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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Strength and weakness

We had a 2 hour doctor's visit today with an attachment disorder specialist for Kristina. Dr. Melodie had lots of things to say about Kristina. She said that Kristina has lots of strengths: Kristina is aware of pain and that she turns to us to give her kisses when she falls down; the fact that Kristina is affectionate with us is good; that Kristina has empathy for others; that Kristina was patient while we worked with Keith during the visit. Dr. Melodie complimented us saying that we've been able to successfully develop communication between Kristina & ourselves.

We talked about Keith and Dr. Melodie said that he is showing some clear warning signs of attachment issues. She had me hold him like you would an infant and Keith just flipped out. I hadn't realized this about him. She said that daily I should hold him like an infant and look into his face and try to make eye contact. Keith avoided my eyes and was screaming which made it difficult for me to smile and sing to him - which she said I should be doing during this time. It was exhausting, but very informative.

We asked her about our bedtime struggles and she suggested that we rock both children to sleep and then to put them down for bed. I rocked them each (individually) for naptime today and that went...okay. It took 45 minutes with Kristina and 1 hour with Keith - but they both went to sleep. Then it came time for bedtime. Anna had her Christmas program at school so Tyler went with her to that & I attempted my first bedtime routine involving the idea of rocking them to sleep. Kristina took 1 hour and she transferred well from my arms to bed, no problem. Keith - another story. I rocked him for almost 2 full hours. Eyes wide open. Nothing. Not even a hint of fatigue - except from me. Then I had the thought to stop rocking the chair. Instantly he threw a huge fit - and then I figured it out. Keith LOVES movement - he was enjoying the rocking and it was stimulating his mind, so he wasn't getting tired from the rocking at all. In fact, it was keeping his mind focused and alert. Great. So now I'm trying to figure out how to bond with Keith while putting him to bed without rocking...any thoughts?


Lively Luckinbills said...

Maybe a "sleepy" book and just talking in a low soothing voice. My kids fell asleep just sitting in the rocking chair while I rubbed/patted their backs after wind down time (book, prayers, lullaby). Good luck!

Melisa said...

Wow. That is a lot to absorb. He was so snuggly with me, it is hard to picture him as RAD. 3 hours just to put kids to bed. Jill, you are an angel mother. If Calet has a hard time sleeping, I'll rock her for a few minutes and put her in her crib and then lay down next to her for a few more. By then she is usually okay.

Mommo said...

With my first 3 kids we laid next to them in bed and read quiet stories to them.
My question is...does Keith NEED a nap during the day? 4 1/2 is old to still be napping. He may have been used to it in the orphanage when there was not much else going one. Now that he has a home and is busy during the day he has more energy. I would consider cutting out the nap and try your routine at bedtime again. After all...he did let you rock him in the afternoon and he fell asleep.

Colombian Mommy said...

I Totally agree with what Mommo said. My kids stopped napping at 2. My 3 year old occasionally falls asleep in the car and when he does instead of the 7:30 bedtime, he stays awake until 9 or 10 -- an that's with a short 10 minute catnap in the car.

Tami said...

I firmly believe the nap thing depends on the kid. Some kids need more sleep than others. My oldest needed his nap until he started kindergarten, Maddie is down to a one-hour nap and does just fine if she doesn't get it.
Follow Keith's cue. If he needs it I wouldn't give it up just because of his chronological age. Remember, our kids don't 'act' their age - they are emotionally much younger. It may be that they physiologically respond to things at a much younger age as well.
I wouldn't give up on the rocking. It is SO important. After awhile Keith will go from craving that rocking and resonding with stimulation to finding comfort in it.
My oldest, Alek, was ALOT like Keith when we first brought him home. He HATED being held, REFUSED to be held like a baby and could barely stand to sit still in your lap.
I started rocking him, not to the point of sleep, but just for about 30 minutes each night to set up a routine. Over the next few weeks he got much better about being held, and over the course of the next few months got comfortable enough to come to ME looking to be rocked. Eventually he relaxed enough to start getting groggy during rocking time, although I don't think he ever fell asleep.
The key is not to necessarily get him to sleep...its to get him to bond with you and be comfortable, completely at ease with you. Enjoy the time. Don't force it. If he doesn't fall asleep, don't feel like you've failed. You're building a relationship with him...that's whats important. Keep rockin'!

traceylynndel said...

