"Instead Of" Tips
Tips to Use Instead of Traditional Parenting
Are you parenting a child who has experienced trauma?
Are you parenting a child who has a capital letter syndrome — such as ADD, ADHD, FAS, SPD, or Autism Spectrum Disorder — or another special need?
If so, then this is for you!
When it comes to parenting kids who have experienced trauma, I struggle with imposter syndrome. I often ask myself, “How can I help other parents when I couldn’t do it perfectly or even well myself sometimes?”
We must let go of the myth that perfect parents exist. They don’t. And raising kids who have had trauma means a huge learning curve for us parents — especially if we have parented our bio children okayish with great results.
Traditional parenting is for securely attached children — kids who want to please. Any sort of parenting requires a foundation of connection with the child. That connection comes more easily with kids who haven’t experienced trauma. For those who have, the foundation is absent or shaky, and as a result, the child feels no need to follow commands or listen.
Traditional parenting tends to swoop in and fix the immediate problematic behavior. It is a short-term approach that doesn’t work with kids who have trauma. Instead, you need to take the time to consider the need behind the child’s behavior and focus on the ultimate goal of connection.
Kids who have trauma care more about control and survival. When a child has a disorganized attachment style born out of trauma, he will want to control his surroundings. Control will trump following instructions every time. In fact, the very thing that would make him feel more connected, he will fight.
As the authors of The Connected Child explain, “Children who encountered deprivation or harm before they were brought home lack many types of connections. They can lack social connections, emotional connections, neurochemical connections, cognitive connections, and sensory connections.” Because these connections do not exist, traditional parenting will not work. We must change our parenting to adjust to the fact that it will be different with these kiddos.
We trauma-informed parents need to know what does work!
Join me for 8 “INSTEAD OF” PARENTING SUGGESTIONS
- Instead of a lecture, use simple language (8- 12 words total).
- Instead of waiting for behavior to intensify, respond quickly.
- Instead of giving orders, offer simple choices.
- Instead of just correcting, give immediate retraining and a “re-do.”
- Instead of expecting a child to know, clarify expectations.
- Instead of isolating when a child is dysregulated, keep the child near you.
- Instead of only noticing the “bad” behaviors, offer praise for success.
- Instead of taking it personally, remember there is a need behind the behavior.
“Kathleen’s insight — both from her firsthand experience as an adoptive mother and from her education as an Empowered to Connect trainer — is something I wish I’d had when we began our own journey as foster parents. She is absolutely the first resource I would recommend to anyone who is considering foster care or adoption.” - Kristin Peters, Adoptive/Foster Parent
"Kathleen has been an integral part of my journey to becoming a foster mother and to becoming a better parent in general. Through attending her Empowered to Connect course Kathleen has equipped me with new ways to parent my children. Not only did she provide me with the tools I would need to parent children from hard places, but she also backed up those tools with the science on why they are effective. Parenting is difficult and stressful and overwhelming under the best of circumstances. Parenting a child with a capital letter syndrome or a child from a hard place is all of those things and on top of all that, it can be isolating. Through her classes, podcasts, blogs, videos, conferences, and advice Kathleen has helped me to look at my child’s behaviors in a new way. She has helped me to change the way I parent and has shown me that I’m not alone. Because of Kathleen’s influence I have more successes to celebrate in the journey of parenting my children." - Rachel Eubanks, Foster Parent
"Kathleen has such a big heart for helping others in the adoption world! My husband and I had the opportunity to hear her speak at an adoption seminar. I instantly knew she was someone that I could look to for advice on parenting our adopted children. She has wrote helpful suggestions on parenting and also ways to help take care of myself during the trying times. I enjoy how scripture and reflection are part of anything she writes!" - Karri Shilling, Adoptive and Foster Parent
"My husband and I first met Kathleen through a mutual friend in 2016. We learned of her adoption journey and read her first book. We were looking for a guest speaker at an adoption seminar at our church. We contacted Kathleen and she eagerly accepted the invitation to speak. Kathleen was truly a blessing at the seminar. She is extremely knowledgeable and her sweet spirit was felt by all. Kathleen not only served as the guest speaker, she sat on a panel and answered questions from the prospective adoptive/foster parents.
Kathleen has been much more to us over the years. She never hesitates to respond to an email or message that we have with our children who have a trauma background. She has offered help in so many ways. She even offered to come to my home and observe our family and offer any help! She is easy to speak with and offers so much knowledge to other families. Most of all, she offers hope when we thought there was none. Kathleen has become a treasured friend. We truly needed a Christian who understood our struggles and the potential struggles of other families in our church.Kathleen offers hope and healing to families."
-Jeremy and Jeanine Kaminski"
"Kathleen is an endless source of information when it comes to foster/adoption situations, triumphs and struggles. Her genuine, heart felt desire for this purpose is something I admire. Trauma, which is prominent in this field, is not an easy thing to talk about but Kathleen is inviting, nurturing and attentive to those she’s trying to help. She is the first person I go to when having any questions on how to approach certain situations that the child from a hard place in my life may be going through. Thankful God has placed such a knowledgeable, driven mentor like her in my life."
- Jessica McHugh, Kinship foster parent
Kathleen is an author, speaker, mother of 7 - four through adoption.Kathleen has written Positive Adoption: A Memoir chronicling her childhood story intertwined with the story of the adoption of her children. She has also written: Five Things: A Tiny Handbook for Adoptive/Foster Families, Defining Home (A novel), 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas: An Advent Devotional. Kathleen is a certified Empowered to Connect Parent Trainer, which relies heavily on the model TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) created by Dr. Karyn Purvis and her colleagues at TCU. You can find more about her, including over six hundred articles she has written about adoption, home, house and family at https://thewholehouse.org.