Attachment and Literacy in Internationally Adopted Children: Age 0-6


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A resource for parents of internationally adopted children: age 0-6

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  • I can say from experience I only spoke Russian when I came to America when I was three. By the start of PreK I only spoke English. My parents only regret is not exposing and keeping my Russian, now looking back they wish they had.
  • Attachment and Literacy in Internationally Adopted Children: Age 0-6

    1. 1. Attachment and Literacy Development for Internationally Adopted Children Ages 0-6 Years Allacyn Rowe Child Development and Family Studies West Virginia University
    2. 2. Table of Contents  Important Note  What is Attachment?  Types of Attachment Security  Signs of Attachment Disorders  8 Tools of Literacy  Bonding  0-1  2-3  4-6  Language  Benefits of Bilingualism  Talking To Children About Adoption  Helpful Links  Work Cited You can click through any part of the power point or jump directly to a page by clicking on the topic. To return to the table of contents click on the link provided at the bottom of each slide.
    3. 3. Important Note All children are different and depending on a child‟s background or situation every child is going to come with different needs. It would be impossible to asses every child on an individual basis, however this is a broad overview of attachment difficulties and techniques for internationally adopted children. It is important to be sensitive to each child's individual background that may include, but not limited to, abuse (physical, emotional, or sexual), neglect, abandonment, and/or institutional care. Back to Table of Contents
    4. 4. What is Attachment? (pg.1)  Attachment is not something that happens, it is a state of being. Everyone is attached, however depending on the circumstances, this could be a secure or insecure attachment.  All children, adopted or biological, form attachments, however children that have had unstable relationships are more likely to be insecurely attached.  Parents should be aware of child's background, home life and routine before the adoption to gage where their child is at.  Ie. A child who was in institutionalized care may have been “trained” to go to bed without a fuss. When a child goes to bed, it may reflect the training they had verses actual secure attachment during bed time routines. Back to Table of Contents (Riley, San Juan, Klinkner&Ramminger, 2008) (Mikkelson)
    5. 5. What is Attachment? (pg.2)  Attachment security is an ongoing process and can change depending on the level of care and responsiveness given.  Eirk Erikson was the first to touch on attachment through the importance of trust. Infants trust in their parents and mistrust in strangers. Erickson‟s theory was later expanded by John Bowlby.  Bowlby sought to look at the parent-child relationship, how it developed, and why it was important. He defined this as the „attachment- relationship‟ and studied the „attachment behavior‟s that result from that behavior.  These behaviors include crying, cooing, or reaching for a caregiver. Through internal working models, infants can soon learn the reactions of the caregivers and how to elicit a reaction again. (Gross, 2010) Back to Table of Contents
    6. 6. Types of Attachment Security (pg.1)  Secure  Parents respond quickly and effectively to infants cues  Infants can trust the reaction of parents  Baby uses parent as a secure base for exploring  Baby becomes distressed when separated  Babies are happy and easily soothed after reunion  Insecure – Avoidant (Type A) & Insecure – Resistant/Ambivalent (Type C  Infants are unable to predict the mood or actions of their caregiver and are unsure of how to respond.  Infants may be angry or upset upon mothers re-entry to the room or seem to not care at all.  This imbalance may be due to over stimulation or a lack of stimulation at all Back to Table of Contents
    7. 7. Types of Attachment Security (pg.2)  Disorganized/Disoriented (Type D)  Infants are unsure of how to respond, and unlike insecure- resistant, infants respond with a variety of reactions.  This usually arises in high stress atmospheres like low income, teen, or single mother households. Back to Table of Contents
    8. 8. Signs of Attachment Disorders(Taken from the Mayo Clinic online website) In Infancy  Withdrawn, sad and listless appearance  Failure to smile  Lack of the normal tendency to follow others in the room with the eyes  Failure to reach out when picked up  No interest in playing peekaboo or other interactive games  No interest in playing with toys  Engaging in self-soothing behavior, such as rocking or self-stroking  Calm when left alone Toddler +  Withdrawing from others  Avoiding or dismissing comforting comments or gestures  Acting aggressively toward peers  Watching others closely but not engaging in social interaction  Failing to ask for support or assistance  Obvious and consistent awkwardness or discomfort  Masking feelings of anger or distress Back to Table of Contents(Mayo Clinic Staff, 2011)
