The Connected Child was recommended to us more than once as the go-to book for foster care and adoption. And rightfully so.
It teaches invaluable dos and don’ts that love and empathy can rarely discover on their own. Kids can’t always tell you what they need. This book gives you a detective’s toolkit and a slew of helpful hints to help you figure it out.
One of the principles the authors come back to again and again is the idea of “felt safety.” Not difficult to define…it’s when kids aren’t just safe, but they know they are safe. They feel safe.
The difference between being safe and feeling safe can be dramatic. And have dramatic results.
Nick, our five-year old foster son, panicked at bedtime. He was scared. Of tornados when it wasn’t stormy and of bad guys when nobody was around.
He was safe. But he didn’t feel safe. And he would scream or cry to let us know.
I have no doubt the author Karyn Purvis would have known just how to comfort him. But we didn’t. What we did know was to listen, empathize and get creative.
We let him sleep with one of our phones showing a map of St Louis so he could watch for storms coming. It was on the navigation map rather than the dopplar, but neither Nick nor his feelings knew.
We told him about Jonathan’s invisible sword and my invisible shield to ward off wrongdoers. He was a little bummed he couldn’t have one, but he liked knowing their was some heroic gear protecting him.
And finally when he was scared, we snuggled with him and asked him to name the things that kept him safe. The locks on the doors. The locks on the windows. The alarm system. Jonathan. Me. And all the invisible weapons.