Parenting Adopted, Foster, and Diagnosed Challenging Children

My wife Susan and I fostered 27 children and adopted 4 from the Virginia Foster Care System ages 6, 16, 17, and 21. We served as emergency placement parents, taking sibling groups at all hours, and helped to evaluate the children for agencies. We loved it for 13 years. We eventually partnered with Bryan Post and Kristi Saul, founders of The Post Institute and served as partners for 10 years creating love based family-centered training materials for parents and professionals with adopted, foster and diagnosed children in their care. We know what it takes to love and parent these children that come from hard places—unconditional love. The kind of love where there is nothing that a child can do to earn it, and nothing that a child can do to lose it. Choose Love.

The Post Institute is dedicated to families with challenging children. Adopted, Foster, Diagnosed And Attachment Disorders, RAD, PTSD, ODD, Autism, Aspergers & More There Is Hope . . . There Is Help!

They offer a love based, family-centered approach for helping children with challenging behaviors.

All these articles were first published in the Post Parenting Toolbox Series. To sign up for these weekly inspirational emails, visit The Post Institute website here.

Below are just a sampling of the articles. To view the full archive, visit here.

The Post Institute is a leading publisher of love based Family-Centered training material for parents and professionals with adopted, foster and diagnosed children in their care. Their radically new and uniquely different approach to parenting difficult children and managing disruptive behaviors empowers parents to create an optimal healing environment in the lives of children that come from hard places. How do They do it? With love. The kind of love that there is nothing a child can do to earn, and nothing a child can do to lose.

What is The Post Institute? (1:20)

Why They do it (3:40)

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Becoming an Adolescent/Teen Whisperer Part 3 of 3

07/27/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 8 Min. 04 sec.

Researchers spend an ordinate amount of time focused on the child or adolescent brain, but what of the adult brain? After all, the adult brain is the primary lead in developing the child’s brain. Why do we spend so much time focused on our children’s brains? It’s as if we keep saying, “Why the little chap’s brain is just all messed up. Luckily my brain is just fine, or we really would be in a mess.” This article addresses this “mess”. Learn More, Love More →

Becoming an Adolescent/Teen Whisperer Part 2 of 3

07/12/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 4 Min. 08 sec.

When I first met Bryan Post and heard about his unique approach to Love-Based Family-Centered Parenting, I was truly jaw-dropping amazed. Seventeen years later, I am still astonished at how well it works with kids and adults in all life stations as a powerful relationship-building approach. Learn More, Love More →

Becoming an Adolescent/Teen Whisperer Part 1 of 3

06/6/29/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 3 Min. 25 sec.

While running The Post Institute for ten years, I often heard from parents, "does your approach work with teens?" The simple answer is "yes, of course."

For most kids, almost any parenting style will work. But for foster/adopted kids, a love-based family-centered approach is essential.

Many of you have likely heard my story after taking our first Bryan Post Parenting Boot Camp with my wife. I was stunned and impressed with this new look into working with such hurting kids. We had already been fostering for seven years and had adopted three of our four adopted children by then. If I had only known then what I know now... Learn More, Love More →

How Do You Feel When You Think of Your Challenging Child?

06/08/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 2 Min. 40 sec. This article is about learning to question ourselves, our thinking, and our habits and hopefully begin to see things through a different story or lens. We call it “parenting paradigm”. Seeing our children as little monsters may not be the best thing for us or them. Don’t believe everything you think. Learn More, Love More →

Oh The Mistakes I have Made— How Not to Parent

05/25/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 1 Min. 56 sec. Learning to love unconditionally is a lifelong learning task. It is not fair. It is not right. Yet, it is an ever-expanding playground for parents and children to learn to become more fully human. Learning to take responsibility for our mistakes teaches children to take responsibility for theirs. No amount of lecturing can do that. Stop blaming your children for making you angry. "If we blame others for our reactions, our children will learn to blame others for theirs." — Bryan Post. Learn More, Love More →

Are You Too Conciliatory with Your Children? Should You Be Tougher? Easier on Them?
05/11/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 2 Min. 7 sec. Parenting is about how to change behaviors, but really about how to love our children in an unconditional way yet not suffer from conciliatory parenting guilt pangs from being too soft on them. It is not about soft or hard, it is about love and safety. Especially with children with trauma histories, foster, adopted, or behavioral diagnoses, what is needed is love where there is nothing a child can do to earn and nothing they can do to lose. Choose Love. Learn More, Love More →

How to REALLY Change Children's Behaviors

04/27/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 1 Min. 53 sec. It is about how to change behavior. If you haven't met Kirk Martin, founder of Celebrate Calm, take 60 seconds to read over one of his messages. Kirk has an elegant approach to parenting that often parallels The Post Institute, and from time to time, I like to share his wisdom with you. I admire his marvelous writing style and humorous and loving "in your face" boldness. You may not always agree with him (as if you always agree with Bryan Post – not!), but he does make us think. Learn More, Love More →

Why Can't My Kid Control His Anger!