    9. 9. 8 Tools of Literacy  Nurture relationships  Adults valuing and modeling the importance of literacy  Exposing and providing opportunities to explore the world  Positive experiences with books, stories, and reading  Listening and talking  Listening to rhymes, rhythms, and songs  Exposing symbols and explaining meaning  Providing and experiencing print and writing Back to Table of Contents (Knapp-Philo, Notari-Syverson, &Stice 2005)
    10. 10. Bonding  Bonding with children is not a science and many techniques are already activities one would normally do with a child.  While some parents instantly connect with their child, others are waiting to fall in love with their child and/or fear their child may never love them.  Those feelings are normal and okay, it might take time but it WILL happen.  A child who has had an unstable background may be wary to trust new adults in their lives.  The following slides are different activities and techniques that will help form that secure attachment with your child depending on the age of their adoption. Back to Table of Contents
    11. 11. Bonding ages 0-1  Holding your baby  Other countries have different practices and beliefs on childrearing. If a baby is uncomfortable being held, try looking up how the baby might have been held in their home country  Make direct eye contact with your baby  Feed your baby  Talk, sing, and make direct eye contact during feedings  Sing, read, and talk to your baby  Respond to your baby‟s verbal and nonverbal expressions  If your baby babbles, respond back  Responding to your baby‟s cries  This shows baby that when they are distressed you will be there for them and they can learn to expect you Back to Table of Contents
    12. 12. Bonding ages 2-3  Reading to your child  Cuddle your child  Tell child your love them  Take your child on errands with you  When ever it is possible to take child with you, do.  Establish hello and goodbye routines  If you must leave your child establish a special routine for partings and greetings  Feed your child  Even if they are old enough to self-feed, feed them anyways. This shows that you are there to care and take care of them Back to Table of Contents
    13. 13. Bonding ages 4-6 pg. 1 *Important note: As children get older their past is more likely to affect their behavior. Parents and caregivers need to be extra sensitive to previous events/ living conditions  Be sensitive to your child‟s home country‟s belief on making eye contact  Take your child on errands with you  Read, talk, and listen to your child  Establish goodbye and bedtime routines  Dress your child or pick out their clothes  Even if a child is old enough to perform this task alone, children may feel overwhelmed with too many choices. Back to Table of Contents
    14. 14. Bonding ages 4-6 pg.2  Tell your child you love them  Hug your child  Be sensitive to child's comfort level on direct touch  Brush your child‟s hair  This is a form of safe touching  Lotion your child‟s hands or feet  This could be especially helpful for children of a different race (particularly dark skinned children).  This is a form of safe touching Back to Table of Contents *Note: if a child is at any point uncomfortable with any form of touch do not force it. Write down the encounter and speak with physiologist or pediatrician next visit ("Bonding," 2008)
    15. 15. Language (pg.1)  The first few years of life are a critical period of language development.  Babies brains are able to adapt to any language but as they grow their brains start to only differentiate and recognize the main language spoken.  Parents may wonder if there child will continue to speak their home language after they enter a English enriched environment.  The answer to that is no. Language is a “use it or lose it” process. If a child is not exposed to their home language frequently they may lose the ability to speak or understand that language all together  On the flip side a child will pick up the language (most likely English) very quickly. Back to Table of Contents
    16. 16. Language (pg.2)  To help a child acclimate to the new environment, it may be helpful to have a translator present before, during, and upon arrival in America.  While transitioning from one language to another it is common for children to “cross over languages” (referred to as code-switching) when they are still learning the names for different objects.  Labeling different objects in the home with pictures will help all children in the home ( biological, adopted, English speaking or not) learn the names for those objects  Consider adding the child's home language equivalent (if possible) as well. (Guttierrez-Clellen, 1999; Kohnert et al., 2005) Back to Table of Contents
    17. 17. Language (pg. 3)  Reading and talking to your child is a great way for them to pick up the language  Asking them questions to help expand on their thoughts or help them come up with the words they are trying to think of  Guided participation, even if they are older, helps them learn the names of different things they are looking at.  This could be done at the store, in the car, really anytime they are unsure of the words  Remember to be patient and give them time to think and respond. Back to Table of Contents
