Tuesday Topic: Sleep Problems and Setting Boundaries

This week’s Tuesday Topic comes from Amber, who wrote,

We have just adopted two girls ages 4 and 2 from Ethiopia. We’re struggling with a couple of issues with them. When we have to set boundaries for the older one by telling her no, she gets mad and seems to show no forgiveness. She is mad for several hours. Neither girl can speak English, so it’s not like I can address this issue by having a small discussion with her as I would our biological 3. What would you recommend for this kind of behavior? (The things we are teaching her “no” on are for her own safety…for instance, walking out of the house without letting anyone know where she is, not playing near the street, etc.)

The other question is about the 2 yr old. We are struggling with getting her to sleep. She will fall asleep in our arms without a tear, the minute we lay her down, she wakes up and starts crying. We do not have her in a crib, so if she wants to get out of bed, she does and we start the battle all over again. With our first 3, we would’ve just set them in their crib and let them cry but I’m not sure that this is a good idea for a newly adopted child. Any ideas?

Let’s offer Amber some suggestions from our own experiences.  I know many of you are forming answers in your minds right now; take a moment to click on comments and leave your thoughts for Amber.

I’ll post your responses on Friday, September 17th.

Encourage one another,

Lisa

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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

23 Comments

  1. Paula
    September 14, 2010

    Our twins had just turned five when we brought them home 15 months ago. They were terrible about taking no for an answer and would pout for hours, or worse, throw the queen of all fits. We have three big bio kids, and we had never seen the like! It also took at least two hours to get them to bed every single night. As their English improved, the temper fits improved. We also started one of the girls in therapy after she had been home about six months. Our therapist was a lifesaver! Many, many of our "bad behavior" issues were really issues about insecurity and fear. Both girls are mostly well-adjusted now; we do need an occasional therapy visit for a tune-up. The bad news is that our sleep issues just resolved themselves within the last month and a half. I have no idea why; they just suddenly started staying in bed. We'll take it any way we can get it! If you haven't read it yet, I highly recommend The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis. Best book out there to help you understand where your adopted child is coming from.

    Reply
  2. Kayla
    September 14, 2010

    In the moment of the right now, make sure she understands what it is she has done wrong. Act it out. Use short phrases. Whatever it takes. Then offer a chance to redo and do it correctly. You may need to use a consequence in between that. I know some people aren't keen on using time out with adopted kids. I've used time outs with both of mine but our time out spot is right near the living room, where they are still a part of what's going on. Time ins are also good to use. It gives you a chance to not be in punish mode; you can say things like "you need to come sit with me until you can get unmad." It helps identify emotion and then place them in charge of ending the time in. One of mine needed a safe place to tantrum for the first couple of week or so. He just was feeling out of whack he would just cry and be mad and no amount of consoling would help. So we made a large space in the middle of the floor where he could tantrum in our presence and then be soothed after the tantrum.

    Reply
  3. Kayla
    September 14, 2010

    I also found it helpful to focus on the heart issue behind the misbehavior. Lack of trust? Lack of kindness? Lack of gentleness? As soon as I could, I taught them 1 Cor. 13 which helped to establish what love looks like and gives a Biblical baseline for behavior.

    Reply
  4. Kayla
    September 14, 2010

    We blew up our air mattress and slept on the floor next to our kids for the first 3 weeks or so. The first few nights, we let them sleep next to us on the floor. Then we put them in their beds while we lay down on the floor next to them until they fell asleep. Eventually, it felt like they were secure enough to sleep without us as our room was just right down the hall. We then made a spot for them to sleep on the floor at the foot of our bed so if they did wake up, they could fall asleep on our floor. At some point, you will get to the point where you know when your daughter is just pushing your buttons and you'll know that she can just cry it out. And maybe you won't ever get to that point with her, depending on her level of attachment. But I agree with you that you don't just want to do that when everything is so new.

    Reply
  5. Kate in NY
    September 14, 2010

    Your post is bringing back memories of when we first adopted our son, Abi, then 6ish. When he heard "no" he could sulk literally for HOURS. Sometimes he would tantrum as well. For HOURS. It definitely wasn't what I was expecting – after all, I imagine life was quite controlled at the orphanage, and that he would be used to following rules.