04/13/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 2 Min. 8 sec. Anger makes me angry. I can’t stand it when my children get angry. I believe in my heart that anger is just a symptom, a reaction, and not the problem itself. There is something behind and below it. The Post Institute teaches us that fear is what is buried there. When our children feel threatened, anger is the result. but when I get triggered, all of this understanding falls into my unconscious it seems, and over the waterfall I go, unable to stop. Learn More, Love More →

Be The Calm by Kristi Saul

03/30/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 2 Min. 24 sec. Be the calm. Being the calm in the storm of our children's life is one of the greatest gifts we can give as parents. When parenting children who have experienced pre-birth and early life complex trauma, being the calm in the storm is crucial and, at times, challenging. Be the calm. Learn More, Love More →

Why We Do What We Don't Want To Do

03/15/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 4 Min. 05 sec. You Can’t Stop What You’ve Already Started: Stop reacting and start responding. We know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Living out our good intentions is more science than art. It is more practice than theory. As parents, our children learn more from our behaviors than our words. Here is a secret to better behavior for parents and children, and humans in general. Learn More, Love More →

You Are The Thermostat

03/02/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 1 Min. 31 sec. Parents are the primary modulators of stress and happiness within the home environment. You have control. You are the thermostat. You are the source. The environment you create for your family encompasses their emotional, physical, mental, and spiritual well-being, however you define it. You are responsible for ensuring ongoing optimal development. Is it filled with stress and tension, or is it an environment of attunement, openness, and love? You decide which you are offering and if you are unhappy with it, change it. You are the thermostat. Learn More, Love More →

Mindful Stopping Practice

02/16/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 2 Min. 39sec. This article presents practices to help you and your children learn to stop, pause, still yourself in an effort to introduce you to a powerful tool for your inner journey. The Mindful Stopping Practice and tips for beginning a practice to help bring more peace, calm, and self-regulation into your world. After our last article telling us to Just Stop It!, I thought I would follow up with some helpful tips to practice the simple but not easy Just Stop It technique by Bryan Post and Bob Newhart. Introducing the Mindful Stopping Practice. Learn More, Love More →

Just Stop It: The Best 5 Minute Therapy Session You Will Ever See!

02/03/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 1 Min. 50 sec. Learning to change our behaviors as parents is the most efficient and effective way to influence our children. It is also the most difficult. Behavior change is not an easy process as we all know. Habits, good or bad, tend to deepen our tendencies, making it harder to break our parenting patterns. New paradigms mean new habits to build new behaviors. Start now. Learn More, Love More →

Celebrate Children's Failures and Mistakes

01/19/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 2 Min. 4 sec. This article offers advice to parents to celebrate children’s failures along with their successes. Failure is an essential building block of success. Celebrate your child’s failures. We talked about how to Succeed at Failing as a Parent recently. Finding out what doesn’t work is critical on your parenting journey or any other path you might be on, and the value of failure must not be underestimated. Learn More, Love More →

How to Succeed at Failing As a Parent

01/05/2022 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 2 Min. 3 sec. This article underscores the importance of persistence when shifting paradigms from traditional parenting to a love-based Family-Centered approach utilizing unconditional love rather than logic, reason, consequences, and punishment. Failure is inevitable. Learn to love it. Learn More, Love More →

How I Fell in Love with Love

12/23/2021 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 3 Min. 25 sec. This seasonal yet always appropriate article summarizes my journey into the power of love within an evolutionary framework. Choose Love as a lifestyle. Eight years after my wife Susan and I became foster parents and adopted the first of our four adopted foster children, we had the privilege of attending a Parenting Boot Camp presented by Bryan Post of The Post Institute, sponsored by Old Dominion University. That weekend changed the trajectory of my life and created the foundation for a lifelong learning curve of uncovering the depths of unconditional love. Learn More, Love More →

Neurophysiologic Behavior Feedback Loops Pt. 3

12/08/2021 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 3 Min. 28 sec. This article covers the inherent behavior feedback loops established through the emotional conscious or unconscious triggers (stimulus) that cause learned behaviors (reactions) for good or bad. The term neurophysiologic refers to both body and mind. We have body/mind feedback loops that are both positive and negative. Scientific research has measured how we communicate and are connected on a cellular level. One person’s emotional state can influence and impact others nearby. Learn More, Love More →

