Ryan's Reviews > Parenting the Hurt Child: Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow

Parenting the Hurt Child by Gregory C. Keck
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's review
Dec 16, 2015

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bookshelves: family-relationship, owned-books, non-fiction, psychology, adoption-parenting
Read from December 26, 2011 to June 18, 2012

** spoiler alert ** My notes and summary from the book:

-Parents do not need to have a consequence for a child’s every misdeed.
-Family fun should not be contingent on child behavior.
-Expectations are more effective and powerful than lots of rules.
-Parents must decide what information is private about the child.
-Hurt children get better when their pain is soothed, their anger reduced, their fears quelled, and their environment contained.
CH1: Who is the hurt child?
CH2: Dare to parent
-Hurt children are sensitive their own vulnerability and perceived weakness. They act terrified of losing control and fearful of control by others.
-Hurt children often have unhealthy fears
-They have survivor’s mentality and deny their vulnerability (think nothing can hurt them).
-Healthy fear eventually leads to respect, empathy and love, and a child cannot arrive at one stage without going through the prior stages.
-Vulnerability and perceived weakness
-Being cooperative , compliant, and receptive translates to losing.
-For healthy children, control over them equates to love. They believe their parents are all-powerful and it’s okay for them to be vulnerable. They can be weak without being unsafe, and this helps them develop a conscience (internalize morals based on fear of disapproval).
CH3: What doesn’t work
-Nurturing vs. rewards – Nurturing happens whether or not the child behaves well; rewards are more like bribery to achieve a particular behavior. Children should not be reward for doing what they are expected to do.
-Should never withhold affection/love towards the hurt child. It is impossible to make them feel worse than they already have been made to feel.
-Punishment: empathy and consequences are much better teachers than lecturing/words
-Hurt need time-ins with parents instead of time-outs. Instead of grounding, it is better to require permission for everything so there are no assumptions about what is okay to do.
-Deprivation: Taking things way from hurt children (who are used to losing everything) is ineffective. Instead, if something is going to be taken away, it needs to be taken away forever so they learn to believe what you say. For example, if they continually fail to take care of a toy/s, you can let them know that you are going to give them to a child who doesn’t have any of those toys (and make the child’s life easier because it will be less for them to clean up and take care of).
-Anger: Must remember that anger is a hurt child’s best friend. In fact, they are often the most unhappy when parents are joyful. Anger helps them feel safe and distant, and when he sees it in others, he feels powerful. It brings the level of energy the child is accustomed to.
-Equality: respond with “We’re all different, and the world doesn’t always treat us fairly or equally. It’s much better to learn this at a young age than on your first job assignment.”
CH4: What works
-Authors argue that the most effective ways to achieve attachment is through touch, smell, speech, motion, warmth, and eye contact.
-Best not to tell hurt child consequences of their behaviors, instead, parents should alternate responses so the child is always guessing as to what you will do.
-Be very careful in offering praise, it can easily make them feel as if they’ve lost control; should offer praise indirectly (let them overhear it). Also, don’t offer praise for expected behaviors (like using manners)
-Negative behaviors: turn all negative behaviors into something that you control (act like it is what you wanted them to do anyway). E.g., rating a tantrum, ask them to scream louder, predict their negative behavior.
-Work on training degrees of bad and good (e.g., “behave” to them means being perfect). Given them a rating scale, such as down to neck is not so bad, below belt is really bad
-Make very clear to hurt children expectations of your family – our family does “x”; for example, we are “truthtellers” in our family – don’t rely on subtle cues, use explicit ones
CH5: Cinnamon on applesauce
-Eye contact is very important, mimic the way that you spend a huge amount of time starting at an infant. P84 has a whole list of games/techniques
-p90 has list of techniques on how to do movement together, activities, etc.; nurturing through food is also important – see p95
-Enhancing communication – tell adoption story over and over, past experiences with kids, etc.
-p99 has several techniques for physical closeness with children
CH6: The school dance
-Teach children phrases to help them survive in school and practice them: e.g., I need help, I can do difficult things, I always have a choice, I can learn from my mistakes, I like to try new things, I like school, I can solve this, I know I can count on myself, I know where to get help, I can solve problems, I need your help to understand.
-Make sure you establish communication lines with educators early and often
CH7: Rough waters – all about getting your child unstuck and how to handle tough times
CH8: Life preservers – Lists of resources to get help from others
CH9: Finding useful help – how to find the best therapist
CH10: Ask an expert – Q&A for the authors for specific children
-kids may try to recreate sensory memories (like smell of urination) for comfort
-kids’ life book must represent reality of why they were removed from parents
-p203 has several techniques about how to deal with lying
CH11: Parents and children talk back – testimonials from parents and adopted children
CH12: Reprinted articles written by authors
-p256 good article on importance of holding and touch
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