    I have to say there wasn't one single, magic cure that turned it around. I am not a big fan of "star charts," but in the early days I did make up a couple of them – one star for every time he said, "OK, Mom" – and when he got to 10, or whatever, he got to pick out a little toy at the store. It's amazing how little English kids need to know to understand that they are getting a PRIZE! Usually, though, I just shrugged, and went cheerfully about my business, checking in every once in a while but not getting too bent out of shape when my "advances" were rebuffed. And sometimes, when the sulking went on and on and really disrupted "family life," I would give out a small job that we could do together – and it had to be done before "the next good thing" (i.e., a video, a snack, a trip to town, etc.)" Gradually, gradually, he became better at handling life's disappointments.

    By the way – our son has been home for 5 years, and we are still working on this to some extent. That isn't to make you feel discouraged – just to let you know that this is an issue with many of our kids, and
    the big empty hole that so many of them have inside – well, it's not always so easy to fill. Hang in there.

    Reply
  6. Abbey
    September 14, 2010

    Hi Amber-

    It will be very tiring for you for the next while, but I would encourage you to not confuse discipline with sleep trouble for the time being. If your two year old is happy to sleep in your arms, try co-sleeping for awhile or having a toddler bed set up right next to yours so you can quickly and easily reach her before she fully wakes up. When she falls asleep in your arms, after she seems very asleep, lay down next to her, with her still in your arms. Then try to slowly make your getaway! This is an extremely exhausting way to parent, but if you can manage for awhile it's worth it. She is just learning what having a mother means, and trying to figure out whether or not she is safe and whether her needs will be met. By responding to her needs (high and exhausting though they may be!) you are sending her a clear message that she is safe in your home and in your arms. Consider it a golden opportunity for fostering attachment. You will earn something that will give you far more than it will cost: her trust. Praying for your joy in the process…. and hopefully at least a bit of rest too.

    Abbey

    Reply
  7. gjisaac
    September 14, 2010

    You may have already tried this, but have you considered a toddler bed to have the girls co-sleep next to you? When our daughter came home at age 4, I put a toddler bed next to my side of the bed, and we took our bed off it's frame so it was nearly level with her bed so we were sleeping next to each other, but I still had a little space. I also did go in with her and lay with her while she fell asleep for quite some time. She was fine during the day but she would often wake at night sobbing – just grief and fear which they're so distracted from during the day with so much stimulation but hard to cope with at night. Being able to reach her hand out and hold onto me at night did a lot to comfort her.

    Reply
  8. gjisaac
    September 14, 2010

    For your older daughter, we noticed with our son, who spent a long time in an orphanage (and also came home at 4) that his life inside the walls of his orphanage had nearly no boundaries. He could play what he wanted, when he wanted, with whatever he could find. Your daughter may not be used to normal family boundaries and may be used to a kind of free-for-all orphanage life. Have you tried keeping her close at your side all the time for a while? It may help while she's learning English and soaking in the rhythms of family life – and will limit the dangers she can get into. My son spent a lot of time sitting on the kitchen counter when I was working in the kitchen, or playing with legos in the room where I was, etc. I will say he often resented it initially, but he always settled in as he realized "she really means it – this is what we're doing." Some moms even carry their 3-5 year old adopted kiddos in Ergos, slings, etc. when they are newly home for several weeks like they would with a baby. I didn't but sometimes I wish I had! 🙂 Often thinking of those 3-4 year old kids as 1-2 years old and then parenting them that way makes a lot of sense.

    Reply
  9. Jen
    September 14, 2010

    well, I might end up in the minority here, but I'll tell you what we did with our "littles" when we adopted them (one 4 y.o. from Liberia, 2 foster babies ages 1 and 2 that we had for a few months, and adopted two brothers ages 2 and 3 just last year).

    Sleep – Honestly, with all of the other "issues" every day with adoption, attachment, etc. . . (not to mention the fact that 2 toddler/preschoolers in general can be exhausting), we realized that we HAD to sleep. It benefits the whole family!

    So, we figured out that the best thing for our children and our family was for us to have a really good bedtime routine: bath, jammies, rocking and cuddling with a bottle of sweet milk* and then kisses and hugs and into bed – crying or not. Of course, there was always crying for about 2 weeks.

    We would just stand close outside the door and occasionally say something like "it's o.k. we're right here, it is time for bed." If they got up, we put them right back, said it was time for bed, and went right back out. They tested. We stuck. They all (all 5 we have or had who were 4 or younger at the time) go to bed with no problem after a couple of weeks. Our youngest would give a little fake cry for a few minutes for about 3 months but would almost always stop after we said "good night. we love you. it is time for bed." It has to be really consistent, though.

