Last week, well two weeks ago almost as this last week was a holiday week, I talked about my youngest’s upcoming graduation and that got me thinking about what we did to prepare our eldest’s school for his arrival.

When our kids came we were advised, following a Theraplay assessment about their attachment styles. If you’re ‘secure’ as an attachment style – no diagnosis needed! If, however, you’ve come from an abusive or neglectful (even emotional neglect applies here) background – then you’ll likely have an ‘insecure’ attachment style. There are 3 ‘styles’ (or 4 depending on who’s attachment theory you work with) of ‘insecure’ attachment and understanding your child’s style will help with

Avoidant

Ambivalent

Disorganised

If you’re massively interested in learning more, the founding father of attachment theory was John Bowlby, and his foundation was further enhanced by Mary Ainsworth and then again by Mary Main (I’m sourcing this from Wikipedia and a few other scholarly papers I found on the internet ….. hope they have it correct!!!) But I digress………

Armed with the attachment styles (following the Theraplay assessment) – we knew we had one child who presented and trended towards Avoidant and the other trending towards Ambivalent. Whilst it was all well and good to know, we had NO IDEA how to repair this damage let alone prepare a school for their arrival.

Luckily I attended a course on adoptive children in the school setting, run by our local council. It was fantastic. It not only provided me with an excellent document to give to teachers to help them understand behaviours which might present in class, but it also gave me a great grounding on these behaviours myself and some alternative ideas to help me handle them in other social settings!

If your local council/adoptive team don’t offer a course like this one, then please check out PAC Training as they’ve done so in the past and I’m sure it’s a course they will repeat:

http://pac.org.uk/training/workshops-for-adoptive-parents-and-other-permanent-carers/

I thought it might be helpful to summarise the key points on what I learned!

1) Keep information specific for the teachers/staff – only as much as they NEED to know about your child’s past. Only that which is relevant. For example our eldest literally FREEZES when overwhelmed we let them know to keep an eye out. The second term the school had a fire drill and true to form, our eldest froze, but at least forewarned the teachers were able to help!

2) Explain the behaviours you’ve experienced at home, and in social settings and the best ways you’ve found for helping your child over the hurdles, obviously they won’t be able to necessarily handle it the same way, but it might give them some ideas.

3) Warn them that for the first while (in most cases) your child is going to be on their best “pleasing” behaviour and not to be complacent and assume you are an overwrought adoptive parent!!! In our situation it took two terms before the behaviours started to show, as they can’t keep up the façade all the time and of course the more comfortable our children become, the more likely they are to start to let their guard down and then their true, scared, hurt selves start to come through.

4) Finally, if you can, print off this leaflet  created by Essex Post Adoption (pages 4 & 5, and then 6 & 7 are meant to be printed side by side as they are charts) do so. We took in the two middle charts (pages 4 & 5, and 6 & 7) and highlighted ONLY those behaviours which were relevant, and the strategies for coping with them.

Have a read of it yourself you may too find some hints to help with the presenting behaviours!