Many parents speak of their toolboxes - a physical or metaphorical toolbox that is, full of useful tips and strategies.
Adoptive parents are no different, except perhaps that we need to have a mini version of that toolbox strapped on at all times! And some of the equipment might be a little...different.
Over the years we've adapted our tools and equipped our toolbox with many different things. Some work for a short time, others work for a long time, some we can swap around so they don't become ineffective. We also have some tools that didn't work at all, but we've kept to hand...just in case.
In fact, only this week, Mini himself has instigated the use of two such tools that didn't really take off before...
The Worry Eater
My mum bought Mini a Worry Eater - a little stuffed monster that has a zip up mouth, in which worries can be placed, without the need to talk to us. Mini liked the novelty of this for a few weeks, but then it just became another stuffed toy on his bed.
However, this week Mini's sought it out and used it several times. He knows that we read the worries he carefully, but not discretely pops in the mouth of the monster. This week, a big worry was put inside, and he sat around waiting-but-not-waiting for us to read it. We did, and managed to reassure him that although he was worried, now he'd shared it with us we could work on it together....he clearly was reassured because he triumphantly threw the paper into the fire.
During our time with Dave-the-therapist, we came to realise the importance of fleece blankets. Dave used them to cover the sofa in the therapy room, we used one to blanket-swing Mini in, there were theraplay games involving a big fleece and the softness and warmth provide a lovely, but not overwhelming sensory experience. So we bought a special Lego fleece for Mini. We explained that he could sit under it, wrap in it, hide under it, talk from behind it - whatever he wanted. Effectively we were giving our then 6 year old a safety blanket/portable den. It sat folded up in the living room for months.
Today, Mini asked for it. He was ashamed about something that had happened this morning, and wanted to just hide and feel safe. Through the blanket we could hug and talk, but without that scary eye contact.
So there are two of our tools that were useless a year ago, but even if only for this week, have proved their worth. Have you got anything that you use regularly, or things that have only worked once or twice?