I shall be called by a new name, embraced by a fresh pair of arms,
but I shall come and go,the eternal me.
Rabindranath Tagore 1861-1941
Children in foster care are transient. They can be moved at any time and for any or no reason. As a result, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to feel a sense of stability or belonging. If the child is put up [put up sounds like someone hanging a picture or making pickles] for adoption, chances are their last name will be changed. And depending on the age of the child, their first name may be changed as well.
How do you think that child must feel? A name helps to give a child a sense of self; an identity; a connection. It is a complex and difficult decision; one that is fraught with ramifications that affect both the child and the adoptive parents for a lifetime. Of course the adoptive parents want their adopted child to feel included, part of the family and settled. The child wants all of these things as well. However, the older the child is when adopted, the more connected to and defined by their name they have become. Changing a child's name is a major decision and should not be made lightly.
The following story illustrates what can happen when a child who is 10 years old and has their name changed. The child had been in and out of 5 or 6 foster homes and finally went to what was to be their forever home. Through the first 10 years of life, the child was called by one first and last name. Even though the child felt no sense of security, grounding or permanence, one of the few constants had been their name. Now the child was going to another placement, supposedly a forever home. The child was skeptical at best. The first thing the new family did was change the child's first and last names. How confusing and scary for the child. The child was now in an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people and being called by a name that had no meaning or connection to who they were. The child felt lost and demoralized. Having a new name must have meant the old one was no good - just more confirmation of what they believed about themselves. They were no good. The "eternal me" was lost. It would take many, many years for the child to realize that maybe, just maybe, the "eternal me" might just still exist.
The first playground in the US was opened in 1887 in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The first municipal playground was opened in 1903 in Seward Park in New York City.
Think back... way back... maybe to the ‘50s, ‘60s or ‘70s. Think back to the playground outside of elementary schools, in parks or at beaches. All of these had monkey bars, swings, a slide, a merry-go-round, and a see-saw. How many afternoons did you spend swinging, sliding and spinning when you were a child?
At recess wasn’t there always a race to see who could get to the swings first?
President Theodore Roosevelt, in a speech to the Washington Playground Association on February 16, 1907 stated “City streets are unsatisfactory playgrounds for children because of the danger, because most good games are against the law, because they are too hot in summer, and because in crowded sections of the city they are apt to be schools of crime.
Older children who would play vigorous games must have places especially set aside for them; and, since play is a fundamental need, playgrounds should be provided for every child as much as schools. This means that they must be distributed over the cities in such a way as to be within walking distance of every boy and girl, as most children cannot afford to pay carfare.”
There are six types of movement: inverted, rotary, linear, oscillation, heavy work and crashing. Each form of movement is essential to normal brain development.
Table by Nan Arnstein via http://creativeartsdm.org/
Children need to move. Each of these six ways provides an outlet for stored energy and vital stimulation to create an environment in which the brain can develop normally. When a child is crying the normal response to soothe the child is to pick them up and rock them. Why do children fall asleep in the car seat during a car ride? How many of our parents told us to “go outside and run around” to stop us from fighting with siblings or misbehaving? Movement is nature’s way of calming and rebalancing an agitated state of mind. Maybe if more children played outside; hung upside down by their knees on monkey bars; pumped so high on the swings they thought they were flying; or spun so fast on the merry-go-round they could not stand when they got off today’s children would exhibit less behavioral problems.
I have an idea! Let’s all go to the playground and swing as high as we can. I bet we would all feel better.
To read more visit Creative Arts for Developing Minds online at http://creativeartsdm.org/ or make an appointment to talk to Nan in person call 860.834.3359
#childbehavior #creativetherapy #movementtherapy #childrensbehavior #getmoving
When was the last time you spent time just watching children play? When was the last time you played? Really played? Like pumping your legs as hard as you could to swing as high as possible? Like going down a slide with your hands held high above your head? How about the last time you ran down the street just because you felt like it?
I looked up the definition of “play” on the internet and found the following:
Bing: to engage in enjoyable activities: to take part in an enjoyable activity, especially a game, simply for the sake of amusement.
Wikipedia: a term employed in psychology and ethology to describe a range of voluntary, intrinsically motivated activities normally associated with recreational pleasure and enjoyment.
Children play not because they are told to “go outside and play,” but because they “have to.” They need to run, to jump, to chase other kids, to laugh, and to yell. This need is part of their soul. It is hard wired into their DNA. A child’s healthy development is in part dependent upon what they learn through play… how to get along with other people, how exercise can result in feeling good, how movement of any kind helps to release tension, and how to just have fun.
I have always been a person who spends long hours each day working on numerous “important” tasks—or so I thought. About twenty-five years ago, a dear friend of mine was diagnosed with bone cancer and passed away three weeks later. Before she died, she gave me the following advice: no matter how much work you think you have to finish each day, do not forget to play!
I have remembered this advice many times over the past twenty-five years when I find myself running in too many directions at once. When this happens, I stop, look around, take a deep breath, and decide what I am going to do to play. Sometimes it is a walk in the woods, sometimes it is going to see a movie on a weekday afternoon, or maybe a trip to the local coffee shop to sit, read a book, and have a cup of coffee.
The next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, stop and watch children playing in the park or at the playground. Observe how carefree and uninhibited they are as they run, jump, yell and laugh. Spend some time sitting in the sun and just watch and listen. And while you are there, decide what you are going to do when you go out and play.
To read more and learn about Nan's impactful work here at BHAC and in her own business, visit her website at http://creativeartsdm.org.
#creativearts #innerchild #childrenstherapy #play
Carly Ginsberg wrote:
The arts can give a life to the parts of ourselves that we often hide or are scared to show in their most exploded forms. In a more traditional setting, like in a theater or a gallery, artistic work can give the audience a chance to escape from their own realities and give breath to the parts of themselves that feel touched or evoked by the piece.
I think we all need the chance to escape our realities once in a while. The problem with this is that our realities are always waiting for us when we return. What if we could find a way to incorporate our “trips” into our everyday existence, thereby reducing our need to escape?
Children living in foster care have various realities depending on the situations or environments in which they find themselves. School – parent’s night – who is going to come for me? Home – what do I call these people – Mom? Or Dad? Therapy – How much do I tell? Will it get back to those people? Will I get in trouble? Sports – no one taught me how to throw a baseball.
For these kids, learning to adapt to each situation requires a tremendous amount of energy, most of which they are unaware of expending or even doing. Providing a creative outlet that is a constant for these kids would help to keep them grounded.
How about a Name Beat rhythm? What is a Name Beat rhythm? Say your name in various rhythms: normal pronunciation and how you might like it said. The child can repeat this Name Beat to themselves when they feel anxious or scared. This exercise connects them to their identity, calms them down and allows them to escape the reality for a brief moment in time.
Not a bad thing for adults, either. Don’t you think?
#children #creativearts #fostrcare #play #music #arttherapy
Nan Arnstein founder,author and blogger. Helping foster children enhance and advance