All posts by cmsadmin



Creating Affirmations

Affirmations are one of the most powerful ways to help us change the way we feel at any particular moment. Unlike a general statement of “positive attitude,” an effective affirmation is a custom-designed statement that specifically targets your particular negative core beliefs. Since affirmations are, by their very nature, very personal statements, you can create and change your affirmations to suit your present situation and needs.

An effective affirmation has several basic characteristics

  • It is positive
  • It is true
  • It is stated in the now–present tense
  • It is brief and concise
  • It uses active language

Here’s how to create an effective affirmation

  • Identify 2-3 negative beliefs (e.g. I’m stupid, I’m unlovable, and I’m not good enough)
  • Find the words or phrases that are the opposites of the negative beliefs and are true about you (e.g. I’m smart; I’m lovable; and I’m more than good enough)
  • Arrange these words and phrases into a short statement that feels right to you – a statement that “sings” to you (e.g. I am a smart and lovable man who is more than good enough).

You can create affirmations for your general life and affirmations specifically designed for a particular challenge in your life. All you have to do is start with the particular negative beliefs – the negative statements you say about yourself – with regard to the challenge you are facing. Then just do the next two steps above to create the affirmation.

Here are a couple of great resources on the subject

20 Positive Affirmations You Can Use to Inspire Your Life (

An Attitude Of Gratitude Daily Journal: 80 Positive Affirmations +60 Things To Be Grateful For In Life: Books, Red Wheel: 9798530729041: Books

Want to improve your life?

Improve your life

Five Simple Things to Improve Your Life


  1. 10 minutes of meditation

The research is very clear on the benefits of meditative practice to physical and emotional health. One of many apps available towards this end is Headspace. It is a Mindfulness-based meditative approach that is simple and very accessible. The first 10 meditations are free and can be repeated as much as you want. If you subscribe (about $100 per year), you have access to thousands of hours of meditations directed at a vast array of life situations and goals. Meditation and Sleep Made Simple – Headspace

  1. Get 8 hours of sleep

Again, the research on the need for 7-8 hours of sleep is undeniable. Finding ways to rearrange one’s routine to generate more sleep is a very high payoff activity.

  1. Write down 5 things you are grateful for

We are what we spend our energy and time on. By making a habit of purposely noticing what is right with your world; what you are grateful for, we realign how we experience ourselves and our world.
Benefits of Journaling –

  1. Perform an act of kindness

Similar to number 3 above, by purposely performing an act of kindness, we realign and build structure in our brains to see the world and ourselves more positively.

  1. Move your body

Our bodies are made to move. Any increase in the movement of our bodies improves multiple bodily functions.

Improve your life!

Credit: Chelsea Bagias, PsyD.

Panic Attacks

Panic Attacks

Panic Attacks – What Are They?

Panic attacks are a set of symptoms that come on suddenly, putting your body into a “red flag alert” stance. The symptoms build to a peak rapidly, usually in ten minutes or less, although it can feel much longer. The common theme of the feelings and symptoms is one of impending doom and intense fearfulness or nervousness.

What are typical bodily symptoms?
  • racing or pounding heart
  • sweating, flushing, or feeling chilled
  • chest pains or tightness
  • difficulty getting your breath or a sense of smothering or choking
  • dizziness, lightheadedness, tingling, or numbness
  • trembling or shaking
  • nausea or abdominal discomfort
What are typical feelings and thoughts during a panic attack?

The overriding feeling is one of fear. People who have panic attacks say they feel like something awful is going to happen at any moment. They may also feel disconnected to their surroundings. Some people have described it as feeling like they are in a bubble. Others have said that suddenly nothing feels real. They feel out of control and may even fear that they will die. They may also be afraid of “going crazy” or starting to scream or run or do something embarrassing.

Can panic attacks kill me or make me go crazy?

NO! Even though it may feel that way, a panic attack will not give you a heart attack and it will not kill you, and it will not go on forever. And panic attacks are not the beginning of going crazy. They are panic attacks, pure and simple. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates at least 3 million Americans will have panic disorder at some time in their lives.

What causes panic attacks?

Some people seem especially vulnerable to panic attacks. Sometimes anxiety problems, including panic attacks, seem to run in families. Your nervous system may be easily triggered. We also know that chronic stress can contribute to all kinds of problems with anxiety, including panic attacks. According to one theory, in panic disorder, the body’s normal alarm – it’s “fight or flight” reaction, may be triggered unnecessarily. Sometimes the first attack can also be triggered by a change in the body, such as a serious illness or even a medication.

