Here are some suggested organisations that offer expert advice on adoption.
ZOMBIE THREAD ALERT: This thread hasn't been posted on for a while.
PS The guy I mentioned is Dr. Harvey Karp.....
I have read an interesting article (The Times - can't find it now) with an American guy who works with tantrums etc and talks about left and right brain stuff. It looked interesting.
I could not find any links to it but I found this article.
I have NOT read the book or used it but just read the article.
I'm not sure how you can help her with her words about missing her birth mum as I am not an adoptive mum myself (yet). Maybe someone else could or you may wish to ask about that on a new thread, there are lots of experienced people on here who are very helpful.
Try and stay strong and remember things will calm down in time. I hope you will get whatever support you can. I do definitely agree that distraction is a good technique before things get going and can work sometimes later too.
I have a four year old, not adopted, but he sometimes has mega-tantrums, especially when there are other things going on for him and he definitely had them at 2 - I haven't changed much in how I deal with them aside from the fact that he is now physically stronger so there are changes I've had to make from that POV.
I find that the best approach is to get down to their level, herd them (or carry if necessary) to a safe place, away from the setting where the tantrum was - so if upstairs you could take her to the sofa, if downstairs taking her to her room might help. Not as a punishment, just as a place to sit down and chill out.
Sometimes just changing the setting is enough to break the tension and they will talk calmly, sometimes it requires more, but the fact you've taken them away from the scene of the original upset helps. If you can contain them in that one room/area then that's useful too (I mean by blocking their exit etc, not locking them in on their own!)
You must ignore everything that they say even if you find it hurtful because they are just lashing out. Don't be tempted to respond to it other than with something reassuring like "Well, I love you." or "Okay." or "That's okay." If they're lashing out physically then don't sit there and take being attacked, but try and stop it in a gentle way by e.g. holding up your own hand to block their hitting, or holding their wrists to stop scratching, pinching, grabbing. You can hold them facing away from you to stop biting and kicking - they can be strong though at 4+! If you have anything like a stairgate they can't get over then you might have to resort to putting them behind that if they are being physically violent and you cannot prevent it, but generally being there and being present even when they're being horrendous is important if you can possibly do it. I have put DS in his room before and closed the door when he's chucking stuff at me because I've felt I had no choice but I've kept on speaking to him through the door in a calm voice saying "I can't come in when you're throwing things. That hurts me. When you calm down I can come in." etc.
Tends to wind my 4 year old up, but if your DD is emotionally at the level of 2 she might respond to this - if you give her a name for the feeling or encourage her to show you how angry etc she is - you could get something like some beanbags and ask her to throw them at the wall and say "Show me how angry you feel! Throw this as hard as you feel angry!" and then when she throws it you can say something like "Wow, you feel REALLY angry about that." It's just about getting her to talk about her feelings and realise that they are okay to have and that they don't have to be a scary overwhelming thing. Some children also respond really well to being asked to draw you a picture of how they're feeling. You could do this when she's feeling calm and happy too, just ask her to draw a picture or describe how she feels when she has certain emotions, join in the conversation yourself, like a PP said you could describe feeling anxious as having a funny feeling in your tummy, and feeling sad like feeling heavy and like there's something stuck to your chest and how anger can feel like boiling water bubbles inside you and sometimes it spills out.
It's really common for upset over unrelated things to spill out over minor issues like losing control of a situation (being asked to do something they don't want to do and not being able to refuse/not knowing how to communicate she doesn't want to) or something happening not as she was expecting, so try not to take it personally when she does flip out over something you've said or done - remember it's not about that, really. Also, if she says things like "I hate you" or "I want to go somewhere else and never ever come back" - the kinds of things which sound terrible to us! - it's more likely that at that moment in time she's not feeling particularly favourable towards you, but it's coming out as "I hate this forever" - that's an age thing as well as a tantrum-related thing, because at her age it's very difficult for her to imagine how she might feel at some given point in the future. Just like when toddlers/preschoolers are having fun, they say things like "I love this. This is my favourite thing in the whole world. X is my best friend. I want to stay here forever and ever." when actually what they mean is "I'm really enjoying this ^right now^" - next week they'll probably have a different best friend, refuse their "favourite" food and get bored quickly of the place they loved before. They're fickle but they don't know it!
