Nancy Rutherford
Nancy Rutherford asks:

How do I meet the emotional needs of a 6 yr old girl who's mother is incarcerated for 2nd offence Felony Child Neglect now that I have custody?

In Topics: Self esteem and identity, Anxiety, Friendships and peer relationships
> 60 days ago



Sep 8, 2011
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What the Expert Says:

I can tell that you are a caring person who already has what you need to connect with this little girl... that would be your warm heart and your willingness to give her a home. You don't say how well you know this child but when children have been traumatized the best thing you can do for them is give them the stability of a loving environment and a calm and dependable adult who watches over them. Little by little, she will learn to trust you and know that with you, she is safe. Let her take the lead in terms of what she needs. Listen with an open heart and an open mind. Know that she is wounded and at times she may not appreciate the closeness you offer. Again, let her take the lead but also be clear with her "I love you and I'm going to take care of you." Do NOT talk about her mother in negative terms... answer any questions she asks about her mom in a calm honest way. To the question: "When is my mommy coming back to get me?" You might answer: "I don't know, but I'm sure she's thinking about you. And while you're with me, I will keep you safe." Talk with the girl's teacher and let her know what the situation is. If there's a school counselor, use that resource as well. Do not hesitate to plug into parenting resources wherever you find them in your community or online. Thank you for what you're doing for this child. She's so fortunate to have you in her life. I strongly recommend the work of Dr. Karyn Purvis whose book The Connected Child is an excellent resource for adoptive and foster parents who've opened their hearts to children from "hard places."
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