I think I have panic attacks, and I’m worried about what others will think. I’ve started to avoid people.

Starting to avoid people and places is very common for people who have panic attacks. Many times, they have told no one about their experiences. But to get support and help, you must tell someone. Consider talking with your doctor or a family member or friend. You can explain what you have learned about panic attacks.

I think I’m also getting depressed and I’ve started drinking to calm my nerves.

Secondary depression is common in sufferers of panic attacks. Once you get help, the depression may lift. If not, there is good, effective help for your depression as well. Many people start to “self-medicate” when they are feeling bad and don’t know where to turn. Of course, this only adds an additional problem. And drinking or abusing drugs will not stop panic attacks.

What help is there for panic attacks?

It is very important that you see a qualified, experienced professional to treat your panic attacks. The disorder will seldom go away by itself and may in fact worsen. A professional will assess your unique situation and together you will agree on a treatment plan.

For more information on panic attacks, please visit

The Mayo Clinic

Poem – My son moving into his freshman dorm

Graduation capA big step in many families is when children go off to college. This poem is a reflection on my son’s first day at college. He had written a poem regarding looking at the heavens and commanding the stars.

My son moving into his freshman dorm

I watch the stars tonight and listen.
The same stars you command to streak and to speak.
And they are different this night.
They speak of endings and beginnings.
Of doors closing and of millions of others opening.
So many wonderous possibilities.
I struggle for words
To tell you how I feel.
All the clichés apply
Analogies, fallacies… realities:
Leave the nest, passed the test, get no rest,
I remember when…
You were young then…
Pitcher, catcher, homerun hitter.
New school, new friends, new life…
The cycle starts again.
Each time stronger, wiser…
It never ends.
Mostly I feel joy for you
Your excitement splashes on me
And your new room and new life.
I expected sadness for the loss.
For the son gone.
But instead I feel the world so full of new things.
Of possibilities abounding for you…and me.
I feel so much pride
For the wonderful soul you are.
Not for the heights you will reach
But for the hearts you will touch.
And if there is sadness
It is not about loss or Should’ves or Could’ves.
You are perfect the way you are.
No–the sadness comes
When I think of my parents
Who never got to see you become the man you are.
They missed so much:
The scholar, the athlete, the independent soul.
“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time”
I think I am catching on.
Each cycle of life brings its own challenges.
Its own ups and downs.
You’ve help me cherish the path so far.
Paths, passages, potentialities, possibilities.
You help me know that everything is possible.
But life is just right… Just perfect.
Here and now.
Some decry, or sigh, or lie
About the youth they see pass
As their children become.
You show me constantly
That it’s not youth
But love and wisdom
That lasts… and protects
…and comforts and gives us our truth.
Simply by being
You excite, you ignite my soul.
It’s not a struggle, a fight, a flight.
From fear or pain.
But a dance with all things
That quickens or slows… or stops sometimes.
All the dance perfect and necessary
For us here and now.

by: Dr. Christopher Mathe, PhD.

Poem – Accepting


In this moment, I recognize that there is within me a perfect Self; A Self that is not dysfunctional; A Self that is not weak but strong;Not small, but huge;

Not in pain, but in peace; Not scared and alone, but in Grace; I have been limited by my beliefs of weakness, smallness, pain, and fear. At times I wish these parts of me banished; At times I get so weary of the struggle; But I could no more banish these parts of myself than I could turn my back on a hurting child. These parts are my teachers and there is gold to be found. My wounds and fears do not define my limits; But show me the way to all of my Self if I am willing to listen. In this moment, I accept all parts of me. In this moment, Accept the parts that think me small That need my understanding and compassion. And I accept them back as a loving parent.

By: Dr. Christopher Mathe, PhD.