Self-Awareness Leads to Efficient and Loving Parenting Pt. 2

11/18/2021 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 2 Min. 18 sec. Looking back on our previous article, Self-Control Links to Emotional Awareness Study Shows, it is clear that this is a 3 part topic, and this is #2 in the series. This part, though short, is pivotal in helping all of us to self-regulate. It is another insight into the science of how this potent tool of awareness that we all possess can help us be better parents and humans and our children better children. Learn More, Love More →

Emotional Mindfulness Helps Improve Executive Function Researcher Interview

11/10/2021 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 15 Min. 22 sec. This article, first published in The Greater Good Magazine: Science-Based Insights for a Meaningful Life, is reproduced here with permission. Emotional Intelligence, Emotional Awareness, Awareness, Expanded Consciousness all link to a connection of the Inner World to the Outer World, or the inner life to our outer life. Understanding that being aware of emotional states can lead to a better life and more control of our behaviors. Both children and adults can learn to regulate behaviors by simply being aware of and accepting our emotional states. Not that this easy, but with practice, we can learn how to express more caring, loving, and empathetic behaviors, which might be what this world needs, now and forever. Learn More, Love More →

Study Shows Self Control Tied to Emotional Mindfulness Pt. 1

11/10/2021 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 15 Min. 22 sec. It is about "research that suggests that willpower or self-control may be sharpest in people who are sensitive and open to their own emotional experiences. Willpower, in other words, may relate to 'emotional intelligence,'" said Michael Inzlicht, associate professor of psychology at UTSC. He co-authored the paper with Ph.D. student Rimma Teper. What does this mean for you and your children? Learn More, Love More →

Understanding Children's Outbursts of Anger

10/27/2021 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 1 Min. 37 sec. This is about understanding anger, where it comes from, what triggers it, and what to do with it when it arises—which it will. Understanding Outbursts of Children's Anger. Understanding that outbursts of children's anger is an expression of fear is key to understanding your child's behaviors. When we can receive their anger as a gift, we can begin the unwrapping process. But why is this so difficult? And how can we go about unwrapping such an unwanted gift? Learn More, Love More →

Can't Connect With Your Child? This May Be Why...

10/12/2021 LoveMore Blog | Read Time: 3 Min. 11 sec. This article is about learning to do the homework before we launch off into a corrective posture with our loved ones, child, spouse, or other. Connection is the thread that keeps us in relationship and we would do well to remember to connect before we correct. Missing this step could trigger more intense reactions and create more barriers to the closeness and intimacy that we all crave, and need. Trust can be broken at any point, but once repaired, the way back lies much closer. If we have lost the relationship, we have lost everything. If we have relationship, we can still influence our children. Learn More, Love More →

Your Child Being a Brat? Try This...

09/29/2021 LoveMore Blog | This is about the innate needs that we all have and carry within us, often below the surface buried beneath the pains, hurts, traumas, abandonments, rejections attachment disorders, and more. Worry not dear parents, treasure is always buried. We must become treasure hunters to help our children and ourselves as we learn to recognize, acknowledge, and help to satisfy these needs. There is no shame in asking for needs to be satisfied. The only shame is to miss the gift that lies within their behaviors and the healing that comes when needs are satisfied. Our children don't have the luxury of knowing all this. they need us to help them. Children act out, not because they want attention. They act out because they need attention. The same is true for us. Learn More, Love More →

Thriving Adoptees: Inspiration for Adoptive Parents and Adoptees, with Simon Benn

09/15/2021 LoveMore Blog | Simon found that his journey was only beginning even at forty years of age when he first touched on the trauma of being adopted. His experience led him to want to share that in helping others with their journey of hidden trauma, and the hope of not just surviving but thriving by understanding and embracing their past, no matter how old they are. You may wonder about your adopted/foster children's futures and what lies beyond childhood. Simon has interviewed people who have found answers and can help. Learn More, Love More →

Want Your Child to Be Normal?

08/25/2021 LoveMore Blog | It is about hidden or not so hidden talents that our children have or skills they have learned that could be helpful in their development if nurtured. Even bad behaviors may have some salvageable components that could become seeds for a future time. As parents and guardians, we owe it to our children to learn who they are, and not just hope that will be like us—normal. Look for the genius in your child. It is not normal. Learn More, Love More →

The Key to Relationships and to Learning

08/09/2021 LoveMore Blog | "My child just doesn't seem to learn!"

