Last week I decided to change the name of my blog from overseascaregivers.com to supportingchildcaregivers.com. There were several reasons why I decided to do this. First of all, I had begun to appreciate the fact that the basic principles I was writing about in my blog were the same as those I write out for parents of children in my child psychotherapy practice after our meetings about their children. Of course, parents are the primary caregivers. Next, I thought that I wanted to reach out to child caregivers in developing countries who were not necessarily working in institutions. Some might be working in day care and some might be teachers. Finally, and probably most important, the children’s home in El Salvador with which I have been connected has been undergoing major transformations related to the “reunification” of the children with their biological families. Instead of holding tight to their old traditions and procedures, they have extended themselves to the families of the children and tried to support the families in the community both materially and psychologically, so that they could be prepared to nurture and protect the children after reunification. This change in direction the home has taken has been inspirational to me.
In my efforts to support the children’s home and to learn more about how to support child caregivers in developing countries in a general sense, I have contacted both The Better Care Network and the Center for Health Policy and Inequalities Research at Duke University. I also plan to be in touch with the investigators of some of the recent important studies done in orphanages in Eastern Europe. The goal is to identify multiple ways to support the caregiving relationship both within the family and also in alternative care situations – whether in institutions or in other homes in the community. The more we understand about what can work in various contexts – including the cultural context – the better we will be able to put in place flexible procedures for creating and maintaining caregiving situations responsive to the needs of specific children and families.
I will also try to include in each blog posting some practical ideas for caregivers in their daily work caring for children.
The Repair Option:
Today’s idea is that of the repair option as an alternative to punishment for children. This means that instead of a time out or taking away a privilege, the child can be given a small task designed to repair the relationship with the person who was inconvenienced or injured by the child’s behavior, such as the parent when the child did not comply with the parent’s demands that he get ready for school, or the sibling when the child took a possession of a sibling. In those cases the child may be given the task of drawing a picture for the parent or the sibling, or of doing a household chore that the child does not typically do, such as set the table. Remember, that with a young child it is important for the parent to work alongside the child. The object of the consequence is to help the child learn how to take appropriate responsibility, not for the child to do someone else’s work.