First few days of placement!

(30 Posts)
Tishtash2teeth Tue 20-Nov-12 19:16:28

Our little sausage 3.5 yr old little boy moved in yesterday. We have had a really good start - he seems settled and haven't had any tears for FC yet. He went to bed easily last night and slept through the night, tonight he went down easily again.

He's a lovely little boy and we're really starting to bond with him. We're doing lots of positive praising but I was just wondering what sanctions people use if they continue to be naughty?

Devora Tue 20-Nov-12 20:39:51

Hi, congratulations on the arrival of your son! I have a 3yo adopted dd so I should have more expertise on this than I do (because my discipline methods seem to mainly rely on shouting blush which i don't actually recommend), but I would say what is probably obvious: be careful about methods like time out and naughty step in these early days, because you want to be cementing his bond with you, not pushing him away to punish him.

Kew will probably be along soon to talk about 'time in', which I think she has used very effectively with her son.

Have you read the Tiddlers and Toddlers book?

Congratulations! What a lovely Christmas you're going to have smile

With our DS 2.10 we use time out on the 'naughty chair'. We give him a warning that what he is doing isn't nice & if he continues he will have to sit on the naughty chair. Sometimes the warning alone works & he stops hitting his sister over the head with his train track

If not then he goes on the naughty chair for 2 minutes. Getting down to his level we explain why he is there & leave him for the 2 minutes (we use a small kitchen timer) he is usually very remorseful by this stage & starts wailing. When the 2 mins are up we again say why his behaviour was not acceptable & 99% of the time he apologises, we have a kiss & a hug & he corrects his behaviour by apologising to sister or picking up toys he refused to earlier.

We even had to sit DD on naughty chair at 6 months old grin she bit DS & he was very upset and straight away said 'mummy DD needs to sit on the naughty chair'. I did it as it seemed only fair & if I hadn't was afraid it'd stop working with DS as it really does work for us.

Kewcumber Tue 20-Nov-12 22:54:50

Sorry to disagree with RainDear, but I would never use the concept of a "naughty chair" with a very newly adopted child, unless you have a very very clear picture of what discipline was used in foster care and perhaps more importantly before foster care with birth family.

If he has gone off to bed with no tears for FC's (unless he wasn't very bonded to them) then my guess would be that he is on best behaviour at the moment, he isn't secure enough with you to really push it - what kind of things are you needing to discipline him for?

Do you have other children - because if you do, then the need to keep them safe if he is violent will be a concern; if no other children then its perhaps a bit easier as you're not necessarily worried about that (unless he's extremely violent!).

Some of the "discipline" he needs may just be a case of gradually teaching him what is acceptable to you and what isn't - and that may be different to what "rules" he's followed in the past. It may be that a firm but kind "we don't do that in our family" and removing the problem or "we do X in our family how quickly can you get X done?", may be enough.

I have used time-in very effectively but more often in behaviour which is a bit more than "normal" misbehaviour. I could never use time out or "naughty step/chair" he has always been terrified of exclusion and I realised very quickly that it was a cruel punishment for him and out of proportion to the actual behaviour.

Kewcumber Tue 20-Nov-12 22:55:35

Devora - I do my share of shouting! Particularly getting out of the house in the morning.

Tishtash2teeth Tue 20-Nov-12 23:28:07

The area we are concerned about is him hitting, pinching, pulling the dogs ears. We went to soft play and for no reason he pushed a little boy over. He previously lived with an older brother who hit and kicked and he seems to be copying that behaviour

Kewcumber Tue 20-Nov-12 23:48:51

I would take him away from the dog (put them in separate rooms if you can, give dog lots of sympathy and praise) - say "we don't hit/pinch/push in our family if you do it again you will have to come and sit with me and read stories with me."

I had to go through a phase of zero tolerance ie DS would be told that there would be no "warnings", no one or two strikes before you were "out" - any infringements would result in us packing up and going home.

Depends how bad it is really - as you're so early on I would be tempted to try the firm but fair warning first time but supervise heavily - you may need to watch him like a hawk for a while.

KristinaM Wed 21-Nov-12 08:32:52

If he moved in yesterday there is NO WAY he shoudl be at soft play or anything like that. He needs quiet days at home with you. No visitors either. Bond to you two and a dog is quite enough to be getting on with

Kewcumber Wed 21-Nov-12 12:23:45

Actually I agree Kristina - I had totally overlooked that!