Poem – The Gift At Our Door

Train tracks

The Gift At Our Door

How were we to know that night
            A dark hurting desperation
Came to our door unbidden
            Carrying life and death
            In an angry mixture.
End of the line
            Everybody out!
No stops past here
            Except the last, long one.
You arrive.
            The tears are hot
The mask forgot
            No more robot.
You take the risk.
You face the fear
            And the years they say
You cannot trust
            And depend on anyone.
You reach across that
            Vast valley of doubt
And ask
            For help.
With clarity that hurts
            You find the wounds
You begin the healing
            And the search for
The treasure that’s always been there
With the doubts still lurking
            You persist.
You don’t run, or make excuses
            Or find the reasons
You can’t succeed.
            Your cloak of honor
            Fits well now.
Everyday brings new strength
            And new tears
And acceptance of yourself
            As a worthy and special being
Grows in you eyes,
            And your step.
End of the line?
            For that train, maybe.
The package opened
            The gifts received
Is freashly wrapped
            In hope and promise
And it leaves on a new train
            Heading for the horizon.

How to Pick a Counselor or Therapist

How to pick a counselor or therapist

The most important thing about choosing a counselor or therapist is to find a situation where you feel comfortable, safe, and where there is potential for trust. Consistently the most important criteria for successful therapy is the fit between the therapist and client. When you meet with someone that you “click with” you are more able to be honest with yourself and it’s much easier to talk about any topic.

Finding the right fit involves two separate parts. One is looking for characteristics in the therapist that you feel will be a good match for you. The second is looking at yourself and how you want to go about treatment at this moment in your life.

Characteristics in the counselor or therapist

You should feel comfortable asking the counselor about things that are important to you in working on your goals. These can include:

  • Does the therapist have experience dealing with issues similar to the ones for which you want to enter treatment (diagnosis, ethnicity, financial)?
  • What does the counselor believe about potential outcomes of your current situation (i.e. cure, recovery, happier life, medication forever)?
  • What other areas of life does the therapist think may help to improve things?
  • Does the counselor offer any information on local resources (i.e. free relaxation classes, helpful self-improvement ideas, nutrition referrals)?
  • Does your therapist give homework or other tools to use between sessions?
  • Does the counselor focus on happiness and increasing joy as well as the negative topics?

Some views on psychological treatment believe it is a mistake for the therapist to share personal information with a client. But you as a client can always judge the therapist by how they explain this to you and whether in your gut you get a good feeling from the therapist. The thing to remember is that even if the counselor does not answer your question completely, you learn a lot about the person by the way they respond to you.

What do you want out of treatment?

Most people start therapy because they want to feel better about something in their life. So knowing how you want your counselor to treat you may be the last thing on your mind. But the more you think about this idea the more you will start to see how it reflects the way you want others to treat you in general. Some ideas include:

  • Recognize how much you want to be listened to and how much you want the counselor to engage in the talking.
  • Ask yourself if you want the therapist to be like a caring parent or more direct and blunt.
  • Would you feel ignored if the counselor didn’t suggest ways of solving your problem?
  • Do you want a therapist who talks about their own involvement with similar experience as yours or who keeps those thing out of the talk so they give you all of their attention?
  • Most importantly- If you find a counselor who doesn’t meet your interests, could they still help you if you stick it out a little longer?

Always recognize that you can change topics, goals, or therapists as your life changes too. While it does take a while to build trust and feel comfortable talking about your life to someone, remember that therapy and counseling exists to help you with what you want to work on.

Overall remember that you are paying for a service. Whether you pay out of pocket or your insurance covers your bill, you deserve to be treated with the utmost respect, and to be fully involved in your treatment. If you feel that this is not happening please bring it up with your therapist. First it may help seeing the problem from a different angle, second it might resolve the problem all together, and third why not get some extra practice working out problems with people. Remember that you are choosing someone to be in your life for a while to help you get where you want to be.

The therapist or counselor is trained to help point out certain things about your personality and life situation, but you are always the ultimate expert on you. No matter what has happened in your life and no matter what will come, you deserve to have the best treatment you can find. So be involved and get ready to do some work so you can start enjoying life again.


(Chelsea Bagias, PsyD.)

Aspergers Disorder Information

Autism and Aspergers

Aspergers Disorder Information

American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry Factsheet

Asperger’s Disorder is the term for a specific type of pervasive developmental disorder that is characterized by problems in the development of social skills and behavior. In the past, many children with Asperger’s Disorder were diagnosed as having autism, another of the pervasive developmental disorders, or other disorders. While autism and Asperger’s have certain similarities, there are also important differences. For this reason, children suspected of having these conditions require careful evaluation.

In general, a child with Asperger’s Disorder functions at a higher level than the typical child with autism. For example, many children with Asperger’s Disorder have normal intelligence. While most children with autism fail to develop language or have language delays, children with Asperger’s Disorder are usually using words by the age of two, although their speech patterns may be somewhat odd.

