This blog post, written by a very experienced adoptive mom who has helped her children with reactive attachment disorder heal, is well worth reading.
I love the illustration of success, and I have drawn that picture many times when talking with Kelton. He often wondered, especially in the early days at home, why he would have good days and bad days. I had to remind him over and over and over again that growth is a process with ups and downs.
This morning, he asked if I really thought he acted 13 now, because a few days ago in the car I told him I thought he acted 13. I reassured him that I truly think he now acts his age. For many years, he had been told that he was immature--which was an accurate assessment. His emotional age did not correspond with his chronological age, but it does now. By parenting him at his emotional age, rather than giving him all the responsibilities and freedoms of his chronological age, we have allowed him to mature more quickly.
When Kristina first came home, she was developmentally about 15 months old, but chronologically she was 4 years old. It would have been ludicrous for us to expect her to act like a 4-year-old child. I think it was easier to parent her as if she were a younger child because of her developmental delays and tiny size. It was more difficult with Kelton because he looked like an 11-year-old, even while he acted like a 3-year-old.
If you are parenting children who have been through trauma, please remember that their emotional age is often much younger than their chronological age. If you parent them at that emotional age, it allows them to catch up to their chronological age.