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Susy
Susy asks:
Q:

We recently adopted a 12yr old boy, at first he was an angel and now he is having temper tantrums and will not listen, How can we control him?

In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Jun 26, 2009
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What the Expert Says:

Children that are adopted at an older age can sometimes present difficult behavior challenges because they've had many years to learn and practice dysfunctional behaviors.  Keep in mind that it will take some time to "undo" the negative things he has learned.  When a child first enters a new environment it's common to see what we call "honeymoon" behavior. This may explain his seemingly perfect behavior at first. This is especially possible if you took your son out of a place where he was treated badly or abused. Honeymoon behavior is usually when a youth acts "perfect" for the first few weeks or months after arriving at a new placement or environment. They will follow the rules, are pleasant to be around, and get along well with others. Their negative behaviors often disappear for a short time because their new environment is new and exciting. However, as they learn the rules and become more comfortable, their "real" self begins to come out and their negative behaviors again, begin to surface.

Do you know much about the environment your son came from? Did he have behavior problems before coming to live with you? If so, do you know how they were handled? It's very common for adoptive children to display a certain amount of difficulty in adjusting to their new home. Sometimes they will act out by hitting, yelling, or teasing someone to see if their caregiver is going to stick with them or leave. This stems from a fear of being abandoned. Adoptive children may also act out because it's the only way they know how to get attention. Depending upon their history they may have learned that the only way to get attention was to get into trouble, or if he came from an orphange or group home he may be using getting into trouble as a survival technique.

The best thing you can do for your son right now is be consistent. This may be the first time he has experienced consistency in his life and he's not sure how to handle it. Try to maintain a consistent daily routine that includes mealtimes, bedtimes, and discipline. Be consistent in the negative consequences he receives for his negative behavior and continue to give him LOTS of positive praise for his good behavior!! Remind him that he is loved and you will not abandon him. It may take him a while, but don't give up!

If you want to talk to a counselor feel free to call us at the Boys Town National Hotline. We're here 24/7 and it's free to call. We can be reached by calling 1-800-448-3000.

Boys Town National Hotline

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Additional Answers (3)

Feetofftheground
Feetofftheg... writes:
You have experienced the Honey moon and it is now over. Some kids go through a peiord of being on their best behavior so that the adopted family will complete the process. But once the honey moon days are over the child relaxes and their true being comes to light. We have several adopted children and each was different, but did you get all the back ground information on your child before hand? School records, counseling records, behavior issues, family back ground if any. My daughter was 6 months old when we adopted her, she is now 12 for the past 10 years her behavior has been off the hook. She was diagnosed as ADD, with ODD, we had to put her in the hospital for behavior and found out she is Bi-polar with ODD and it has been a long road. You may want to find out any past history issues that he may have experienced, abuse, neglect etc. Then find a good doctor and have him evulatated for testing to make sure there are no under lying issues with his health.and get some referrels from there.  It took us 10 years and I know it is not the end of her issues but I know now how to better handle things. But it is still one day at a time with her
> 60 days ago

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CreativeRachna
CreativeRac... , Child Professional, Teacher writes:
Congratulations on adopting your son!  Children have a hard time expressing their frustrations.  Because they have less language, tantrums are sometimes the only way they can get across to their parents the message that something is wrong.  While this can be a frustrating experience, there are several Education.com articles on how to deal with tantrums.  
http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Temper_Tantrums_2/

This second article explains how to react in the midst of a meltdown.
http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Temper_Tantrums_How/

I hope this helps!
Best,
Rachna
> 60 days ago

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Loddie1
Loddie1 , Parent writes:
A couple of things... This child has probably been through a lot. So try to keep that in mind when he "acts out". Seek first to understand then be understood...is an old saying and very correct. I think the best thing to do is try to let this boy have his emotions as long it does not become destructive for now. He is still adjusting to the house and the rules. Pray and take him to church. Maybe put him in a local youth group.

One idea would be to enroll him in some yoga classes or a sport of some kind (soccer, karate, etc,). Kids can channel frustrations in classes like these and it usually benefits them in the self-esteem area.

Another idea is art therapy at home. Simply go to Micheal's or any other craft store and buy some acrylic paints and a canvas. Have some time set aside for art and let him paint what he wants. Art therapy is a good way for someone to express what he or she can't day or do otherwise.

Finally, I would enforce rules and consequences that are fair. Sit down and talk to him about what he feels is important in a home. Then explain what you feel is important and why. Make up reasonable rules and consequences. Remember to follow through with him on everything you promise or say :)

Good Luck :) And remember you are all he has.
> 60 days ago

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