The process of development of stranger anxiety will occur over time and at different stages. Think of newborn babies who do not have any fear of people; over time they develop a bond with mom and dad and the desire to stay with them rather than be passed around or left with a stranger. This is the same in adoption. Our goal is for adoptive parents to build trust and gradually help the child learn who is safe and who is a stranger. These are some helpful reminders that might help:
- Children recently adopted may display indiscriminate affection and go to any stranger to seek a hug or to be held. Remember that this is expected when first home and that healthy stranger anxiety will come through time and limitation of affection given by strangers.
- Remember to cocoon in the beginning and then gradually move out through their circle of support: Immediate family, extended family, closest friends, small groups at church, large events of people, etc.
- Help teach your older child by using scripts for different categories of people: The term “friends” can be used to describe safe people to interact with.
- Model appropriate interactions (just a “hello”, a high five, side hug, etc.)