    *Sweet milk and rocking (mentioned above) – I think this was a KEY part of our bonding/attachment process with all of our toddlers and preschoolers. Basically, we just put a little sugar (not much) in a bottle of warm milk (maybe 4-8 oz) each night and then rocked and sang to them – holding them like an infant across your chest and looking up into your eyes. Make a lot of eye contact as you feed them the sweet milk – YOU hold the bottle, YOU hold them and look at them and encourage them to look at your WARM, sweet eyes while they drink the sweet milk which affects their brain chemistry and makes GOOD connections. I would TOTALLY encourage you to do this with both the 2 and 4 year old EVERY night for at least 2 months and longer if possible!!!

    And then put them in bed and get some sleep for your busy day tomorrow!

    The other "mad" stuff – my 4 y.o. daughter from Liberia could pitch a mad fit like no other. . . doing that at the orphan home brought tons of attention from the older children and from the "whike" people/missionaries – LOL! So, she tried it A LOT. If it works (to get attention – good or bad) then, of course, they will keep it up.

    We opted for a non-challant response to the "mad" fits. Basically something like "(repeating the no) you may not____. I know you are sad about that. We will be happy to have you join us again when you're ready to be fun to be with. until then, you may sit here (somewhere nearby, but not right in the middle of everyone). "

    and then on with something fun (she'll probably want to join in, but if not, it is o.k.). Don't give her a big pity party. It doesn't help. keep your voice nice and light. Even though you think she can't understand, just keep saying the same things and moving her to a sitting spot. Show her the difference between a mad and a happy face (practice smiling when she isn't in a mad mood).

    You can also play a little game with M&M's when she isn't mad. Have her look in your eyes and smile for 2 seconds and then give her a big hug and m&m. Then try again for 3 seconds. . . have all of your kids play along and make it fun. Make smiling, laughing, saying "I love you with your eyes", etc. . . a FUN, happy thing to do – and with a fun m&m candy reward.

    Don't worry too much. There is a lot of attitude at first. My little 4 y.o. was the queen of the pouty mad fit and she is a true JOY now (3 years later).

    Reply
  10. beth
    September 15, 2010

    First-congratulations on your two new daughters! We also adopted two and four year old sisters about 18 months ago. My best advice is keep them with you at all times. When you clean, have them clean along side you, when you go somewhere they go too, cook with them, spend time playing with them and reading to them, always be where they are. Our girls slept together for the first few months although there was another bed in the room, they napped together and went to bed at the same time. I would recommend not rocking to sleep, but rocking other times. Sit outside the bedroom until they know to stay in bed.You could also sit in the room and read or go in and out putting things away etc.We were not as firm in the beginning as we should have been but got firm really quick when we saw the "discussions" we had with our other four bios. did not work. Whatever boundary you decide to set, stick to like glue and correct quickly if they overstep. I found our girls liked the security of knowing who was in charge and they would take full advantage if I was not firm. It may feel like you are doing a lot of correcting in the beginning but it will get better as they learn how your family functions.

    Reply
  11. MeganB
    September 15, 2010

    Our son is also two, and came home about 7 months ago. He also did not want to be left in his crib, and cospleeping was not an option for us for many reasons. We tried to remember how he was sleeping in the care center…did he have blankets, sleep with socks on, sleep with a night light or not, have noise in the back ground, stuff animals in his bed, what side of his crib was touching the wall, what the nannies did before bedtime…and then tried to imitate that as much as possible. We used a sound machine as he was used to much commotion, no lights, no blankets or stuffed animals and after a bottle and rocking we would lay on the floor next to his crib until he fell asleep, b/c he was used to sleeping in a crib with someone else right next to him. Once he fell asleep we left the room. If he woke back up, we would go back in and rub his back and ask him to lie down and go "night night" (this is what the nannies did if a little one woke up). And we would lie beside him again until he fell back to sleep. We never let him "cry it out" and still do not let him cry for more that 10 minutes.

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  12. Megan
    September 15, 2010

    CONTINUED…..
    At first this took a lot of laying next to him, and rubbing his back. But as he got used to the surroundings, and us, I think he felt safer and knew we were not leaving him when we went out of the room. He is a great sleeper now. He usuaully still wakes up around 10 PM, cries out our name, and just wants to see that we are there. We go in rub his back, and he falls back to sleep for the night.
    I'm sure you will get many suggestions. Do what works for you and your child. Do not feel bad for not cosleeping if it does not work for your family (I know many adoptive Moms told me I needed to cosleep or he would not attach to us, but he has very much healthy attached to us just fine). Everyone family is different, every child seeks comfort differently, you will just have to do some trail and error! Good luck!

