If you don't buy another book buy this one. For adoptive parents and foster carers, and for professionals working in either field, this is a must. Here the perplexing behaviours that drive us to despair and seriously threaten relationships, are explored with great sensitivity and a depth of understanding that has long been awaited. Caroline Archer draws upon new medical research to illustrate the changes to the brain and development of young people who have endured early trauma, and uses first hand experiences to provide a practical guide to the egg-shell-strewn daily journey with pre-teens and adolescents, All the problems we thought were ours alone – and surely due to our personal mismanagement – are explained here in this clear and well-constructed publication. Easy to read, it tackles with honesty all circumstances from bed-wetting to suicide attempts, lying to exploitation, sexuality to addictions and self-injury to protection of siblings. It also offers reassurance, encouragement and strategies allowing you to recognise and reach out to the child who hurts.
[Reviewed with First Steps] 'The holistic approach makes it particularly relevant to occupational therapists. They will be pleased to see references to neurological development and a mention of the value of sensory integration for some children whose trauma has caused tactile defensiveness or some other sensory problem. However, the majority of the chapters rightly deal with the psychological aspects. The focus on parents and carers does not prevent realistic advice on when to seek help from professionals. A sympathetic understanding of the children's feelings is balanced by a real concern for the needs of carers and the rest of the family. There is a clear recognition that firm boundaries are essential and there is frequent emphasis on positive approaches… I have found “Tykes and Teens” so supportive in my work with children who hurt and their foster or adoptive families that I am recommending it to parents and colleagues alike. I also recommend it to all NAPOT members who are involved in this field.'
Adoption and Fostering
…this is a clear, sensitive and extremely practical handbook which looks at the reasons behind difficult behaviour, especially the effects of early trauma in a child's life, as well as suggesting strategies for dealing with it… This is a must-have book for adopters and foster carers and is also highly recommended for ordinary parents and step-parents whose children hurt for other reasons. If you are only in the early stages of considering adopting or fostering, it may open your eyes to issues you have not considered but try not to let its realism put you off unnecessarily. Not all children who have been through the care system have extreme problems, especially if they are given the sensitive support suggested here.
Ed Abrahamson, Consultant Paediatrician, for Adoption UK Journal
This book follows on logically from the First Steps book and continues the challenging journey through childhood and into adolescence… In essence this is a book about love, and the ability to express it towards the adopted child, despite persistent and often extreme tests of that love. The author uses innovative imagery to explain the effects of emotional trauma early in the adopted child's life which may result in the “scared kid”, the “stuffed kid” and finally the “superkid”. The “looking glass” model is particularly effective at describing the marked perceptual differences that may arise between the child and the parent… A large section of the book is devoted to a review of specific sensitive situations that commonly arise… These range from bedwetting to stealing to self-injury and suicide. No attempt is made to offer all the answers and indeed the author emphasises that only the parent will know what is right for their own particular family and set of circumstances. This is another excellent book which draws on the real experiences of many adoptive parents and their families… For some the solutions suggested will not prove appropriate and for others very different problems will arise. However the basic tenets of the book deserve the widest possible readership amongst all those involved with adoptive children.
The author's basic premise is that all children who have been adopted or placed in long-term care have undergone some form of psychological hurt. She argues that while some children will be more resilient to this hurt than others, many children will need their hurt to be acknowledged by their parents/carers, and be allowed to grieve for their losses in order to move forward to a life of greater well-being and fulfillment. [The book begins] by exploring such issues as bringing a child home, child development and what to do when things “don't seem quite right”. Other issues covered are the effects of trauma on a child, and how to handle specific difficulties that may arise with an adopted child.
Next Steps deals with “tykes and teens”. It looks at... potential hazards, such as addictive behaviour, sexual acting out and drug and alcohol use, all now, arguably, the birth-right of any parent. Of particular use here is a section called “Principles into Practice” where a range of scenarios is proposed with possible outcomes. These could also serve as training material…grounded in hard won experience.