Most children with Asperger’s Disorder have difficulty interacting with their peers. They tend to be loners and may display eccentric behaviors. A child with Asperger’s, for example, may spend hours each day preoccupied with counting cars passing on the street or watching only the weather channel on television. Coordination difficulties are also common with this disorder. These children often have special educational needs.

Although the cause of Asperger’s Disorder is not yet known, current research suggests that a tendency toward the condition may run in families. Children with Asperger’s Disorder are also at risk for other psychiatric problems including depression, attention deficit disorder, schizophrenia, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

Child and adolescent psychiatrists have the training and expertise to evaluate pervasive developmental disorders like autism and Asperger’s Disorder. They can also work with families to design appropriate and effective treatment programs. Currently, the most effective treatment involves a combination of psychotherapy, special education, behavior modification, and support for families. Some children with Asperger’s Disorder will also benefit from medication.

Internet Addiction

Internet Addiction Test

Internet addiction

This internet addiction test was designed by Dr. Kimberly Young, author of Caught In The Net, one of the first books on internet addiction. She has graciously allowed us to reprint it here. For more information, visit her website,

How do you know if you’re already addicted or rapidly tumbling toward trouble? Everyone’s situation is different, and it’s not simply a matter of time spent online. Some people indicate they are addicted to only twenty hours of Internet use, while others who spent forty hours online insist it is not a problem to them. It’s more important to measure the damage your Internet use causes in your life. What conflicts have emerged in family, relationships, work, or school?

Let’s find out. Parts of the following guide are contained in my new book, Caught in the Net. This is a simple exercise to help you in two ways: (1) If you already know or strongly believe you are addicted to the Internet, this guide will assist you in identifying the areas in your life most impacted by your excessive Net use; and (2) If you’re not sure whether you’re addicted or not, this will help determine the answer and begin to assess the damage done. Remember when answering, only consider the time you spent online for non-academic or non-job related purposes.

Take the test

To assess your level of addiction, answer the following questions using this scale:

1 = Rarely.
2 = Occasionally.
3 = Frequently.
4 = Often.
5 = Always.

    1. How often do you find that you stay online longer than you intended?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    2. How often do you neglect household chores to spend more time online?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    3. How often do you prefer the excitement of the Internet to intimacy with your partner?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    4. How often do you form new relationships with fellow online users?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    5. How often do others in your life complain to you about the amount of time you spend online?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    6. How often do your grades or school work suffer because of the amount of time you spend online?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    7. How often do you check your e-mail before something else that you need to do?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 =Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    8. How often does your job performance or productivity suffer because of the Internet?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    9. How often do you become defensive or secretive when anyone asks you what you do online?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    10. How often do you block out disturbing thoughts about your life with soothing thoughts of the Internet?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    11. How often do you find yourself anticipating when you will go online again?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    12. How often do you fear that life without the Internet would be boring, empty, and joyless?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    13. How often do you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone bothers you while you are online?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    14. How often do you lose sleep due to late-night log-ins?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    15. How often do you feel preoccupied with the Internet when off-line, or fantasize about being online?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    16. How often do you find yourself saying “just a few more minutes” when online?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    17. How often do you try to cut down the amount of time you spend on-line and fail?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    18. How often do you try to hide how long you’ve been on-line?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    19. How often do you choose to spend more time on-line over going out with others?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply

    20. How often do you feel depressed, moody, or nervous when you are off-line, which goes away once you are back on-line?
    1 = Rarely
    2 = Occasionally
    3 = Frequently
    4 = Often
    5 = Always
    Does Not Apply


    After you’ve answered all the questions, add the numbers you selected for each response to obtain a final score. The higher your score, the greater your level of addiction and the problems your Internet usage causes. Here’s a general scale to help measure your score:

    20 – 49 points: You are an average online user. You may surf the Web a bit too long at times, but you have control over your usage.

    50 -79 points: You are experiencing occasional or frequent problems because of the Internet. You should consider their full impact on your life.

    80 – 100 points: Your Internet usage is causing significant problems in your life. You should evaluate the impact of the Internet on your life and address the problems directly caused by your Internet usage.




Top Ten Tips for the First Year of Placement


By Deborah Gray, MSW, MPA

Parents passionately want to succeed in raising emotionally healthy children. They also want to enjoy their little ones. When their children arrive later in infancy or childhood, most parents are well-aware that they are doing more careful parenting. They are nurturing not only to build a relationship but to help mitigate any impact of losses or maltreatment.