    Reply
  13. Esther
    September 15, 2010

    Well, first of all the language part is where it going to be a big problem for now, she cannot understand you so explaining to her the reasons is going to be impossible (communication) Secondly, they are still very young to really comprehend as to what exactly has happened to them, I am a refugee myself and I came to this country at the age of 13 , being able to comprehend why my family had decided to leave Cuba, my family had to explained it everyday it seemed, at first I hated it here, I missed my counrty, my friends, my culture etc…I hope you can follow what I am saying to you?!
    They are still very young, I have a granddaughter that is 4, she understands me when I tell her Savanna you shouldn't do this because…..and she still asks me why Nana?? and she tries to cross that boundary and I have to be firm and not give in, but she understands me I am able to communicate with her to her I can make sense of the situation. Be patient with your little one's, they have been thru alot in their lives, and this is so new to them, everyting is so different here. I really don't know what else I can say but to pray for you and I will.

    Reply
  14. beth
    September 15, 2010

    Lisa-( I don't know you but read your blog regularly)I commented already but thought of another idea to help with sleep transition in the beginning days. We established a bedtime routine where we bathed,snuggled and read simple board books, prayed for all the orphanage friends and family. We played story cds and soft praise music to help settle down,used a night light, but the cds only played when everyone was staying in bed. We knew enough Amharic to communicate in toddler speak. English will come quickly! Much love and best wishes.

    Reply
  15. Esther
    September 15, 2010

    And as far as your younger one, maybe she is afraid that when she falls asleep she will be somehow taken somewhere else?? its like when you fall asleep you are NOT concience so anything could happen right? you said she hangs onto you…..obviously you are her security and that speaks volume. I would lay down with her for a bit until she gets feeling more secure about the fact that nothing or no one will take her anywhere….this is her forever home and family……great big hugs to you and bless your amazing heart. Esther

    Reply
  16. carla
    September 15, 2010

    We brought home two children almost two years ago and it has been and still is an adjustment. The youngest was three and he would wake up calling "ah mama" and he would not stop or go to sleep until I laid with him. He would then wake again and if I wasn't there he would do the same thing. At first, I wanted him to make sure he knew he was safe, BUT over time, it became a control issue for him. Even to the point of wanting to lay on top of me and sleep. Some would be comfortable with this, but I was not. I need sleep or I don't function too well and dealing with this major adjustment would have been a major nightmare, it was already hard enough. Finally, after about two weeks, I told him that he would have to sleep in his bed alone and I would not be laying with him anymore, but showed him where my room was and where I would be sleeping and tried to assure him he was okay. Well, in the middle of the night he called out to me and told me he had to go to the bathroom. I took him and put him back in bed. A few minutes later he was out of the bed telling me the same thing, this happened several times in just a 30 minutes period. I finally had to spank him on the bottom and tell him NOT to get out of bed. We have not had any problems since. I think we have to discern what is really a need and how much they are trying to control. It takes a while to learn about your child and what their motives really are. But for us, I knew at that point, he knew he was safe, he was just trying to control me. He had spent 8 months in an orphanage sleeping in a top bunk by himself. He had my bio son sleeping in the same room with him, so he wasn't alone. Plus I was directly across the hallway from him. Personally, I would get a crib and try that, so you can get some sleep. Boundaries need to be set even if they are physical. Hope this helps. As far as the older child, we had to be very strict and stern until we could communicate better, it was out of need to keep them safe. I would not allow pouting and tantrums and over time they saw it wouldn't work, so they quit. If they tried this, they would have to sit in time out or not get to do something they wanted, like not get a treat or watch a movie. It is tiring, but well worth it in the long run. 🙂

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  17. aarsethfamily
    September 15, 2010

