Blocked care and adoption stress

Published on 21st November 2016

Blocked care and Adoption Stress

Dan Hughes and Jonathan Baylin in 2012 identified and named a syndrome they called Blocked care.

Their research shows that if you don’t get enough positive strokes back from the person you care for you can literally turn into old playdoh.  Your ability to empathise and care for your child is reduced so that parenting becomes a chore.

Parenting whilst in stressed out survival mode makes us defensive, reactive, unable to emotionally regulate and empathise.

Blocked care involves the shutting down of the part of the brain called the cingulate where emotional pain is usually registered as part of a parent’s empathic response to a child’s distress.

How to manage stress

It is vital that we build emotional muscle and keep putting deposits into our energy bank. We need as much emotional currency as possible to remain in a giving and responding state rather than a reacting one.

Remedies for stress

A regular massage with help ease muscular tension, lower blood pressure, stimulate digestion and immunity, slow the heart rate and deepen breathing.

Learn to prioritise and manage your time will enhance a sense of being in control rather than pressure controlling you.

Be less perfectionist the sun will still rise if you don’t change the beds for a couple more days.                           

Communication, be open and show your feelings to appropriate people

Get support particularly from other adoptive parents which is worth its weight in gold; they will understand.

Safeguard your leisure time and be sure to continue some of your hobbies, see your friends and exercise. A few hours of quality leisure time will more than offset the stress of home and work. A change is as good as a rest is really true!

Look after your diet as a poor diet will only add to your stress. Too much caffeine, sugar, alcohol, convenience foods, salt, additives and fats will adversely affect your mental state.

Regular exercise will help burn up the stress hormone adrenaline and will improve the body’s ability to utilize oxygen, thereby energizing the body.

Take time out to be quiet and reflective. Often when we are in a relaxed state answers to problems come easily and effortlessly, whilst sweating over them has produced no results.

Take up a form of relaxation- yoga, meditation, heart math, mindfulness or tai chi

Be flexible and bend like the willow don’t resist like the oak, it is the willow that weathers the storm

Be careful not to tolerate the situation in the hope it will go away, or they will grow out of it. Ask for help from wherever you can. My sons school is amazingly supportive and are using his pupil premium for some therapy


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"Gill Tree's Adoption Support course on Building Resilience was just what I needed. The workbook and exercises made you think about stress and how you handle it. The Stress course was both interesting and useful. It felt like Gill was interested in me, it was almost like having her in my living room! I was able to go through the course at my own speed and access it as and when I needed and wanted to! It is something I probably need to revisit after some time and I would be keen to use this type of format again now I know it works so well! Thank you Gill""

- Nikki Wilson Murray -

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Member of the International Stress Management Association

Member of the International Stress Management Association 

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