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International Adoption Info

Newsletter #162 for Internationally Adopting Parents
October 15, 2013
PAL Center Inc.

Internet Digest

A Few Other Ideas About Behavior Management

    Valya Telep
    Discipline for Young Children - Responding to Misbehavior
    Sometimes parents are forced to take action despite all their efforts to prevent misbehavior. They may have tried changing the setting, using more "do's" than "don't's," checked on the child's health needs, and still be faced with quarreling, misbehaving children.

James Lehman, MSW
Kids Who Ignore Consequences: 10 Ways to Make Them Stick
Does your child ignore every consequence you give him? This week, James Lehman gives you 10 specific ways to make consequences work—even for the most resistant child.

Sara Bean, M.Ed.
How to Handle Temper Tantrums: Coaching Kids to Calm Down
Believe it or not, there are ways to help eliminate tantrums from your daily life. It starts with understanding the meltdown.

Janet Lehman, MSW
Tuning You Out: When Your Child Ignores You

Do you feel like your teen tunes you out—or just plain ignores you—any time you make a request or try to have a real conversation? If you’re feeling this way, it’s probably not your imagination.


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Tempo Tantrums in Adopted Children

It would not be an exaggeration to say that there are no families with children, especially internationally adopted children, that have never encountered behavioral issues with their kids. In fact, the problems are sometime so severe that the whole family life is ruined and the parents are stuck in the impossible situation of not being able to lead normal and productive life any longer. Thus, managing and preventing tempo tantrums is a must have skill for any adoptive family.

Jeltje Simons, a single adoptive mother of 2 boys age 7 and 12 with significant special needs, shares her unique and successful approach to dealing with tantrums in her children. Before her older son's adoption she worked many years as a nurse in residential settings for children and adolescents with special needs in the Netherlands, Ireland and UK. Her experience, keen observations of her children's behavior and deep insight and appreciation of her kids' needs led her to creation of a working system of home-based support and control over their development. Ms Simons' methods are simple, logical and clearly explained in her article below. Her home made movie, referenced in the article, shows how the child comes out of a tantrum and calms down within a few minutes, without any need for traditional punishment or enforcement of the consequences, without arguments and continuous stress - he recovers naturally.

Jeltje Simons
Preventing Tantrums


Tantrums are quite common in adopted children even long after they have passed the toddler years, and this behaviour can be tricky to deal with. The normal practice of sending the child to his/her bedroom will not work for most adopted children as they are likely to feel rejected and often they need close supervision, otherwise they will probably damage belongings or hurt themselves or others. Ignoring the child is often not the answer either, as his behaviour is likely to escalate in an attempt to gain the parent's attention: any attention - negative or positive - will do.


About the practice of restraining a child who is out of control by holding them. I am not talking about a discredited "holding therapy", but I would not recommend restraining a child physically anyway, as it is easy for the parent to get hurt or unintentionally hurt the child, especially if the parents are not trained in safe restraining techniques. Even if this might work when a child is 4, you will have your hands full when they are 8; and when they are 12 you are likely to need a black belt to have some sort of physical control. What I really want to say is that children grow up very quickly, and it is best to find a method that does not involve testing your physical strength long before they are bigger and stronger.


It is very important to consciously observe your child: you will learn to spot the signs when tension is building up. Sometimes parents say that tantrums and aggression come out of nowhere, but that is very unlikely. The reason the child loses control might not be found in the minutes just before the tantrum; there can be a slow buildup and then something very small may trigger a tantrum. Being able to spot those subtle signs of trouble gives the parent a possibility to interfere with the child's behaviour when he is still responsive.

I believe in preventing tantrums; I do not think that it is beneficial to the parent or the child when the child tantrums to the point of exhaustion. It is not that once the distress is out of their system, the reason why the tantrum started is gone. Adopted children are very complex: surely the cause of a tantrum cannot be a simple request of putting on a clean pair of trousers in a 7 year old or just hearing the word NO. Complex issues are interfering with healthy functioning. There is so much the children do not understand, and they will not understand until their brains have matured enough to process such issues as abandonment, neglect, adoption, etc.

Read the entire article and watch the movie in our recently redesigned Adoption Articles Directory


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