    Our daughter was 14 months old when we brought her home (but we suspect she is probably 4-6 months older than that) She had similar sleep issues but we had a crib. She would scream if we laid her down in her crib and would wake up every 2 hours all night long and it would take me almost an hour each time to get her to go back to sleep. Finally after trying many different things this is what worked: I would rock her every night when she was getting tired for about 20 minutes then lay her in her crib still awake and rub her back for a while. For the first few days she continued to cry for the first few days but then would only cry when I stopped. It was like she was trying so hard to stay awake to make sure I stayed in the room with her. So little by little I would move away from her in her bed after rubbing her back but stay in her room, usually just out of her sight. If she started to whimper just a little bit, I would start saying, shh shh I'm still here and she would stop. Then 5 min later she would whimper again and I would do it again, and again until I was sitting outside her door and she would finally fall asleep. Also anytime she would cry out at night this was the routine rock, rub back, slowly move away. It was exhausting but after 6 weeks it was like a light switch went off and she decided she could live with us and started sleeping all night long and never waking up. I am not kidding when it was like one day she was waking up every two hours and the next night slept straight through and has never really woken up in the night since then! We have been home for a little over a year and now she is the best sleeper ever! She goes down with no problems and sleeps all night. I have more problems keeping my biological son in bed! So all this to say is I think she just didn't trust us and I had to earn her trust. We don't co-sleep in our family for many reasons so I had to make sure she knew I was going to be there for her all night long. When she finally decided to trust us, sleep was no longer an issue. I suggest you find a consistent routine that will help your daughter feel safe and secure and fall in line with your own parenting style…..there is no right or wrong way, every family is different.

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  18. Laurel
    September 15, 2010

    We are in the same boat with our son who is 16 months old and we adopted him from Ethiopia at 8 months old. He is not a good sleeper. He seems to have a lot of anxiety when it comes to nighttime and sleeping. We recently moved him to a twin size bed and after rocking him for about 10 minutes, we lay down next to him in his bed while he falls asleep. This seems to help him a lot and give him a lot of comfort. Once he is completely out, we slowly and quietly ease ourselves off the bed. It disrupts him a whole lot less than standing up after rocking him to sleep and laying him down. That always used to make him up, too.
    I know it's difficult to have a poor sleeper…we are looking for tips as well. But as far as letting them "cry it out", we actually tried a method of sleep training this week that involved letting him cry for 5 min, going in for 2 min, letting him cry for 7 min, going in for 1 min, etc. It was having a very poor effect on him and we decided the most important thing right now is for him to learn to completely trust us and that we are there when he needs us, even if it's just that he can't sleep.

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  19. learningpatience
    September 15, 2010

    I wish you had written how long your girlies have been home! I know that we dealt with several behaviors that we thought would never, ever go away . . . but in hindsight really were short lived.

    For your older one, you can't control her behavior or emotions. You can control how you handle it all. So in that vein, my two cents is to say to handle it all as calmly as you can. Don't respond to her anger, just guide her in the correct thing to do. Model good behavior for her, hold her hand and redirect her attention to something that she is allowed to do. As she can communicate more, you'll be able to explain more, but for now you simply have to model the way that you do things in your house. She doesn't understand yet how things work there, and she will copy you – your moods and attitudes and actions. She is probably also scared and trying to control the situation – hang in there.

    For your little one: We had the same kind of scenario for a while, and I remember my husband saying, "When is this going to end?" I don't sleep when I have children in bed with me (I've tried and tried!) We did use a crib to help contain our newly adopted two year old; that helped, and he actually seemed comforted there. (He was used to a crib in the orphanage, so I'm guessing it was familiar.) He didn't like it, but he was ok with it as long as we were there. So for the longest time, we would let him fall asleep in our arms, lay him down and put our arm in the crib until he fell back to sleep, sneak out, then RACE to the crib as soon as we heard any kind of movement. At first he woke every few hours, like an infant. Then we got more and more sleep until he is like a light switch now; we can tell him to "go to sleep" and he does! It's crazy!

    I often tell my husband, "If I had known then that I would sleep again someday and not be exhausted forever, I think I would have felt less despair our first few months home!"

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  20. Karen
    September 16, 2010

    I tend to operate with this rule of thumb: treat your newly adopted child like you would a newborn. Yes, I know that they aren't newborns and walking outside without adult supervision isn't something a newborn would do, but think of how you would teach that to your toddler. Even though the girls cannot understand you, talk to them. Tell them that it is not safe to do X,Y, or Z. Do you have a contact person that can give you some basic phrases in the native tongue of your children so that you can convey that it is not safe? As for the sleeping, can you cosleep with the two year old or put her in a bed/cot in your room? I am currently adopting a 5 1/2 year old girl. The first time she spent the night with me (she was 3 1/2 years old at that time), she grabbed onto my hair and held it for the whole night! She needed to make sure that I wasn't leaving her. A month ago, I spent about 10 days with her. She slept right in the crook of my back–if I rolled over to get a drink of water from the nightstand, she would move over, in her sleep, so that she was still RIGHT in the crook of my back. Again, how would you reassure your newborn?

