It’s far from light summer reading, and probably not what you want to tote with you to the beach, but Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control, Vol. 2 is a worthwhile read for every parent to a child from a hard place. Often orphaned and vulnerable children have spent the early years of their lives in environments lacking in safety and security. These environments are not conducive to developing healthy relationships or teaching their bodies how to regulate emotions. As a result, children who join families through adoption carry wounds that affect their behavior.
Heather T. Forbes goes beyond explaining that parenting a child from a hard place is going to be different from other parenting experiences; she tackles the issue of discipline specifically and gives practical examples that are sure to be helpful for adoptive parents. Most of Forbes’ ideas hinge on the question: “How do I help my child regain the lost sense of safety, security, and unconditional love that has been interrupted by fear, pain, and loss in his past?”
Her examples and family testimonials demonstrate that even correcting behavior can be an opportunity for parents to connect with their child. But for this to happen, parents by adoption need to move beyond the traditional methods of discipline, including time-outs. Time-outs, sticker charts, and other traditional discipline methods create distance between a parent and a child, which works against building attachment with children who join a family through adoption. These more traditional methods of discipline don’t usually work for children from hard places. Forbes shares that’s because “children will only change their behaviors when they feel safe and capable of managing the world around them without this behavior.” Connecting with a child, even in their moments of disobedience, fosters feelings of safety and security; isolation through time-out (or other traditional discipline methods) takes a child back to a place of fear, insecurity and a lack of safety.
Before you panic that Forbes’ methods and ideas will lead to your child continuing in their disobedient behaviors, do understand that she is proposing something deeper than simply correcting behaviors. Sending a child to time-out is easy, but understanding the underlying cause for the behavior can be more complicated. Speaking to parents, Forbes says, “We must ask the right questions: What is driving this behavior? What is preventing a child from behaving from a conscious, rational place?” She further asserts that behavior will change when parents are able to connect with their child and identify underlying triggers and causes for the disobedience or dysregulation.
Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control, Vol. 2 is an excellent read for adoptive parents, but also for the family members and support systems of families built through adoption.