If you are like me, you have thought or uttered these words more than once. Especially with our kiddos. Besides the fact that the brain doesn't fully develop until around 25 years of age (in a normal developmental process), other factors can enhance or inhibit a child's learning ability. Here is a big one. Relating Leads to Relationship Leads to Learning. Let me be clear. A relationship is not "We have a relationship. I am the parent. He/She is the child." Learn More, Love More →

What Kind of a Role Model Are You?

7/28/2021 LoveMore Blog | When adults get stressed out, we tend to act like adolescents. This is true mainly because when we stress, we regress as Bryan Post likes to quote. Our amygdala is hijacked, our higher functioning frontal cortex is shut down, and we no longer run the show. The same is true for our children. Think about this the next time you are tempted to say to them, “What were you thinking!?!?” The answer is simple – Not. Learn More, Love More →

Did You Practice Last Week?

7/14/2021 LoveMore Blog | Real peace comes when internal circumstances are quiet and settled, regardless of the external environment. For most of us, that little bit of calm at the end of the day is not enough to restore our worn-out and beaten-down spirits from dealing with our special kiddos. We need to experience more peace during the hectic day, not only after it is done. Some of us cannot even go to the bathroom without one of our children sitting outside the door or pounding on it, trying to get it. Learn More, Love More →

6 Secrets to Love-Based Parenting

6/30/2021 LoveMore Blog | We try to parent from our heads, where we hold our knowledge of best parenting practices. But, if our amygdala has hijacked our emotions — our flight, fight, or freeze behaviors have been triggered — or our brain's orbitofrontal cortex (involved in social-emotional behaviors) has out-influenced or out-shouted our prefrontal cortex (cognitive control functions), the rational thinking part of us will not be in control and not able to use our most helpful parenting tools. Learn More, Love More →

Grow Up and Be the Adult

6/16/2021 LoveMore Blog | Our brains do not like change. Not because it is wrong, but because it takes effort, resources, energy. The brain likes the status quo because it is efficient. It doesn't evaluate things as good or bad. It is behavior agnostic. That is why it lets us get away with things that actually harm us or are not helpful for us. "The grayish blob between our ears doesn't discriminate between good habits and bad habits. It only cares about how easy, or difficult, it is to kick those habits into action. In other words, our brains always take the path of least resistance — even if that path could hurt us in the long run."How To Use Neuroscience To Build Habits, With James Garrett by Merideth Rodriguez ... Learn More →

Why Do We Parents Get Angry at Our Children?

5/26/2021 LoveMore Blog |One of the more popular tools in a parent's toolbox is anger. "Don't make me get angry with you"! (As if they could "make" us angry...). We don't like it when our children get angry, we don't like it when our spouse or boss gets angry, and if you are like me, you don't even like it when you get angry. So why do we do it? More importantly, how do we "not do it"? Learn More →

Love — A Child's Understanding

5/11/2021 LoveMore Blog |Love is always a good topic of discussion. Everyone knows what it means, right? Probably much closer to the truth is that it means something different to each person. We could discuss this until the sun burns out, but for now, let us look at a very simple child-like way to define it. I read this quote years ago and it has stuck with me. It has been attributed to author Jody Picoult, author Jess C. Scott, and young Billy, age 4. Ben Worthington credits Billy, and I like to think it was he who first came up with it ... Learn More →

If Mama or Papa Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy

4/29/2021 LoveMore Blog |“An important principle of parenting is recognizing that stress can flow through the parents onto the child. This is called entrainment. It is the manner by which family members become intertwined in an other’s sensory exchange. You’ve heard that saying, “If mom ain’t happy, nobody’s happy,” this speaks to the theory of entrainment. If one member of the family is stressed the entire family will be stressed. Also remember that the child with the trauma will be the most sensitive one in the family. Easily reacting to the stress experience of the other individuals in the home.”Bryan Post ... Learn More →

Child Giving You Grief?

4/12/2021 LoveMore Blog |So start now, dear parents, living a full-er life where your grief and gratitude are both part of the life you share with your children. Keep one in each hand and don’t deny your family the benefits of your suffering. Grief is nothing new to the children you are trying to love. For some, that has been their whole life. Fill their hand with something for them to be grateful for and your gratitude will also grow ... Learn More →

How to Rebuild and Repair Relationships with Your Children

3/14/2021 LoveMore Blog |The therapist then said that when he has hard-to-reach kids, can’t get them to talk, and they sit there with arms crossed, he will toss them a piece of candy. This usually gets them to drop their arms and catch the candy. Often, he says, they will crack a sorta half-smile. Inside, he smiles and thinks, “gotcha!” I elbow my wife and whispered in her ear, “how cool is that!”. She turns to my ear and says, “no way, we will not reward bad behaviors.” ... Learn More →

Reward Bad Behavior? You Might Be Surprised!

