Chris asked a great question- "How do you cuddle an older child?"
I can tell you what we are doing but please feel free to add any suggestions!
When we first met Sarah she did not want me to touch her. Well, she was fine for the initial "Hello and a little hug" but after that- it did not feel comfortable for her. She hardly even knew me, I couldn't expect her to even want me to touch her like a mother touches her child. I think that was something I had to earn from her.
We started slow. She would hold Katie's (23 yr old sister) hand and I would hold Katie's other hand. I helped her in the shower in China, helped her get dressed, brush her teeth and combed her hair. I prepared her food and handled all the money. So if she OR Katie wanted anything it came through me. She slept with Katie when we were in her Province but then in Guangzhou we all slept together and she was in the middle of us. On the plane ride home I sat next to her at all times- we only had 2 seats together.
With our first adoption our SW mentioned that hubby should do more daily cares for our daughter for bonding purposes- we have always remembered that and it holds true for ANY age child!
As Sarah got more used to us we were able to hug her, carry her, give piggy back rides, have her sit on our laps and hold hands. After we were home about 3 days Sarah said she wanted to sleep with us! That was a big breakthrough! Katie went back to college and we were still there for her. Sarah was ready for a kiss on the cheek after a couple weeks. She slept with us for 3 months and then we suggested she sleep next to us in a separate bed. (We needed the sleep- she was becoming a kicker;-) Her next little milestone was when she was ready to sleep in her own room she would be able to get her ears pierced. We noticed she started playing in her bedroom more and more- 2 months later she was ready to make the change to sleeping in her own room!!
To answer more specifically how do you cuddle an older child-
You do it on their terms when they are ready.
You show that you are eager to give them love as soon as they are ready to accept it!
Have inadvertent touch- standing close to each other, resting a head on each others shoulders, sitting close to one another, high fives, etc.
We sometimes feed them a special treat, a spoonful of ice cream or a bite of candy
If you can you carry them- we carried Sarah when we were in the house . Jim carries her more as she is a bit heavy for me.
You do daily cares for them- comb hair, bath, brush teeth, help dress, etc.
We often squish in a chair that is too small, so we are nice and close and read a book.
We give lots of hugs!
We pinky swear!
We all give kisses- we are a kissy family.
We say "I love you", a lot!
Now that Sarah is not sleeping with us she comes in on Sat. and Sun. morning to cuddle before we all wake up.
Our extra special secret weapon is butterfly kisses and eskimo kisses - nobody can resist those!
The most important thing is this all needs to come from the Mom and Dad. As a parent you do all the things you do for your "little one" but on a different scale. They have spent so much time without this TLC- they need lots of it!
Sarah would have loved to have been home for those early years and often looks longingly at the cares Anna gets. We do our best to recreate it for her.
An older child is such a blessing and so much fun!
Today we took Mark shopping for a few new things. The store we went to had perfume. Sarah had no idea what it was but loved trying it out. It smelled so good she had to ask if she could lick her arm? Sorry honey- it only smells good- it would taste- yucky!
Thank you Jesus for these children!