Learning how to lovingly and effectively parent kids from hard places is a life-long process. You will most likely need to parent your kids in a way that is quite different from how you were raised.
DISCLAIMER: That’s not to say that there is anything wrong with how you were raised! But children with a background of loss and trauma need a different parental approach. Because trauma changes the brain.
What you will find below is a list of resources that we have benefitted from. It is not an exhaustive list, but it will get you started. 🙂
Some of these will be affiliate links. It goes without saying that I don’t recommend anything unless I love it and use it. And, the cost is the same to you, but I will get a few pennies to help offset my blog costs if you click through my link. I have to let you know that, legally, so now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, here are some of my favorites.
The Happiest Baby on the Block – Dr. Harvey Karp
So, you could totally read the book (also called The Happiest Baby on the Block), but if you are a busy foster parent, … why???? when the video gives you everything you need to know? 🙂 This one REALLY helped us a lot when we had newborn Tiny Princess.
If you are new to TBRI, or Trust-Based Relational Intervention, this is the best place to start.
I know these are pricey. 🙁 But if you follow them on social media, you occasionally find out about sales. Particularly after the Empowered to Connect conference in April. But also sometimes when they update the packaging, and sell the older stock at a deep discount. You may also check out your local foster agency to see if they own any of the DVDs that you can check out on loan.
In this delightful little film about a girl named Rylie, Pixar has done a wonderful job of teaching about the many emotions that that we all have working inside of us at all times. Not just for the kids!!!!
Many popular children’s movies contain plot lines that center around adoption, orphans, and death and loss of parents. Because the images and characters that children are exposed to live deeply in their thought life, it is important to know what content may be problematic or triggering before watching. This website contains an extensive collection of movie reviews.
Empowered to Connect (a conference simulcast, for most people)
The ETC conference happens each year in mid-April. While the event itself occurs in Texas, many local foster agencies and churches sign up to host a simulcast. This is a two-day, intensive training in the methods of TBRI, or Trust-Based Relational Intervention. The cost is very low (usually under $50 for a full two days of training), and your foster agency may very well give you training hours for attending.
I have not yet attended this event. I hear it is excellent! It is on my bucket list. (When I’m not up to my elbows in kiddos.) 🙂
BOOKS (for you)
The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis
Are you picking up on a theme here? 🙂 This is the book I recommend starting with.
The Yes Brain: How to Cultivate Courage, Curiosity, and Resilience in Your Child by Dan Siegel and Tina Payne Bryson
Although I do recommend all of Siegel’s books wholeheartedly, Yes Brain, to me, seemed the most approachable. It is filled with readily actionable strategies for helping, parenting, and teaching ALL kids … but especially for kids whose brains have been impacted by complex developmental trauma, prenatal exposure and any other neurological issue.
The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma by Bessel van der Kolk
Dr. van der Kolk is one of my heroes. This is a “dense” read, but so full of great research on how trauma changes the brain (and how to heal). Topics include EMDR therapy, ACE scores and their impact, and many possible therapy options for victims of trauma.
Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew by Sherrie Eldridge
I think this was the first book that I read on adoption, years before it ever happened. It was truly an eye-opener for me. Eldridge, herself an adoptee, is a fierce advocate for healthy relationships within the adoption triad.
I Love You Rituals by Becky Bailey
If you only read the first one third of the book, that alone is a fabulous resource. Fantastic information about building attachment with your child. The “rituals” themselves are songs, rhymes and finger plays that you can then weave into your day to build attachment with your kids. <3 <3 <3
I put off starting this book for a long time, and wish I hadn’t. Food issues are all too common with foster and adopted kiddos. This book introduces the Trust Model for feeding, and is helpful whether you have a reluctant eater, overeater, or food hoarder.
While this is not a parenting-specific book, it is highly relevant to those of us parenting kids from hard places, because she deals with SHAME (something that our kids have in spades), and how to build resilience to it.
If you have any trauma in your own past, it is critical that you work through it with a professional in order to connect with your kids and be emotionally available for them to express their hurts to you. This is an outstanding resource.
If you are finding that traditional parenting techniques are not reaching your kids from hard places, this is a huge perspective-changer!
The Primal Wound: Understanding the Adopted Child by Nancy Verrier
Explores the loss issues from the perspective of the adoptee. A sobering look at how the trauma of separation from birthparents (birthmother in particular) affect the adoptee for a lifetime.
BOOKS (for your kids)
Maybe Days: A Book for Children in Foster Care by Wilgocki and Wright
This is a good one for your kids to help understand how they came to be in foster care, and what might happen for them in the future. It specifically addresses the uncertainty aspect (hence, the title).
The Redo Roo by Cindy Lee
The Redo Roo introduces the concept of the “redo,” as described in The Connected Child. All of Cindy Lee’s childrens’ books are based on connected parenting principles and very helpful!
It’s Tough to Be Gentle: A Dragon’s Tale by Cindy Lee
See note above about Cindy Lee’s books. They are all great! (These are the two we happen to have and love.)
Steps and Stones: An Anh’s Anger Story by Gail Silver
A beautiful story that teaches kids negative emotions are OK, and that they are temporary, while also giving valuable self-regulation skills.
This is not an exhaustive list by any stretch. These just happen to be the things that we know and love. I hope they are helpful to you!
Have a favorite resource for parenting kids from hard places that you don’t see? Send me a message, and I’ll get it added to my must-read list (and you will be helping other parents and kids, too)!