after school, how on earth can I manage them all day long??

Hang on, didn’t you want kids?

emmett 1What? Huh? Who was that? Oh, my inner voice speaking again. That judgemental little lego-man (I don’t know…but go with it) that sits inside my head reminding me that I wanted this. I asked for this. I worked bloody hard to have my family, and now I’m moaning about it. What kind of a person must I be?

I know some mums really look forward to the holidays – an opportunity to spend time with the kids, no getting up to pack lunches or do school runs, meet-ups with friends and their children, and fun days to be had.
I know some mums also really dread the holidays and wonder how on earth they will keep their little darlings occupied, and prevent the ‘I’m bored’ whines that can emanate from our children.

I kind of sit in the middle – worried and anxious about how to keep them occupied. But I enjoy not having to get up to do the school run. Take now – it’s 11.50am, the kids are happy, playing, not arguing, and I’m here on my laptop in my dressing gown, unshowered and accompanied by an empty mug – yes, because I’ve actually had time to sit and drink a whole cup of tea – that’s great. But yesterday the kids woke up at 6am and it was a shit day for us all with tempers high as tiredness dominated our moods.emmet 2

Yet, still I feel something – fear maybe – deep in the pit of my stomach. Climbing up and lurching around, every time I think about that magic date September 4th, and how far away it really is.

But you did want kids didn’t you? And now you don’t want to spend time with them? How cruel are you?

That voice lingers there. That little plastic man and his messages eat away at me.

You should just feel grateful that you have 2 healthy children.
They might be hard work at times, but you love them.
Think about all those other people that haven’t got children – think yourself lucky.
Make the most of it, they’re only young once.

And he’s kind of right. Yes, they are challenging, tiring, angry, troubled, full-on little people, but I love them with all that I have and they turned us from a couple into a family which was what we wanted. Why then, am I so anxious about spending time with them? I wonder if other mums dread the holidays as much as I do?

And then I stop, and I realise that it’s not fear of spending time with the children that’s filling me with this dread. It’s not because I don’t want to spend time with them. My fear is about my expectations of myself – can I make them happy? Am I a good enough mum to make this summer work?
I want to give them a summer in which they can relax, have fun, be children, have days out, make memories, make mess, and it’s my lack of confidence in myself as a parent that’s making me anxious.
But I needn’t worry because the kids have their own ideas of what they want to do, and with some suggestions from me, ideas from the internet, their own imaginations and desires we work together (for the most part) to make this 6 week holiday work for us all.

So now, when that little lego man opens his mouth – I sing to him.
“Everything is awesome” I bellow. “Everything is cool when you’re part of a team”.

Today’s post was from an anonymous adoptive mum. If you’d like to use this space anonymously or not to share a view, opinion, rant, poem or anything else, please contact us at theadoptionsocial@gmail.com

 

 

 

 

Book review: Can I tell you about Adoption?

In the early days of Mini’s placement with us, we did little gentle bits of work with him about different family make-ups. We used several children’s books to introduce the ideas of adoption and living with people who look different, but then when he started to have some issues around difference, specifically between himself and our birth daughter, we were advised to pull back on this, and just answer questions when they arose.

Braff-Brodzinsk_Can-I-tell-you_978-1-84905-942-8_colourjpg-printJust recently Mini’s been talking a little more about adoption and families and so I was pleased to receive a copy of Anne Braff Brodzinsky’s Can I tell you about Adoption? This is a recently published guide for friends, family and professionals, published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers. It follows the story of Chelsea and two of her friends who have been transracially adopted, and is billed as a tool for encouraging discussions for families, teachers and professionals working with adopted children.
After having a very very quick read to myself the day it arrived, I put it to one side whilst I got the children ready for bed.

