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Acorn
Acorn asks:
Q:

How can I get my five year old adopted daughter to stop lying and stealing?

We took in our youngest DD at age 5. Her mother is a drug addict with a long history of lying, crying to manipulate people, stealing and violence.  From the day we took her in DD has had problems with the same issues her mother had.  At that time I felt it was a learned behavior and with a loving, stable and supportive home she would improve. But these issues only seem to be getting worse. She is extremely needy, cries at the drop of a hat, steals (she used to steal frequently now only when she thinks she can get away with it), she is very sneaky and manipulative. But the biggest issue we have with her is the daily lying. OFten about the smallest things.  I just don't know what to do about this problem. Over the years I have explained to her that lying is wrong many, many times. We have read scripture together and i have explained that Jesus wants us to be good truthful people. We have punished her for lying, rewarded her and praised her for telling the truth. Given and taken ways privileges. Grounded her. I even spoke with the sunday school teacher and asked for her help. For a time I went so far as to make her write "I will tell the truth" over and over.  Could this be some kind of medical condition? I am just running out of ideas on how to fix this situation.
In Topics: Discipline and behavior challenges
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Boys Town National Hotline
Apr 7, 2008
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What the Expert Says:

I'd like to echo the comments from Redwood_City_Mom.  You really sound like you are trying to set your daughter up for success, teaching to her behaviors, and not allowing her to manipulate to get what she wants.

Seeing a therapist seems like a very appropriate option at this point.  Some of the behaviors that you are describing sound like that they may be a result of her attachment (or lack of) to a caregiver in the early years of her life.  You may even want to do an internet search on attachment disorders and see if you think that it describes your daughter's behaviors.

Getting her the help that she needs at this age will be extremely important in order to prevent the behaviors from continuing, or getting worse as she gets older.  There are many resources out there including books, video and audio tapes on this subject.  

I wish you the best in getting your daughter the help she needs!

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Additional Answers (11)

Redwood_City_Mom
Redwood_Cit... writes:
Hi Acorn,

Wow, what an hard situation!  I'm so sorry you're having to go through this with your daughter.  It sounds like you're doing lots of things right and clearly you love her very much so it must be so frustrating that things aren't getting better.  

I wish I could give you some great tips or advice from my experience as a mom but honestly I think the best advice would be to try to get her some time with a therapist.  As I was reading your account of her behaviors I kept thinking "this poor little girl is working SO hard!"  I was thinking of how much energy it must take for her to tell all these lies and behave in these ways and she really doesn't have to!  She's stealing little things when I'm sure you've given her everything she needs.  She's going to all the extra effort to get to her summer clothes when you were fully prepared to give her the clothes.  And she's crying so much.  All of this takes so much emotional and physical energy...she must be exhausted!  (And obviously she's very sad which must be heart breaking for you)

I suggest having her see a therapist because I think a professional could find the right questions to ask your DD to help her understand WHY she's making her life so much harder than it has to be.  I'm pretty sure it has nothing to do with you or what you're doing today but rather that it's rooted in what happened to her in the first five years of her life.  Is she maybe testing you to see if you'll give her away?  Does she think she has to create drama in order to be noticed by you?  Has negative attention somehow become more important to her than positive attention?  

You're doing so much for her but it just seems like at this point you might not be able to go it alone.  I do think you're doing lots of things right (it sounds like you do a great job of telling her what the consequences of her behavior will be and then following through if she doesn't meet your expectations.)  That will really help her start to understand limits, thrive in the consistency, etc.  

Please let me know how she's doing (and how YOU'RE doing!)
> 60 days ago

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Boys Town National Hotline
If you are in need of some counseling referrals in your area, you can call your local United Way or you can call the BT National Hotline at 1-800-448-3000.  Both numbers can find you counseling referrals that are based on a sliding fee scale.  
> 60 days ago

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karelg
karelg writes:
Certainly this is a hard situation. We cannot say that genetically she received all this, but her 5 years of development were under the influence of the parents who have similar behavior problems and you know child first 5 years of development are very crucial as most of the habits and practice to do things comes under the influence of parents. Now what you can do on your part is to talk to a child psychologist about her lying and stealing problem. He would definitely suggest you some instructions how to manage these issues. Similarly, you can also adopt a reputable online intervention program that can help you regarding the behavior problems. Some of the renowned programs I know is The Total Transformation or Home Intervention System. I want to quote few lines from home intervention system, " The Home Intervention System will help you deal with a wide range of problems that children often encounter including; anger, substance abuse, school issues, self-esteem, arguing, motivation, interacting with family, and more.
Parents, teachers, school counselors, grandparents, and any other individuals who frequently interact with children will benefit from techniques and concepts presented by the Home Intervention System".
> 60 days ago

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skohlhepp1
skohlhepp1 writes:
Have you taken DD to see a professional counsler of some sort? I was adopted by my aunt and uncle at 5 and to be honest I have never had any sense of self or worth. I am 34 years old and have attempted to kill myself many times. First and foremost you need to understand that you are not the problem. Punishing DD is not going to work!!!! I have been there and I only became more of a problem child. The bottom line issue is that during the first 5 years of life is when a child gets the sense of who they are and how to love. I at 34 have never been in a long term relationship and have constant guilt about being adopted. I beg of you to get DD some help and have her talk to someone.
> 60 days ago

