touching fingers


This blog comes from the wonderful Gill Tree at the Adoption Academy


I don’t always get it right. I get it wrong a lot still but when I do it get it right wow is it powerful! and boy does it feel good!

Yesterday my son was kicking off big time, angry teenager and whiny toddler all at once in his 8 year old body. (boy what must that feel like to be him? It must be so exhausting, confusing and frustrating). So staying regulated and not wound up by the onslaught (we had just come back from a fabulous 2 week holiday, so I am still pretty chilled at the moment), I just held out my hand for him to take.

He took it, dissolved into to tears and started to tell me how he was feeling. Wow! Just by holding out my hand I was able to completely de-escalate the situation.

We have been together over 5 years and he is just beginning to open up to telling me what goes on in his inner world. Partly this is maturity, partly this is because we have come a long way, but mainly it is because I have found the right set of keys to unlock his particular door. It takes time to work out what is right for our kids but I am convinced that non-verbal communication and gestures are the way to go.

They say a picture paints a 1000 words and drawing is definitely a great way to express. Imagine how great it would feel if when you are angry you could just paint every thing red! We have red dry wipe markers and my son can scribble red all over the windows or bathroom tiles if he wants to.

Non-verbal communication and gestures bypass logic and communicate very deeply. When we are in another country and can’t speak the language, gestures go a long way to getting our message across.

Researchers Mehrabian and Ferris found that:
•55 percent of the impact of communication is determined by your body language
•38 percent by your voice and tone
• 7 percent by the content or words

So how can you incorporate signs and gestures into your communication with your family?

We have the signal “T” Twith our fingers for timeout when we need to stop the argument

I tap my sons feet to get him to put his shoes on

I stroke his head to indicate bedtime

Thumbs up/down to check if if he’s ok with stuff- the dentist for example

Some gestures and signals will need to be set up. You all agree on the meaning of the gesture and practice them.

Experiment and let me know how you get on.


You can contact Gill via email at and the website is  where she provides adoption support for post adoption stress through improved resilience and enhanced attachments.