    18. 18. Benefits of Bilingualism (pg.1) Some parents may want their child to only speak English for different reasons. Maybe they fear their child will not acclimate into American culture or may be picked on for being different, but there are many benefits to being bilingual.  These benefits help children (according to “Infant and Toddler Language and Literacy Course Module 4: Listening and Talking”)  maintain their connections with multiple cultural and linguistic communities.  feel at ease with diverse communication styles and social rules.  develop skills that help them focus their attention on relevant information. (Bialystok, 2001; Hakuta, & Pease-Alvarez, 1992; Wong-Fillmore, 1991) Back to Table of Contents
    19. 19. Benefits of Bilingualism (pg.2)  However, in order to maintain their home language they need to exposed to that language as well. They will not use their home language when they learn that others expect them to use English  Consider getting books and music in your child‟s home language (if possible) as well as in English  Consider learning your child's home language while they learn English  Consider hiring a tutor or find a friend that can use their home language with them Back to Table of Contents
    20. 20. Talking to Children about Adoption (pg.1) This is a resource for parents who might be wary to talk to their children about their adoption in fear of how their child might react and/or if they are not sure how to bring up the subject or what to say.  Every parent should gage what developmental stage their child is on when deciding when, what, and how much to say.  It is important to be honest, but depending on their age/developmental level, the whole truth does not have to come all at once. Back to Table of Contents(Russell, 2000)
    21. 21. Talking to Children about Adoption (pg.2)  Some parents may rely on their children to ask them questions, however, even though it is important to leave the door open, it may not be best to solely rely on children to bring up the topic.  Some parents chose the “ripple-stone effect” by throwing out small comments or questions to gage their child‟s interest in talking about the subject and go from there.  If a child is not interested in talking about the subject, it is better not to force it, but to wait and gage their interest at another time Back to Table of Contents(Russell, 2000)
    22. 22. Talking to Children about Adoption (pg.3)  If your child is older when you adopt them, talk to them about their past experiences and what that means.  Don‟t negate their former life. They might be new to your family but that does not mean their life “started over”  Let your child grieve their loss. Even if they came from a rough home or a terrible situation, acknowledge that and acknowledge they have losses.  Read to your child  There are a lot of different children‟s books about different kinds of adoption stories. Pick stories that best fit your family (aka adopted children of a different race or with homosexual parents or foster care-to-adoption, ect) Back to Table of Contents(Paddock, 2011)
    23. 23. Helpful Links     adoption.php  resources/langdev.html Back to Table of Contents
    24. 24. Work Cited (pg.1)  Bialystok, E. (2001). Bilingualism in development: Language, literacy and cognition. New York: Cambridge University Press.  Bonding [Web log message]. (2008, April 28). Retrieved from  Gross, D. (2011). Infancy: Development from birth to age 3. (2nd ed., pp. 279-280). Boston, MA: Pearson.  Gutierrez-Clellen, V. (1999). Language choice in intervention with bilingual children. AmericanJournal of Speech-Language Pathology, 8, 291–302  Hakuta, K., & Pease-Alvarez, L. (1992). Enriching our views of bilingualism and bilingual education. Educational Researcher, 21, 4–6.  Knapp-Philo, J., Notari-Syverson, A., &Stice, K. (2005). Tools of literacy for infants and toddlers. In E. Horn & H. Jones (Eds.). Young Exceptional Children monograph Series: Supporting early literacy development in young children. Young Exceptional Children Monograph Series, 7, 43- 58.  Kohnert, K., Yim, D., Nett, K., Kan, P. F., & Duran, L. (2005). Intervention with linguisticallydiverse preschool children: A focus on developing home languages(s). Language,Speech and Hearing Services in Schools, 36, 251–263. Back to Table of Contents
    25. 25. Work Cited (pg.2)  Mayo Clinic Staff. (2011, July 6). Diseases and conditions: Reactive attachment disorder. Retrieved from disorder/basics/symptoms/con-20032126  Mikkelson, K. (n.d.). All through the night: Parents and experts weigh in on the best ways to get our kids to sleep. Retrieved from  Paddock, D. (2011, 01 01). Grief and loss issues for adopted children: Caring adults can make all the difference in an adoptees life. Retrieved from  Riley, D., San Juan, R. R., Klinkner, J., &Ramminger, A. (2008). Social & emotional development: Connecting science and practice in early childhood settings. (1st ed., pp. 5-26). St. Paul, MN: Red Leaf Press.  Russell, B. (2000). Talking to kids about adoption: Is it what you say, how early you say it, or how often you say it that matters most to your child?. Adoptive Families, Retrieved from  Wong-Fillmore, L. (1991). When learning a second language means losing the first. EarlyChildhood Research Quarterly, 6, 232–346. Back to Table of Contents