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Take Time to Appreciate the Smallest Gains

It is easy to focus on the problems in our lives.  They are there in front of us, nagging us and demanding our attention at every turn.  Sometimes, they may seem overwhelming and insurmountable if looked at in the “big picture”.   That is the time to back up and look at the smallest of gains and get perspective.  The amount of time the child has been in your home is important here as I join with other professionals to call it “family age”. A child may be 10 years old but if they have just come to your home from foster care in the last 6 months or a year, their family age may be quite young.  They need time, like your babies to develop trust in your ability to take care of them.  Each met need creates trust, just as it should have done when they were born.

When parenting children, all children, it is so important to remember to take the time to enjoy the gains, the progress that is made along the way.  With children who have experienced breaks in bonding, abuse, neglect, foster care or adoption, each small gain is huge.

Why is that?  It is because small gains are how big gains are created.

Think about teaching your children to say “please” and “thank you”.  You work hard to teach those small skills of socialization by saying “please” when they ask for something and “thank you” when it is given.  They begin to parrot your words in appropriate ways and you think “this is easy”.  Teaching your child to trust you to take care of them is a much harder skill and takes infinite little steps.  The first thing a child may need to learn is to come to you with bumps and bruises.  Many children do not cry out for help or even evidence any distress.  By your going to them and making a big deal, hugging them, kissing their boo boos, putting on a band-aid, you are not spoiling them.  The lesson becomes, “I am there when you fall”.  That trust leads to your child coming to you when they don’t feel good so you can give them medicine, chicken soup, and eventually, cuddling.  Each little piece leads to the next little piece.

The overriding lesson here is that each small gain for our kids is a big one on the road to love and trust.  Don’t gloss over them.  Take them out and look at them from time to time to remind yourself that all good things come in little packages.

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