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Amber13
Amber13 writes:
I have the same problems as you do. My step daughter is 6 will be 7 in July. He real mother is not a good person. the mother steals and lies and a drug addict. since we have stopped my step daughter from seeing her mother when she was 3 years old, things have gotten really bad. she steals at school, at home, friends house & family's house. every word out of her mouth is a lie. she is also very needy, cries at the drop of a hat. I didn't know what to do. we are taking her to a therapist, behavior Specialist. they said she is ADHD. since she has started her meds nothing has improved. so i don't know if there is any kind of answer out there if so i would have thought i would have found it. but I'm still looking. i believe in Genetics. the mother is crazy so maybe my step daughter is too. the discipline does not work for her. she does not care about nothing in this world. and at 6 years old she should care about everything. she is very selfish. i know i wasn't much help but i thought i would sure that your not the only one out there with these problems. if i find anything to help ill post it on here. and u do the same please. good luck.!!!
> 60 days ago

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lindajklein
lindajklein writes:
first of all drop the word adopted  to her it has a stigme as she is to young to understand what it means  mine are 8 & 10 and we rarely use the adopted word  they do hear it and it does get to them  mine felt like they weren't mine when i used that word  ask her what she feels about the "word" as my boys say  maybe that will help  she is only 5 qnd that is a lot of info for such a young child  she may be acting out to not feel adopted  try this see if it woks  being wanted is the most important thing to this child  being a "family now" would be her second thing  my boys feel that we are a family now because we all have the same name  lots of luck to you and thank you for adopting this child  they all need to be a family  without that what are any of us but a miguided 5 yr old
> 60 days ago

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sonofmine2
sonofmine2 writes:
I have a son11 and daughter 20.. My daughter would sit in the road (we live on a court) if she got hurt til I came to her to make sure she was ok, of course she just fell down and had a tiny scrape, had to have a bandaid everytime.  My son is very sensitive. But acts out video games.  I told him about a person 9 years old who they put in jail for playing with a girl who he accidently killed.  like he saw on TV (TV show he was acting out was wrestling) but they tried him like an adult.  the childs mind does not think like we do.  I put my children in time out at that age, set the timer, not in their room, but where I could keep an eye on him or her/living room....I would explain How God wrote to us and said not to lie or steal.  He sees us in everything we do. God is watching us.  Explain to her with calm communication before she goes into time out and when she comes out ask her why she had to go to time out. Help Remind her if needed.  Say What a good girl you are and give her a hug and a kiss.  Kids know jail is a place for bad people and they are good. Positive reinforcement.
> 60 days ago

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lamadre
lamadre writes:
We are where you are and my prayers go out to you. get a therepist fast while she is still so young. Have them look into reactive attachment disorder !!!!!! things can change. Read up on it but do not get scared there are many levels of it from mild to very severe and scary sociopath. many children who have been neglected abused suffer from this check out the symptoms.....remember not every child has all symptoms so do not be afraid. A specialist has to help her attachwith you most likely she has spent her early years caring for herself physically and emotionally as the mom was to into drugs to care for her
> 60 days ago

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LLbean
LLbean writes:
Hi I feel your pain. I am so sorry that you have to go thru this pain when you wanted to be helpful and kind to a little girl with problems. It is so easy for us to hear this and say do this do that, very easy to blame others. I am a christian and also I have been teaching Sunday school for a long time. I believe in trusting the lord and working through our problems with out giving up hope. I have seen the same kind of situation where a girl was adopted into a home that was a very caring and the man was a pastor of a church.They did not seek any attention, it got worse. Please seek medical attention start with your pediatrician to see if he can be of help. Some kind of therapy some one who is not a family member may be who she will listen to. I pray that your heart finds peace soon. I am really sorry that you have to go thru this. Do not give up trust Him. Just do not lose hope. Continue loving her regardless as you already have. I will pray for you too.
> 60 days ago

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jythomas
jythomas writes:
When one of my children were younger and had this problem, I too did all the things that you have tried. I solicit the help ad a law official and when my child stole again it took him to the police station. The detective spoke with him and then told me to leave. When my son got up to leave with me he told him no, you will stay because you like to lie and steal and this is where you belong. I could hear my son screaming and it broke my heart but it worked. The detective came to the lobby to get me a few minutes later and I took my son home. Whenever my child stole I held them accountable. They had to take it back to where they got it and explain. This broke up the habit of stealing. Good luck with your child.
> 60 days ago

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hisgirl5101124
hisgirl5101... writes:
Hi my name is Heidi and I am having a similar issue with my 3 yr old step daughter savannah! she is lying every time she comes here i am so fustrated i have tried every thing and dont know what to do! im ready to pull my hair out. I have two other kids that are mine and it causes problems with them as well because my kids were raised correct and do not do that. she is constantly in trouble and just keeps doing it. I thought maybe we could pass suggestions back and forth because im lost and its ruinging my relationship with my fiance! we pushed our wedding date back another year because i cant live like this for the rest of my life. Her mother lies and i think she is picking it up from there. we are in the middle of a custody battle and that doesnt help matters! my email is hisgirl5101124@live.com if you need an ear im around ill look for ya! hope you are having some luck in the situation. I am about to print behavioral charts off the net i found and try that to see what happens. i inserted the site i found for charts they have a lot and also good information, hope that helps ya! ill be checking back here and my email thanks heidi

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