Developing New Eating Habits
Considering what your child’s life was like in an institution, its only natural that adopted children at first are tempted to eat huge amounts of food so let them!
Learning to trust the parents to always provide enough for them is a powerful part of the attachment process. In addition, its healthy for children to learn that they can stop eating when they are full, and trust that more food will be available when they need it later.
Older children might hide or hoard food an adaptive behavior learned in an environment where there was never enough food. You can help your child overcome this by leaving healthy, safe and not-too-messy snacks readily available and visible to your child. By showing your child that whenever he or she needs food you will provide it, you are also providing the help your child needs to become attached to you.
If your child struggles with eating, there could be two causes. First, it could be motor coordination problems resulting from the unpleasant feeding practices he experienced in the orphanage. Or second, the child may struggle with food because of a sensory aversion. To overcome this, start with whatever the child will eat or drink and gradually work up in texture and variety. Once they experience warm and nurturing feeding practices, most children begin to expand the variety and volume of their food intake.
If your child struggles with eating for more than a few weeks, consult a feeding therapist.
Developing New Sleeping Habits
To understand why your child might have problems sleeping, think again about life in an orphanage. Until he or she came into your home, your child probably never experienced sleeping alone in a room or in the dark.
Anxieties are often more intense when a child is tired, and considering that your child’s life has just changed abruptly, you’ll need to provide love and patience to help them adjust. The words, Whenever you need me (or us), well be there, can be helpful. If your child sleeps better with you in the same room, feel free to do so. A mattress on the floor of the child’s room might help. As your child becomes more and more secure in their attachment to you, you’ll be able to gradually wean yourself out of bedtime and sleeping routines.
The goal is to provide as much support as your child needs, but as little as he or she lets you get away with. Eventually, you’ll be able to have a pleasant bedtime routine and a restful sleep for everyone.
Adapted from the International Adoption Health Services of Western Pennsylvania, Pediatric Alliance, PC