A few posts ago I mentioned that Brandon was really irritable and downright miserable to be around at times. He was complaining and whining about EVERYTHING, even things that he liked to do such as playing soccer and eating meals. After reading through the book Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child by Patty Cogen, I think I may understand a bit more about the attitudes he is exhibiting. For those of you who follow my blog and are experiencing similar behavior from your adopted child, you may want to get this book.
As I’ve mentioned in the past, Brandon came from an orphanage where he rarely left the acreage, if ever, in at least 4 years. However, in the last 4 ½ months that he’s been home we’ve traveled all over the east coast to Maryland, the Blue Ridge Mountains and out to Carolina beach. He has to get up every day for school and travel 30 minutes by car, sit through 7 hours of scheduled classes and then travel home again 30 minutes. On Sundays, Mondays and Wednesdays this trip happens twice a day for soccer or church. So that is 2 hours in a car 3 days a week plus a few more hours each week of sitting through church. And even though soccer is playing, he is still following a schedule of his coach.
What the book suggests is that when the internationally adopted child is being “foul” (as I call it) the child is actually stressed out and is crying out to slow down the pace of life. It is too much bombardment of activity in too short of a time span. Our expectations on Brandon for achievement and activity are too high right now. What really made this idea click for me was when the book asked the question, “Does your child have less than an hour of free time to relax or play as they choose each day?”
As soon as I realized that the poor child is way too “scheduled” each day, we rearranged his day to allow him to have free time to play or relax as he chooses. What a remarkable improvement in his attitude!! Almost immediately he was the same old happy and thankful child he has always been. I think we often forget that American children are used to being scheduled. We Americans rush our kids to all kinds of extracurricular and church activities. Although Brandon loves to travel, see new places and he loves to play sports, we need to remember from now on to make sure that he has some down time to relax and have free time to play whatever he wants. What Brandon and the girls love most is the free time we spend together as a family or the time when they can go out and play freely in the neighborhood.