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  21. Melissa
    September 16, 2010

    I don't think I can offer any help with your language question – both of our adoptees were English speakers (well, one was a baby). But I do have a thought with your 2 year old's sleep troubles. This may sound a bit strange, so take from it what you would like :-). If I could do one thing over with our adopted daughter, it would be to have let her sleep in my arms when she first came home. I did not used to be a person who ever imagined a child sleeping in our bed, and I didn't at all with my first three (now I think of it, I wish I could undo that, too). Our fourth daughter had breathing issues as an infant, and our midwife suggested I let her sleep on me – to help regulate her breathing. It worked beautifully, and we also noticed she was such a delightfully happy newborn. We ended up getting a bit hooked, and we did the same thing with our next two newborns. Not for long, but they slept in our bed for a few weeks to a month, and then they scooted over to their little bassinets. I can't describe how much more we enjoyed the newborn phase this way. We never really had any troubles with them sleeping on their own after that. Back to adopted little ones: I feel like, depending on their story, they often miss out on so much of the snuggling that happens naturally in a nursing baby phase, and even if they have had that at the beginning, they are starting over in a completely foreign home. I can understand that sleeping on their own could be a bit traumatic, and I would lean toward softening up what I "normally" might do with sleep issues in my biological kids, in favor of helping to form a sweet, secure attachment. I don't necessarily mean for a hugely long time, but have you thought of letting her sleep with you for a few weeks, then maybe doing an in-between and letting her fall asleep with you, but moving her to a bed on your floor, then perhaps her falling asleep with you reading a book where she can see you, and eventually going to bed on her own? Our adopted daughter was pretty quiet in bed, and didn't have any obvious sleep troubles from the beginning – but now that I really know her and how her personality works, I'm convinced I would have let her sleep in my arms at the beginning – I think it would have been such a better start and would have given her the secure, comforting mama arms that my newborns got to start out with. I don't know if that's helpful for you, but perhaps some food for thought (with terrible grammar, most likely, as I'm very tired today!) Blessings on your journey with your new little ones!

    Reply
  22. Kate
    September 16, 2010

    We brought home our 12 yr old son from Haiti in January. Surprisingly, your struggles are similar to what we went / are going through. My advice: keep gently but firmly setting those limits! Even though your 4 yr old seems angry, the limits help her to feel safe. As she begins to understand the rules she will be able to let her guard down and attach to your family. As for the sleeping issues, how about bringing your 2 yr. old into your bed for awhile? Our son could not sleep in a room by himself for the first 4 months he was home. We put his mattress on the floor by our bed, but even that was not enough sometimes. Many nights my husband and I took turns sitting/lying next to him and holding his hand or just keeping a hand on his shoulder. It seemed he required the physical contact to be able to sleep. (and he was 11!). You can work on healthy sleep habits later, but I agree, letting a newly adopted 2 yr old cry is probably not a good idea.

    I hope that helps! Hang in there – it really does get easier. Right at 6 months things took a dramatic turn for the better.

    Reply
  23. Julie
    September 17, 2010

    This was one of the hardest parts of the early days. Not having a common language was so painful, because I wanted to explain everything. Your eyes have to be the common language when the kids are first home. Your eyes and your tone of voice have to express "I love you, but that is a not okay." Actually, that's a really good quality to have to use with all of your kids for the rest of your life. 🙂

    Maybe you can show your daughters with dolls, what would happen if…Use the doll and your facial expressions to show how she would get hurt and how you would be sad.

    Also, as their language develops, sandwich the no between two yes's, if you can. " I would love to go out to play with you, but right now Mommy has to cook dinner, so not now, but maybe later."

    For the little one with sleep issues, put a little bed in your room that she can come to whenever she needs to. She's scared and needs to be close to you. This may last a l-o-n-g time. 🙂 Also, have you tried laying down with her to fall asleep? We did that for the first several months. Then we sat in her room while she fell asleep. Finally, we moved to the hall outside her door while she fell asleep.

    Bless you. Hang in there, Hon. The first days are rough, but it does get better. 🙂

    Reply

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