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  • Writer's pictureJessica Johnson

Window of Tolerance

Does your child gravitate towards emotional shut down and retreating behaviors or do they get tend to exhibit fight behaviors like yelling, tantrums, and aggression?

As moms both of these behavioral extremes can be hard to watch. They can make us feel powerless and ill equipped.

Any child who has been placed for adoption has experienced trauma. When a child comes into our care, they come with a small window of tolerance. Window of tolerance refers to the space where one feels regulated. They can learn, love, play, explore and express emotions appropriately in this space.

As parents we are constantly working to expand our child’s window of tolerance. Ideally the longer a child is in the care of a stable loving caregiver, the wider their window can expand to.

Here are a few ways we can help them expand their window:

1. Create an environment that feels safe. Even though there may not be real danger present, our children need reassurance that they are safe from real and perceived threats.

2. If your child allows for it, soothe them when they are in distress.

3. Help your child identify what might be triggering them. Try using “I wonder if…” statements to explore possible triggers.

4. Make sure you are staying within your own window of tolerance.

Adoption parenting is hard work. You are doing such an amazing job showing up each day, learning new skills and being there for your child. Be encouraged!!

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