Typically when a child is experiencing some negative emotion, be it pain, fear, sadness, or something else, they go to a parent. Under normal circumstances, your parents are supposed to make you feel loved and protected. The fastest and safest solution for a distressed child is usually to go to their parents.

All that said, that’s a typical situation. The situation is not as simple for a child with a history of early trauma, abuse, or neglect or who was placed for adoption by their parent(s). Their past experiences impact and shape their lives and beliefs in various ways. Often, they’ll be afraid and won’t trust others very easily. In a situation where they’re distressed, they’re also more likely to close themselves off and push their parents away. Unfortunately, this can lead to everyone involved feeling disconnected and alone.

This is experienced in many families that adopt children. It can also be hard to figure out how to respond to these situations, especially if you can’t relate.

An important thing to remember during these times is that many children actually respond to distress similarly. They frequently react in ways that outwardly look like intentional disobedience. This can happen with feelings ranging from hunger to pain to embarrassment to sadness and everything in between. The natural response from parents in these kinds of situations is usually discipline rather than compassion. This often leads to the child withdrawing even more and creating more distance between parent and child.

When faced with a situation like this, it’s crucial to allow the child to trust you so they can heal. You cannot create a greater gap between you and the child, even if they’re pushing you away. Instead of immediately jumping to discipline, try to solve the problem in a way that allows you to build a relationship with your kid. Try connecting with the child before you correct them, as they might be more receptive to the correction after you connect.

It’s usually more important to the child’s development to be able to talk about what the initial problem was first rather than talking about everything that went wrong. There’s not usually time to have your child talk about their feelings after you’ve corrected them. Therefore, it’s vital to listen first and act after.

Above all, though, your child needs to be able to feel that they’re not alone in life and can come to you with their problems. That comes from your words and your actions.


No matter what route you choose for your adoption journey, Connected by Love Adoptions wants you to feel supported and safe. We’re here for you 24/7 to answer any questions you may have. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for questions. Call us today at (321)355-2010 for more information.