Wow Jill,

I have a lot of ideas for you. for the holding like a baby part, How about after bath time when they are all wrapped up in a towel. We take Katya out of the tub wrap her up and say "be my baby?" She says "yes baby". But just be patient. It takes time for them to build that trust. Do it with Kristina too. For bed time how about laying in his bed with him? Katya likes me to lay next to her and stroke her face softly. I tried whispering quietly to her but that kept her awake. When I stroke her face she is usually out almost immediately. Just keep trying. If one thing doesn't work, try another. Not all kids will respond to the same types of things. Do you guys play dolls? Have Keith hold the baby and see if he makes the connection to you holding him.

Just some ideas.

Keep up the good work.


JKI said...


I have been following your blog and have been so amazed at how Keith has blossomed. I too have a kiddo who gave up her nap at 2. Our son, adopted at 9 months, already gave up his 2nd nap. He slept constantly in the orphanage, now that he's been home 2 months and there is action all around, he is NOT having it. I agree with the person who says rock him as sort of a rest/bonding time instead of with a goal of a nap. We do that still with our daughter with autism who is 5 and she loves it (and never sleeps after). Poor little Keith missed being rocked and loved and held, it is all so new for him. I think the fact that he just loved it and didn't want you to stop is a really positive thing. Hang in there, you are a really great mom!

Kelly S

Angie said...

Hey Jill,

I agree with mommo. He may or may not be ready to give up the nap, but just keep an eye out. If he is ready, let him stay awake and that may help with bedtime being shorter... hopefully MUCH shorter. If he's not ready, don't push him that way too fast. It's nice having that time to yourself.

Also, with my kids, at bedtime and naps, I read them a story, whichever one Josh wants, and then he goes to his bed, and I hold Emily until she's ready to get in her bed. It used to be after she was asleep, but now she has a hard time going to sleep in my arms. I find that the bigger a kid gets, the harder it is to go to sleep while someone is holding them... at least with my own kids.

So, that being said, here's what I would do with the information you've given here. Hold them, read, sing or whatever you like to do while you hold them, to let them know you love them, then send them to bed when they seem ready. I would highly recommend not rocking while you hold them because that does stimulate most kids, making it harder for them to go to sleep. And since you've found that to be true especially for Keith, I would recommend this for him for sure. You can still hold him without the rocking and it's still great bonding time.

I also wouldn't recommend holding them until they are all the way asleep. Especially if they're used to going to sleep on their own. I only say this because that may cause some habits that will be hard and unpleasant to break down the line. Of course, if you're okay with that, then that's great too.

Sorry about the rambling. I hope something of this can be useful to you.

You are amazing!

MoonDog said...

you might want to look into sensory integration therapy. and give him a good sensory diet during the day. When Ethan came home from Russia he was SOOO hypervigilant that any movement ANYWHERE woke him. so if I shifted in my chair in another room he woke up. Ethan rocks himself to sleep sometimes. side to side. he has always done this since he came home. This is not to say I dont/didnt rock him. but his rocking has gotten less over time. its a vestibular input thing. we did some sensory therapy which for the kids is mostly FUN! Ethan has been with us 4 and half years now and has come a long long way. you are only beginning. and remember, this too shall pass..... it was so annoying when people would say that to me, but really and truly it does pass. difficult times get better and then you look back and say "wow! remember when he woudlnt sleep?"

Courtney said...

What about rocking him for bonding when he first wakes up in the morning? I know that doesn't help the bedtime part, but it might help the bonding. ;)