Age – real age or emotional age?

Everyone says that you have to treated adopted children younger than their real age. I do try to have lower expectations for Spud than his peers but it is very difficult when he can articulate so well. Spud has been home 3 years and during his time with birth family and then in several foster care placements he was treated and encouraged to be very independent. When he first came home we had months of spud crawling around the floor, wanting to be fed and cradled. All of this helped with attachment, as time has gone on slowly the regression has stopped being so frequent although it can often take me by surprise then it returns. Spuds best friends are both the youngest in his class whereas he is one of the eldest. His other best friend is a boy who is currently living in foster care, they have bonded really well. The boy has speech and language delay and Spud acts as his voice a lot if the time. When I watch Spud with his peers I can see the emotional difference so clearly. His peers know the boundaries of play as they were taught this as toddlers. They understand the expectations of play dates as they have grown up having them and they understand emotions, body language, social skills and the unwritten rules of society. Spud does not understand any of this although when I look back over the last 3 years, I can see the difference and the learning that has gone on for both of us. If I am honest, I don’t think I understood play dates when I first started having spuds friends over. I found the whole play date thing very traumatic and have lost count of the number if times I said that was the very last play date ever! They have got better as both myself and spud have got used to play dates but I still have to do them while Mr Football is work as he really can’t cope! So back to emotional age, spud plays much better with children 2-3 years younger than him. I think it allows him to “play” he loves playing pirates, hide and seek and just starting to enjoy role play. His peers have moved on from these games and apart from his friend who is in foster care, don’t want to play these games. This then leads to spud having to live up to the expectations that he can’t sustain. He has only been invited to 2 birthday parted in the last 3 years as unfortunately word has gone around the school parents that spud is not the easiest of child to have at the party. On holiday there were 2 groups of children, 1 group of about 6 boys aged 10-13 years old and 1 group that was headed by spud of 6-9 year olds. I was very pleased that spud made friends with the younger group as they had a ball playing games together. Spud loved it as he was able to control the games which made him feel safe and the play was good. He looked after the children, had fun but I did have to watch that his control did not get out of hand on occasions. I am so used to doing the “walk of shame” at school and many social situations and being told that spud had accidentally got carried away and hurt child A or had no impulse control and hit back after child C had hit him that when one of the parents in Spuds gang asked to gave a word, the familiar heart sinking feeling returned. I was so shocked when she said that her child had fallen and hit his head, spud had taken care of him and showed great maturity. She went on to say that spud was such a pleasant caring boy that we must be very proud of him. Of course this women does not know Spuds background, that he is adopted or any of his issues. I really thought my heart was going to jump out, proud does not come close to how those words made me feel. ๐Ÿ™‚

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6 thoughts on “Age – real age or emotional age?

  1. I think you’re so right about our children finding it easier to play with younger children. I wonder if it all evens out as they get older? Love the story at the end – no wonder you were so proud!

  2. It is such a wonderful feeling when you receive a positive message from a parent.
    Both my boys definitely function better when they are interacting with peers younger than their own age. Like you we have the difficulity that Waxy is so articulate but he is emotionally very much younger and this is playing havoc with his ability to cope with additional independence.

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