“What’s that?” asks Mini.
“Oh just a book that came in the post, do you want to try to read the title?” I warily say.
“It says Can I tell you about Adoption? mummy, can we look at it?”
“Of course sweetheart”. Now at this point I’m wondering whether it’s really the right time to read this, is it going to cause problems with bedtime? Will he stay awake with worry? But he’s asked, and I said yes, so we do…

What I found great as a parent is the way that this book is so clear, but feels like it’s written in the voice of a child. It meant that Mini could understand the language, enjoyed some of the images, and he could identify with it. At 6 (but 7 soon he reminds me), he’s perhaps a little younger than the range this book is aimed at (the back of the book says 7+) but as we read through the story – as told by the character Chelsea – it opened up some conversations and Mini asked questions that were appropriate and interesting, and in a way I suppose it gave him permission to ask us questions that have obviously played on his mind, but he’s perhaps felt unable to talk through with us before. I’d like to think that the book has prompted him, but that his increasing maturity has played a part in the careful wording of his questions.

Another aspect of this book that I found interesting and helpful is the challenge that the main character presents to the child – that of becoming an adoption ambassador and spreading the word. For Mini to do this would mean telling others that he is adopted and I don’t think he’s ready for that yet, anything that would single him out as different would be a source of embarrassment and shame for him, but we talked about helping other children and people understand more about adoption and he said it’s something he’d like to do when he’s older. So again, it’s opened up something for us to talk about that I might not have been able to easily do before.

I have no doubt that we will read this book again and again, and I hope that each time Mini feels just a little bit more comfortable about asking us more detailed questions. And I’d certainly recommend it as a great conversation starter for adults if they’re unsure where to start.

Can I tell you about Adoption? is available via Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Disclaimer: We received this book for free in return for an honest review.

Considering Home Educating Part 2

Considering_HE

Today we’re bringing you the second part of Suddenly Mummy’s information on Home Educating. If you want to read the first part, it’s available here…

 

 

 

Exams and Tests

While the National Curriculum and its SATs are not necessarily applicable to home educated children, many do choose to take formal examinations, especially at GCSE level. The first step is to find exam centres (usually schools or colleges) in your area that will register you as a private candidate for the exams you wish to study. Some FE colleges do offer complete courses that home educated students can enrol on which makes the process much easier for subjects with a practical element such as Music or Art – check with your local college about the possibilities.

Once you are registered, decide how you prefer to study.

There are several online and correspondence courses available through organisations such as NorthStar which offer complete GCSE courses with online support. Many families achieve success simply by studying the core text books at home, perhaps supplementing with a little tutoring. There are many ways to approach formal examinations, but choosing home education does not mean that your child cannot succeed academically and go on to study at university and beyond if they so wish.

Network!

There are a lot of home educating families out there. Wherever you live, it is likely that there is a group of home educators near you. If you are considering home education, a little time spent on the internet will almost certainly yield results in terms of local groups, online groups and other networking options so that you can meet some home educators for yourself and get a feel for what it’s all about.

Many parents worry about the question of ‘socialisation’ – how do home educated children make friends? Well, apart from the usual extra-curricular activities that most children get involved with such as sports, Scouts and Guides, dancing, etc., home education networking can be a valuable way for children to meet others of all ages and different backgrounds who share their out-of-school lifestyle.

Worth Considering?

While home education may not be right for every child, or every family, it can be a life-changing choice for some. Research published by the National Home Education Research Institute (US) indicates that home educated students score above average on achievement tests regardless of their parents’ educational level, and that adults who were home educated are more likely to be involved in activities outside the home such as volunteering, sports, politics, community service, etc.

Home education can achieve excellent results, academically, emotionally and socially.

As parents, we needn’t be afraid of taking on the responsibility to ensure that our children get a suitable education, whether that’s through fighting their corner to get what they need from their school, or taking on the job ourselves.

Some useful links:

Education Otherwise http://www.educationotherwise.net/
Gov.uk page on HE https://www.gov.uk/home-education
The Home Service http://thehomeservice.org/
Gateway Christian Education http://gatewaychristianeducation.org.uk
National Home Education Research Institute http://www.nheri.org/
NorthStar http://northstarworldwide.org/