3/30/2021 LoveMore Blog |The therapist then said that when he has hard-to-reach kids, can’t get them to talk, and they sit there with arms crossed, he will toss them a piece of candy. This usually gets them to drop their arms and catch the candy. Often, he says, they will crack a sorta half-smile. Inside, he smiles and thinks, “gotcha!” I elbow my wife and whispered in her ear, “how cool is that!”. She turns to my ear and says, “no way, we will not reward bad behaviors.” ... Learn More →

How to Change Behaviors Less Threateningly and More Effectively

12/21/2020 LoveMore Blog |The child wanted to do well. He just had a problem with authority making him do things. It wasn't his fault, but he did need to decide to change. The teacher's job was to remove the child's obstacles somehow not, as parents and teachers may believe, to make kids do what they need to do. Bryan Post knew this intuitively. He did not have to give a long-winded explanation, and he just tried something different. He saw that punishing was not getting Bobby to behave. Getting Bobby to behave was not even on his mind. He wanted to help Bobby learn.

Making life changes can be enhanced in two ways, but the second is not always so obvious. My friend David Langner of The Habit Institute describes them as ... Read more →

Your Presence is Requested...

10/19/2020 LoveMore Blog | Your presence is a gift to your family and yourself. As a parent, when you are dysregulated, the task of being patient will be infinitely more difficult than when you are regulated. Patience requires a lack of stress. It is only in the absence of stress that you can maintain a sufficient window of tolerance for coping with the stressful presence of another (i.e. your child). The anti-stress love hormone known as oxytocin must also be present. It is the oxytocin which allows us to deliver a loving energy to our child or stressed-out spouse. When you have fully grasped the power of your ability to trigger oxytocin within another, the act of being patient amid stress can become enjoyable. Read more →

Stop Yelling And Love Me More, Please Mom!

09/8/2020 LoveMore Blog | It delights me to see others echoing what The Post Institute has been teaching for over twenty years. Often they say it differently, which adds one more perspective or a different approach to the one thing we all agree on — Love is ALWAYS the lesson. This weeks practice is to observe your tone, volume, and words that you use. Breaking down “change” into bite-sized adjustments referred to as CANI (Continual And Never-ending Improvement) can make the task of changing ourselves manageable. Read more →

Love Has No Agenda But To Love

08/10/2020 LoveMore Blog | Parental self-awareness is the ability to look at one’s self from moment to moment, and especially during parent/child interactions, and ask, “How am I feeling?” This level of awareness brings you into the moment, the present, and this is where love lives. When you can meet your child in the present, free from the past, and free from your fears about the future, you can parent in the now from a place called love. Read more →

The Greatest Gift a Parent Can Give a Child

08/17/2020 LoveMore Blog | The Greatest Gift You Can Give to Your Child: Parenting is not easy, even in typical families. For our families with adopted, foster, or diagnosed children, we make the difficult look easy, on a good day, which may be rare. We know that with our special kiddos, families can be pulled apart, marriages close to a breaking point (or broken), and short of that, we are worn down, wearied, exhausted, and tired of walking on eggshells in our own homes. Read more →

Love Moves Toward, Not Away From

7/27/2020 LoveMore Blog | I was touched by hearing a young mother’s story about her ten-year-old going through puberty, struggling with hormones and emotions raging out of control. I thought to share it with you as a real-life example of love, unconditional love to be more specific. Both son and mother learn things in an accepting, open environment that allows ‘what is’ to play itself out. Think on these things… Read more →

I'm Sorry, You Want Me to Apologize?

7/6/2020 LoveMore Blog | I imagine that many of you, like us, have children who cannot apologize. The words “I’m sorry” do not seem to be part of their vocabulary. This is sad, but so are their histories, and so are our parenting practices at times, which only add to their burdens. This is most evident in children in foster care, adopted, or with trauma histories. Read more →

2/16/2020 LoveMore Blog | I have to admit that parents, like children, just don’t know when to shut up. I know this from experience. Having watched myself lecture (though I don’t think of it that way–it is more like instructional feedback), saying the same things over, sometimes in different ways. Heedlessly I talk on. Even my wife says, “I don’t need a lecture.” I think, "Sweetie Pie, dearest love, I’m just giving you feedback." Learn how to step back and change this not-so effective habit, if you have it or someone you know... Read more →