Enhancing Teen Attachment Jennifer Scholes, M.A. Portland State University Child Welfare Partnership
Advisory Notice • This training is based on the policies and procedures of the Oregon Department of Human Services Child Welfare program. If you are employed by another agency, we recommend consulting with your agency for guidance.
Learning Objectives • Indicators that a teen has attachment issues • Link lagging teen development with attachment issues • Develop some strategies to parent in a way that promotes teen attachment
What is attachment? • Child’s formation of significant and stable emotional connections…
For youth with attachment difficulties… • Safety makes love possible
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs SELF ACTUALIZATION Reaching one’s potential, developing full identity SELF ESTEEM/WORTH Maintaining high opinion of self and having others hold high opinions of self LOVE AND BELONGING Relationships of mutual affection and love; belonging to accepting social groups SAFETY Safe, predictable, orderly environment PHYSICAL Food, water, shelter
Developmental Tasks • Do most of the tasks match the youth’s chronological age? • If not, in what age/stage is the youth? • Conclusions about the youth in care re: age/stage?
What do we do with attachment difficulties? • Establish what developmental tasks the youth has accomplished • Parent to help youth complete developmental tasks • Use parenting approaches that work with these youth
What Doesn’t Work • Rescuing/problem solving for youth • Emotional reactivity • Reasoning/persuasion • Negotiating
A Teen Talks AboutAttachment The placements did not work because in my heart I felt alone but in my mind I felt grown…. The only problem in the home was me. There I was almost thirteen and hated the world. I could not trust anyone. I didn’t want to trust anyone. How could I trust someone? I had to protect myself from hurt. The only way I could do that was to guard my heart…I messed up four homes because of this.
How do caregiversexperience it? • Won’t? • Can’t? • Don’t?
What Works • Caregiver qualities • Counterintuitive • Appropriate physical touch • Teach emotions
Paradox of Parenting Youth with AD • Youth desperately need to attach • We want them to attach • In order for them to attach, caregivers must detach
What is this? ..and what does it have to do with attachment?
Three Little Words Ashley Rhodes-Courter
Teaching Youth • Choices • Experiencing results of behavior • Attention • Result of distrust of self
Avoid Asking Youth • “Did you ________?” • “Why did you ________?” • “Do you remember the rule about _________________?”
Questions to Ask • How is it that ____________? • How does it happen that _________? • What happened?
Jump Rope Parenting • Works for many children who don’t have attachment difficulties
How’s that working for you? • …but not so much for youth with attachment difficulties
Chess Parenting • A more analytic, preplanned approach to parenting
Jump Rope or Chess? • “Chess, like love, like music, has the power to make people happy.” Siegbert Tarrasch