And then my only other tip is to make sure at all times she has enough food and enough sleep, and if either is lacking, expect tantrums. If you can at all avoid it try to steer well clear of the hungry/tired hell cycle when they become too tired to eat properly because then it's hell on earth to try to get them to do anything, they're too wired to sleep, they won't eat without creating a huge scene... aargh! But if it does happen be prepared and just keep repeating the mantra... this too shall pass, this too shall pass!
Thanks for all the thoughts, it's great to hear different approaches. I think it's not the tantrum as such that I have a problem with as much as how I handle it, I'm trying not to walk away and let her get on with it as I don't want her to feel rejected/unlovable but the more she over reacts and says hurtful things the more I get wound up and get cross with her about it. I definitely need to let it go and stay calm and I usually manage in the morning but by the afternoon I don't even realise its happening until I've got cross.
I love the grandma's rule thing, that seems a much more positive approach rather than threatening not to do things (which I would follow through). The girls had quite a structured week in foster care so have been trying to continue this here so there is a point to us getting dressed in the mornings!!
Also in the last couple of days she has started to talk about missing her birth mum and I think this has a lot to do with it. She is quite good at telling us she is sad or angry after the event so will try encouraging her to talk about this earlier.
I am finding it difficult meeting both girls needs and do have quite a lot of one to one time with eldest when youngest is asleep but I do feel monopolised by the older girl, she has regressed and wants feeding and mothering like a baby and I worry that this will affect my relationship with the youngest. Am finding it all a lot to get my head round and I so want to get it right for them.
Will persevere! Thanks again
It's mostly worked for us. Althought we did once have an epic "pink boots" tantrum which lasted for HOURS!
what a great idea now your daughter is talking about and understanding her feelings - anxiety/ frustration- that she has "a bad feeling" in her tummy and that her parents will cuddle her to help it.. how lovely.. will use that myself with my young children... great advice
We've had our DD for two years now and have had a lot of tantrums. When she was 3 we taught her that if she was feeling anxious to say that she had a bad feeling in her tummy.
When she started tantrumming we would then ask her if she had the feeling. It would often stop the tantrum completely. We would then wrap her up in a blanket and hold her.
We still got tantrums but it made them rarer and I think it made her feel like she was heard. Worked for us
Lots of pampering/ time out for you is vital so you can be ready for the next tantrum and keep calm, laugh about it later!!
Take care & congrats xxxx
Maybe try Grandma's Rule
When you've got dressed.... we can play shops
When you've had some breakfast.... you can draw with crayons
When you smile like that.... you are so pretty/ i feel so happy
When you share with your sister.... you can have some fruit/cheese snacks
When you've are quiet and calm... we can try again
Agree with others- humour is a God Send! e.g.
Oh Dear the tantrum Bunny is hopping mad again! I will have to wait until she stops that noise/is quiet and we can see our gorgeous girl again
Or any game that you can use to deflect her anger
Role modelling a quiet calm mummy is the greatest weopon you have and way more powerful than threats which undermine your precious loving relationship
dont underestimate how much they are learning from seeing/ hearing /watching your behaviour- they will behave just like you one day, maybe soon (and they will try hard to behave nicely now but its normal for all ages especially toddlers and very young children to test boundaries often)
What you say they are is what they become
If you say
You are great at putting on those clothes
You smile so beautifully
They will be most likely to keep showing those rewarded behaviours
Sounds like the honeymoon period is coming to an end and she is really now going to push those boundaries.
Try and stay calm, deep breaths, count to ten.
Reward the good behaviour and try to ignore the bad.
One to one time is important.
Child led play without you asking lots of questions is goo, just comment on what she is doing.
Time in rather than time out is the best way for attaching children.
Do not threaten to do anything that you are not prepared to carry out, threatening does not really work anyway.
Use humour as much as you can, try and make jokes of difficult situations, it often diffuses the battle.
Be consistent and above all loving.
Good luck and congratulations.
I struggled with my daughters tantrums because I really wanted her to behave in a certain way and in time I relaxed a bit, I feel sometimes tantrums need to kind of run their course and at the end the child needs to relax and not be overly punished for losing their cool.
