Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Moving from Coping Skills to Family Skills

I have been reading a fantastic book that has helped put some of our boy's behaviors into perspective. If you are adopting or have adopted, make sure and check out Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child. I am learning more about why the kids respond to different situations. Learning about their coping skills (AKA survival skills).

You see...we have one child who "shuts down" when he is maxed out and another who "revs up and acts out". If you look through our pictures, it is pretty easy to see which one of our boys "shuts down". Our little guy. He doesn't like to have his picture taken. He doesn't like to eat when others are around. He can very easily be the one who looks shy or like he is pouting.

Here are some pictures from his birthday. I took the kids for ice cream. And...he was "out of sorts".
Now this was a few months ago and he has come a LONG way since then. But it is good to show how he can respond when he is having an overwhelming moment or feeling stressed.
Now our older one...he likes to act wild and get spazzy and then it is hard for him to settle down and listen and follow the instructions.
Here we are...trying to celebrate Tate's birthday with some ice cream out, and he shuts down and has a tantrum at the Sonic drive in (and no, I did not take that picture). When we first came home, we got a "baptism by fire" if you will on tantrums. Whoa...those were some powerful tantrums from our little guy. But, here we are, almost 8 months home and we haven't seen a tantrum in a while. The boys have learned to use more appropriate ways to express their disappointment or grief. Instead of tantrums, Tate will often curl up on the ground and put his head down. Then we take a moment to talk and use our words to share what he is feeling. We are working hard at moving from coping skills/survival skills to "family skills".

Everything I do with our boys in intentional. I am working hard at parenting them the best I can to build them up for success. It is really neat to see them doing better and better at stressful situations. They are using those learned skills (family skills) to handle the hard times. As their communication skills grow and their language improves, it helps the situation so much.

Now, there are times that they quickly revert back to survival skills (acting out or shutting down). Any kind of change of routine or any simple change, can bring them back to their familiar coping skills. So, we are still a bit of a "messy" family, but we are heading in the right direction.


  1. Thanks so much for sharing an "inside perspective." It's amazing to see how each child is wired so differently and to learn how to parent accordingly. Being intentional definitely takes lots of effort and I'm so glad that you're seeing the fruits of your love and hard work!

  2. Cris, you totally inspire me. What a great mom you are! I keep thinking how you are 3 months ahead of me and how much things will change for us in 3 months time. It is so neat to see your boys changing and growing. Your hard work is paying off, dear friend.

  3. Cris, you are doing such a great job! You are such an awesome Mom! So patient, loving and intentional..such a good example for us moms who don't have our babies home yet! Thanks for always sharing such great advice!

  4. Way to go, Cris! Cheering and praying your family on to continued adjustment and growth.

  5. Coping behaviors are so interesting. It is such a challenge to know whether to accept such a behavior or to address it as an obedience issue. I think you nailed it when you spoke of moving from coping behaviors to family skills. You all are the right family for these boys to be in, and to learn to be part of family.

  6. So glad this book has helped you understand you kids more...Isn't God good to give us wisdom and insight into these perplexing issues with our families. Love you sweetie. Good for you to be so intentional each day...God will bless you hard work and efforts!