Dealing with Your Emotions

While knowledge will help you understand why your child behaves as she does, you and the rest of your nuclear family will face issues and have feelings that must be considered. If you don't deal with your emotions, they may cause you to become depressed and unable to meet your child's needs. Other family members could be at risk, too.

When the child you love refuses affection, defies your authority, or screams herself to sleep every night, your feelings will be hurt, and you may become angry. You must stay calm and learn to deal with frustration and anger in positive ways. It can be very overwhelming to suddenly be the main caretaker for a child who needs intensive attention and care. You may feel frightened about what outcomes await her or worried that you simply aren't up to the task. Other family members may share the same worries.

Talk about your feelings with your spouse or close family members. Remember that no feeling is wrong — everything you feel in this situation is valid. It is essential that whatever negative feelings begin to develop in stressful situations, you model appropriate ways to express those feelings.

Reducing Your Stress

While you cannot control your child's behavior or people's reactions around you, you can take steps to help your body relax. Experts in life skills (also known as life coaches or motivational speakers) advise you to stop four or five times a day for five minutes at a time. By stopping, they mean that you should sit down and put your feet up, emptying your mind. If you believe in a higher power, spend at least one set of five minutes praying or connecting to that higher power. If you're afraid you'll distract yourself for too long and get more stressed because you think you're falling further behind, set a timer. Experienced adoptive parents recommend the five-minute break and a nap. Try the following stress busters:

  • Take your first break as soon as you get up — set your alarm five minutes early.

  • Depending on how much effort is involved in dressing everyone and readying your family for the day, take your next break right after you arrive at work or return from car pooling.

  • If possible, take a nap when your child is asleep.

  • Take another five minutes after work or when your children are doing homework.

  • Wind down your day by devoting some time to yourself just before bed.

  • Taking the time to de-stress yourself will have positive payoffs for you and your family.

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