Stealing and lying
are the big problems for many adoptive families who look for the right
ways to deal with these anti-social acts of their children. It seems
that post-orphanage behavior may be a partial explanation for some of
their kids' problems, but where from can such behavior originate in
young adoptees who came into families early on? Possibly from their
nervous system deficiencies that cause an overall poor cognitive control,
impulsivity, low self esteem, deeply ingrained habits of avoiding, pretending
and covering up everything what's going on with them.
But stealing is stealing; it is reprehensible and needs correction.
So what should families do to turn things around? This difficult
question is the focal point of the latest article by our counselor Jeltje
Simons who provides a realistic, hands-on, multi-faceted methodology
of stealing/lying behavior modification in troubled kids of different
Do you have a story
of your own to share? Did you come up with other working methods that
might help the families in trouble? You are welcome to send us your
thoughts and suggestions.
The Money Is In The Drawer,
Or Is It? Thoughts About Stealing
We all know what the ultimate consequence
is when people take things which do not belong to them. This is on the
back of my mind when I get a call from my child's teacher who found
a banknote in his pocket, or when I dig out his pockets and toys I have
never seen roll out. When I doubt myself if biscuits I had purchased
yesterday are missing. Is it conscious stealing, or just an act of a
toddler inside the delayed child, or the effects of neglect? One thing
is sure: it is a bit of everything, but there is a problem if your money
goes missing, regardless of the reason.
It appears that the hands of my child are "not connected"
to his brain at times. There are some coins laying on the kitchen table
and before I am even fully aware, those are in his pocket. That quick!
I just witness the proof that I had a good night sleep, otherwise I
would not even have time to notice!
How does the world react on young kids who have some 'cute
factor' and steal? The world does not help much: I send the boy back
with the candy bar that he took and then I get very annoyed when the
cashier says: 'It does not matter'. Maybe she says this because she
thinks I feel bad about it, maybe because he gives the impression of
a really young child. But she gives the wrong message and it does matter.
The message for the child who steals should not be a downplay or excuse.
It is a serious problem that needs attention.
It starts like this: your newly adopted child has just
come home, and most days are challenging as that is how most older child's
adoptions begin. It is actually a huge shock to the household to make
a child who is biologically not your own a member of your family. Older
children who have lived in institutions, who do not know what a family
is, those children do not know how to behave in this family; all they
know are the behaviours that served them well in the orphanage.
Most children are super sweet until you want them to do
something on your terms. If you read about this before adopting, you
might think: "Great if that is the only problem my future child
has, I can live with that, how difficult can it be? Those post-orphanage
behaviours are learned behaviours, so with loads of love and a bit of
structure this will surely not going to be a huge problem." The
reality is that in most children adopted at an older age those behaviours
are deeply ingrained. I feel passionate about older child adoptions,
those children deserve to be adopted. But post-orphanage behaviours
are serious and real, the chances that your new child will disappoint
you and will be stealing and lying are very realistic. And the chance
that this is 'just a phase' is small. These are survival and learned
behaviours, and with the right interventions the child can overcome
his feelings of entitlement, but very rarely these are quick fixes.
The neglect those children have suffered was also not caused in a day,
these were years of neglect and the effects are not magically going
'away' because the child is adopted now. Changing them can take years.
Some behaviours become personal characteristics and may always stay
with the child. Their neediness, their longing for attention, their
trauma can last a lifetime; the task might change over the years from
changing the child to teaching the child to live with their limitations.
Your first notice that things go wrong
In my case I was sort of sure I had a 100 in my wallet,
but I was doubting myself, I was stressed, had just adopted a new child,
so I blamed my own mindset for this confusion. It took a week or 2 before
I found 86 or so outside under the trash container. Now I began to realize
that this was the work of the new inhabitant. The first cracks appeared
in my attitude to always believe you little boy, to always trust you