I thought I would post a list of some simple activities you could do with your adopted child to foster attachment. As with any advice you read on caring for a traumatized child, know your child, be aware of the ways in which he or she was traumatized in the past, and know what could be unsettling for him now. For instance, the staring contest is a game I used to play with Julie back in Kazakhstan, and it was helpful and fun. I would hesitate to use this same game with James. So, just use your judgement.
Sit across from your child, holding hands, and stare at each other. You can play till the first person blinks, but I prefer till the first person laughs. Laughing, of course, gets those endorphins flowing, but trying to keep from blinking makes me feel like I'm going to cry. This game, obviously, encourages eye contact, but it's also just plain fun.
This works a bit better with girls, of course, but taking turns brushing each other's hair is a wonderful attachment activity. For that matter, painting each other's fingernails and toenails is, too.
As an aside, for my girls who were afraid of dogs when they first came home to us, I found if they could brush the dogs, they became more comfortable and less afraid of them.
This activity works great one on one in the car. I remember driving James to his therapist appointments, and he would say to me, "Tell me a story." He always wanted a story about me; my childhood, especially. In the beginning I would tell him one after the other, but then I started exacting a toll: for each story I told, he needed to tell me one from his past. We learned a lot about each other on those car trips.
Scratching each other's backs is a very nice, non-threatening way to get that extra touch in, especially for any children who might be uncomfortable/sensitive to soft touch. It can be done above the shirt if they're not able to handle skin-to-skin contact. If there's no history of sexual abuse, you can move on to include massage, but always start with something deep, like shoulder rubs, and see how they tolerate it.
I know for small children, it is often recommended that you take some time to sit them in your lap, rock them, and actually feed them a bottle. While I understand the theory behind this, it always weirded me out a bit. However, I still think there's incredible value to be found in rocking a child in your lap. I've done this with all my adopted kids, and they were nearly six, 10, and nearly 14 when they arrived home. Now, with the older ones, we started this acivity more like a joke, and it was just a silly thing they could laugh at, but when the giggles subsided, I could feel them melt into me as I hummed a soft tune and petted their hair. There is no place of comfort like a Mama's lap.
Hope these help....
Previous posts on Attachment:
Attachment The Attachment Tree
Attachment.2 I Love You
Attachment.3 Keck and Kupecky
Attachment.7 Add it on.
Image courtesy: sheknows.com
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