What are reasonable things for parents to concentrate on during the first year home? How can parents do their best to enjoy their children? They do not want the pleasures of parenting their children dimmed by a chorus of cautions. On the other hand, they do want to make that first year a great start.

Here are my TOP TEN hits for a great start to your relationship with your baby or child.

  1. Spend ample time in nurturing activities

The most significant process of the first year home is creating a trusting relationship. Intentional and ample nurturing promotes this goal. Restrict your hours away from the little one.

Do not leave your child for overnight trips for this first year.

Meet your little one’s needs in an especially sensitive manner. Feed on demand.

Respond quickly to fussing. Allow the toddler or child to regress, bottle-feeding, rocking to sleep, lap sitting, and being carried. Let your child experience you as a safe person who is sensitively meeting her needs. Play little games that promote eye contact, like peekaboo, pony ride, and hide-and-seek. Make positive associations between yourself and food.

Rather than children becoming more dependent through this extra nurturing, they instead become trusting. Anxious people do not know who they can trust to help them.

More secure individuals understand that they do not have to be perfect and that they can rely on significant others. Children who do not learn to depend on others tend to be anxious or emotionally constricted. Their independence is a false one, meaning that they do not trust others and can only rely on themselves. The child who has learned a healthy dependence is more secure in trying new things and venturing out. She always has a safe, home base to come back to—you!

  1. Teach children to play with you

Many little ones have missed the joys of play. Act as an amplifier, teaching toddlers and children the pleasure of play. Most children have missed the experience of having parents express joy as they played. Because of this, their reward centers were not stimulated. This restricted the association of exploration and play with pleasure.

Set aside at least thirty minutes a day for play with your children. Younger children may want this in segments. Do not hesitate to use voice tones and expressions that are usually meant for infants and younger children.

If your child can already play, then continue to build your relationship through play.

Shared enjoyment cements relationships. Make your family one that develops a pattern of having fun. Throughout life having fun as a family builds self-esteem.

While some children take off in play, others cannot stay engaged for long. Continue to stretch the more tentative child, engaging her in mutually enjoyable activities.

Look for different sensory modalities that might feel safer or more interesting. For example, a boy who was afraid to play outdoors began to use sidewalk chalk with his mother, even though the grass seemed overwhelming. Gradually a ball was used on the sidewalk, and then onto the grass. Take things in steps if children are wary.

  1. Talk to your child

Parents of infants use exaggerated voice tones to emphasize important concepts. Their amplifier system helps children with attention to the most important parts of the whole environment. After children move into the preschool age, some of this cheerleader amplification diminishes. Continue to use this brighter emotional tone with your child as she understands your shared world—even if she is not an infant.

Explain things to him, even though you might think that the meaning of what you are doing is obvious. Not only are you conveying information to him, but you are also revealing your view of the world to him. Your voice tones guide him to better understand the context. Be sure to use your fingers and gestures to point out important things to him. This helps him to both attend to and understand the meaning of the context around him. Early language not only teaches us words, but a way of understanding our world through the subjects selected for attention and their associated intonations, expressions, and gestures.

Most of us have an internal dialogue going on during the day. (Yes, we are actually talking to ourselves.) Simply make some of this internal language external. This is a typical activity for parents of infants. However, it tends to diminish as children get older. Since children have missed this early activity, parents should feel free to describe things as they would to an infant.

  1. When toddlers or older children have behavior problems, use your body to stop them

Be gentle but be consistently and predictably competent in stopping negative behaviors.

Do not use over the shoulder commands or across the room reminders. Stay within arm’s reach of the child, moving their hands, bodies, feet, to where you want them to go.

Never tolerate hitting, kicking, or hurting. Some parents allow a child a painful exploration of the parents’ faces. This is teaching that will have to be undone later.

Gently move their bodies to where you want them to be. For example, if your little one is reaching for an item, move the child or the item. Use the voice for a backup. Do not remind or repeat several times. Instead, describe in a pleasant manner how precious or pretty the item appears to you—as you move your child. Teach boundaries of respect from the beginning.

Obviously, most parents will not be getting much done except parenting when their child is awake. Remind yourself that your primary job is parenting when your child is awake.

