The second one is for the townhouse complex I mentioned in a previous email. It's good in many ways but the landscaping/grounds leaves something to be desired and it doesn't have any ground/yard space within the patio area for Zoey. I could see wanting to move in a year or two, whereas with the house I could see staying there much longer.
I could possibly continue on here in my current house for another two or three months. What do you think about that option? I mentioned in the last post that commuting is driving me insane, so it would be a tough road. But moving, especially moving in a rushed way, is super stressful too. It would just be stressful over a couple weeks, though, versus months.
Being on spring break from the college last week was so nice. I am somewhat dreading returning to that job this week. :-/ I am, however, going to continue trying to make the work environment healthier and more manageable for me by setting up the office/computer just down the hall to be functional for counselors to use when there are two of us there, which is most of the time. Before I left for break, I also scheduled times in the calendar for all the students on my caseload and enlisting the help of the office administrator to notify them and send out reminders, as well. I hope this will make connecting with the students less chaotic and unorganized.
In other news, I attended an adoption conference in Oakland yesterday, and learned a lot more about attachment and strategies to promote attachment with kids who have been traumatized or gone through significant separations/caregiver transitions. A good amount of the workshop content was more relevant for older youth, but a lot of it was also applicable to babies and infants. A few takeaway gems:
- Kids may be developmentally regressed and benefit from nurturing them in ways usually done with younger children, such as holding them and feeding them or rocking and singing to them.
- Parts language (parts of self)can be really helpful in communicating with children who are traumatized, reactive or have experienced a lot of shame. Instead of saying, "You hit your brother. We don't hit in this family," you could say, "You are angry. You are using your hitting part. It's OK to be angry but it's not okay to hit others. Do you think you can use your stopping part to stop hitting?" Something like that. I think it would take some practice.
- I really liked the idea of using a positive/negative/positive communication sandwich when a kid has done something you don't want them to do. This might look like, " I love you very much (said in a neutral or kind voice), and eating cookies before dinner is against the rules ( said with some sternness). And I still love you (said with love)."
- They talked about not using "natural consequences" in the moment until they're old enough and capable of understanding that logic. They suggested waiting several hours or even a day until they are deescalated – if they were escalated or really upset – then talking about how you hope they might do something to contribute to the person or to the family in a way that makes up for what they did. I think this was one of the biggest lessons I took away and want to remember… The lesson or response to behaviors doesn't need to happen in the moment...you can still talk about the situation or try to teach them about it later on.
I guess a lot of these are more relevant for kids three and over, but I still want to remember them. I also want to remember that even if I am placed with a baby or toddler, they have likely experienced significant loss and caregiver transitions. The teachings in the conference also validated my desire to be placed with children under two, as they emphasized how many brain connections are being made before two or three, and I hope to contribute to those connections. Also, one presenter mentioned that if a child was able to bond with any caregiver in the past, that suggests they are capable of bonding and attaching in general. This supports what the social worker advised in my training, as well.