Some schools reopened this week and most students will be back at their desks by Labor Day. A new school year is full of excitement and anxiety for kids, parents, and teachers. At school children face pressure to behave, to fit in, to conform, and to achieve. This can overwhelm any child but especially adopted kids. When our children return home how can we best help them to decompress and re-energize?
First, reconnect emotionally. Resist the urge to ask lots of questions. Focus instead on how glad you are to have them home. Be sure to demonstrate this physically. Offer a hug, a favorite snack or describe how you thought about them while they were at school. Share about your own day and then gently invite them to talk about theirs. Use open-ended questions like, “What was one fun thing you did today?” or, “When did you feel proud of yourself today?” These questions presuppose that they had fun and/or felt proud of themselves. Questions like these send their brains searching for the positive.
Set your intention to creating a space at home that is a soft, safe place to which they are glad to return. If they seem distressed, focus on reconnection instead of uncovering facts or trying to immediately problem solve. Once you've met on that emotional bridge, then offer to explore solutions. Ask for their ideas before you offer yours. Express confidence in their ability to cope and reinforce your willingness to talk more when they are ready. Nurture without interrogating.
Seek to create a home where children feel safe, welcome and “at home,” build a space where loving relationships strengthen and draw them home to the safe harbor of their family.