  1. Get enough sleep, good food, and exercise to stay in a good mood

Little ones who have been moved and/or neglected tend to be irritable, fussy, and hard to soothe. Parents use their own positive, well-regulated moods to help calm and engage these little ones. Your own emotional stability will help to steady your child’s moods. A depressed parent struggles to form a positive, secure attachment with her baby or child.

Depression makes the parent emotionally less available. The parent who is tired, eating junk food, and inert by day’s end does not give a child a competent source of emotional regulation. Parents who find that their moods are slipping, even with good self-care, should see about counseling and/or an antidepressant. It is simply too hard to do this essential, nurturing parenting while being depressed.

Model respect for yourself by taking time for showers, good meals, and sleep.

  1. Be part of an adoption support group

The relationships between families are invaluable. The relationships can be emotional lifelines on hard days. If possible, find a mentor who is positive, and who likes you and your child. Ask her to be part of your circle of support. We all need to feel understood and authentically accepted. A mentor who can provide that sense of nurture for the parent helps the parent to be a good nurturer. The mentor relationship provides a sense of being heard and accepted, and tips and information. Parents are working harder emotionally when parenting a baby or child who has lived through uneven parenting.

Parents need someone who cares for them. Sometimes this can be mutual support, and sometimes one-to-one.

  1. Keep a calm, but interesting home

Match the amount of stimulation in the home to the amount that is within the child’s ability to tolerate it. Many children have been massively understimulated before they came to their parents. Neglect massively under stimulates children. They do not build neurology to process as much sensory stimulation. After adoption, their worlds can suddenly be overwhelming. Things are too bright, too loud, move too much, and tilt too much.

Slow things down, buffering your baby or child to the extent that they can process the information coming their way. Often children who are overwhelmed by noise will begin shouting, or those overstimulated by too much movement will begin running with arms like windmills.

Layout predictable, consistent events for the day. Some children find the movement of the car to be disorienting. If your child is having difficulties, try a couple of days limiting the car, determining whether this makes a difference.

  1. Explain to children the basics of your relationships as they gain language

For example, say A mother’s job is to love you. I will always come back home to you when I leave in the car to go shopping. You will live with me until you are as big as I am. I will not let anybody hurt you. I will never hurt you. We will always have enough food.

One mother told me of her son’s relief and better behavior when she told him that she would never allow others to hurt him. Why didn’t I think to tell him the first year? She questioned. He was afraid every time we went to the mall. He has been thinking for two years that just anyone could haul off and hit him.

Another parent told me of the melting smile that her daughter gave her when she said that a mother’s job was to love her child.

I just assumed that she knew that. But she didn’t. She looked at my face much more after that.

  1. Do watch for signs of an exclusive attachment by the end of the first year

Children should be seeking out their parents for affection and play. They should be showing off for positive attention. They should prefer being with their parent. They should show some excitement about time together. When hurt or distressed, the child should seek out the parent. In a secure attachment, the child will calm with the parent and accept soothing.

Trauma and traumatic grief are the common culprits when children are remaining wary, fearful, and controlling of their parents. Signs of trauma with younger children include regular night terrors, dissociation (child shuts off emotionally and stares away), scratching, biting, extreme moods, freezing in place, and destructiveness. Parents who see these symptoms should be finding a mental health counselor to help their children. If the child is under the age of three, the parent is given special parenting advice. Usually, therapy with an experienced child therapist can begin not long after the age of three.

Do not have an artificial timeline fixed in a year, for the preschooler or older child. Consider the year marker as the time it takes to really get to know your child—not to iron out any behavioral irregularities.

  1. Enter your little one’s space carefully and positively

This often means getting low and looking up for eye contact. It means trying hard and trying patiently for a longer time. You are the one who has the responsibility of engaging your child positively. Do not use punitive techniques to try to build relationships. After all, no one wants to attach to a mean person. Instead, be strong, dependable, available, and kind. Veer away from advice that is strong, controlling, and mean in tone. Sensitive and kind parents gradually build empathy and security in their relationships with their children. That process takes time and the type of parenting that caused you to want to be a parent in the first place!

Maintain a sane schedule as you move into year two. Many parents decide that the first year is the marker until they can re-enter a normal schedule. Among family therapists, there is national concern about the taxing schedule that Americans are considering normal. Resist this widespread but unhealthy pace. Continue to parent with margins of time that allow for sensitivity, with margins of emotional energy that allow for appreciation of those around you. Model a healthy, emotionally fulfilling lifestyle for your child.