If they are hitting or biting or breaking things then of course that will need to be addressed in some way, but if they are 'just' not complying with what you want them to do then in some ways I would relax a bit and just take it as situation you can't alter in the immediate future. So to some extent you need to kind of sit it out.
This is JUST my thoughts! Ignore me or seek wiser guidance.
I now have a part time job and my DD is in school so things like getting dressed and eating breakfast need to be done or the whole day grinds to a halt! But when a child is quite young, maybe 2, sometimes it is possible more to go at their pace, if you are not working outside the home and if school is not yet compulsory.
I know one of your DDs is 4 and not 2 but if she is not yet at compulsory school it is not such an issue if she gets dressed a bit later or eats breakfast a bit later.
Of course you do not want this to go on forever but if you can allow the schedule to be a bit more slow then that might help.
Personally, I would also try and pre-empt the tantrum by getting her involved in limited choices. So you could have two cereals, the tiger or the Gofer brand (or whatever - we tend to know the cereals by the animal on the box). Ask her to choose which of the two and to help you set the table for the three of you.
She can help because she is a big girl etc.
I agree not too many choices and as much as possible this is what we are doing but I would be relaxed about exactly when it happens.
It might also help if once she has complied with the getting dressed etc there is a trip to the park or walk in the garden to look for snails or whatever to look forward to!
I would also add that once the tantrum is over she may well want to hug you or she may want distance to cool off but once she is ready to come and hug you - be ready for her and if possible try not to allow it to sour how you feel. They are not fully in control in a tantrum so they might say hurtful things. I do think it is right to let kids know that the things they say are hurtful but it is best not to allow it to hurt you too much otherwise you may (as I did sometimes, to my shame, say mean things back because it can be hurtful to hear mean words and it is easy to reply in a mean way - I am sure you do not but I did!).
If your DD can count to 5 or 10, I'd also encourage her when she gets angry or starts to get angry a kind of take deep breaths and count to ten - the kind of thing to relax, it is very hard for a 2 year old and your 4 year old may not manage it but if she sees you doing it she just might catch on.
This might help her (or you) before the tantrum gets under way.
If you have tried all this please ignore me!
My tantrum days are (for the moment) behind me!
Just my thoughts, feel free to ignore.
Hi TLoubieL congratulations on your new family and sorry if there are these tantrums. They can feel very draining.
My DD is not adopted and is now 8, but when she was younger we had some massive upsetting tantrums and even as recently as six months ago had some rather bad behaviour.
I am just at the end of a course called the Family Links Nurturing Course, which is centred around the book The Parenting Puzzle. This is not a book specifically for adopted children and you may wish to talk to someone about its suitability for your situation.
However, although not specifically for adopted children I would say it is a very child centred book, which helps in so many ways.
The book and the course centre around four factors - empathy, self awareness and self esteem, positive discipline and appropriate expectations. So also covering children with self esteem which you mention as an issue.
I have had my two since october too - they are 2 and 7.
I know there will be more advice along soon but few things I have found really helpful are:
not to ask, but to tell. So not, 'do you want to come to breakfast?' but 'its time for breakfast now and that is what we are doing'.
Anything you can do together, simple baking, crafts (my 2 year old loves dribbling glue and will do for 30 mins or so - leaving me more time with the 7 year old), with lots of 'Good girl' praise for both.
An obvious (to dd) routine helps, we always watch Peppa pig at noon (regardless of behaviour).
Have you thought about letting her stay up for half an hour after little sis? So you have defined 'special time'. Or even a bath night (not bathing together) where she will get your attention 100%?
I have 2 dd who were placed in Oct, age 4 and 2. They are wonderful girls and I can't believe how lucky we are. OMy main concern is our 4 year old is having some major tantrums, screaming, sobbing and kicking things and I am not sure I am handling these very well.
The tantrums are usually because I have asked her to do something (like come for breakfast/ to get dressed) or because I am doing something for her younger sister (like changing her nappy or picking her up when she falls). I find myself getting really cross with her and find myself telling her off or threatening not to do something in order to get her to stop, this tends to provoke a very panicky over reaction from her.
Our social worker says that she is emotionally functioning at the level of a 2 year old and has very low self esteem. I am worried that my responses are not helping with this.
I was wondering if any one had any advice/strategies that they use that are more positive?
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