Soft play areas bring out the worst in any child never mind a child that is probably totally overwhelmed by all the changes that have happened to him.

Lilka Wed 21-Nov-12 12:26:25

Congratulations Tish smile

When my DS was 3 (and I still use it now and with my even older one sometimes), I used time in, quite like Kew. I would view hitting other children as a sign that he might be getting quite overwhelmed and need some space, so I would take him aside and sit quietly together for a bit, perhaps whilst holding him on your lap if that is calming. It's not a punishment, but time to regulate himself. It must be very hard for him as well after all, if he's getting to the stage he wants to lash out

With my DS, I did this a lot. Like Kew's son, he's quite insecure and fears abandonnement so time in with me works loads better than time out, which has the opposite effect of igniting fears. We usually either sit quietly or sometimes we do something simple and repetitve together eg. folding laundry and a couple of times I've sung him a lullaby type song whilst cuddling him. Depends on why we needed the time in in the first place

Funnily enough, I don't get very shouty with him, but I can do with my middle one. I think it's a personality thing as much as anything else, plus she's deliberatly pushing buttons and shouts, he doesn't

I tried taking toys away, no success with that

Lilka Wed 21-Nov-12 12:28:59

ps. Maybe soft play so soon is too overwhelming. I agree they seem to bring out the worst in many kids. Staying mostly at home for a while is usually best but it doesn't work for every child. If you want or need to get out to do things there should be some quieter stuff around

Kewcumber Wed 21-Nov-12 12:52:18

I think getting out to playgrounds which aren't too busy and where you can join in with him rather than leave him to his own devices are a better bet if you have a child who is struggling to control their impulses.

My DS and Lilka's always sound so similar in their behaviours that it makes me smile! Confiscating toys doesn't work here eitehr except in very minor situation like you can't play with X until you have Y but otherwise not.

Tishtash2teeth Wed 21-Nov-12 13:44:09

Thank you for the advice. I am going to use time in with him if he hits/kicks etc us or the dogs. Soft play we went to was extremely quiet (only two other children there). We thought it would help him burn off some energy and we went round with him, but your probably right of was oo soon.

They only thing we are struggling with is how to entertain him all day long! Any activity ideas would be very welcome!

michmumm Wed 21-Nov-12 14:02:30

congratulations on your new child! you are in for the most amazing time of your life and everything you have been through to get to this point will have been worth it. We came home with our DS last June. He was 17 months old. I am not a follower of a lot of the theory proposed about adopted children and what you should and should not do. we did not isolate ourselves at the beginning but were mindful of quiet time and busy time. we allowed our family to touch and hug him as long as he seemed happy to receive the affection. as Kew said - at the beginning he was at his best behaviour because he was not feeling safe. Rather than worry about this we used it to reinforce behaviours we liked through praise. as he settled and started with normal, age appropriate behaviours then we used verbal cues and when that does not work he his a time out corner. its right next to my chair - it has a big comfy cushion and a few toys and books. he sits there with me next to him until he has calmed down we can 'discuss' what he did wrong. sometimes it takes more than one go to get him settled but it has always worked for us eventually. as he has gone thru the terrible 2's there have been weeks when the space is used daily and weeks where its not needed.
the best advice I can offer you is to forget now that he is adopted - it is done and now part of his history. he is now your son. treat him like a normal child and when he misbehaves know in your heart its because he is a child not because he is adopted. if he does develop emotional or behavioural problems treat them as any parent would - as a problem that needs solving not the child. good luck and enjoy being a parent.

michmumm Wed 21-Nov-12 14:04:05

PS - i do shout at him - some days every few seconds( i think) .

Kewcumber Wed 21-Nov-12 14:38:21

They only thing we are struggling with is how to entertain him all day long! Any activity ideas would be very welcome!

Biggest nightmare at first isn't it?! And it was easier for me as I have a baby/toddler.

We went to the park a lot

Split the day into slots and take your time getting through them. I became a bit sargent major'ish initially. EG

Breakfast then tidy with him helping you and lots of praise for helping.
Off to park for long run around
Home for chill out (perhaps in front of DVD or tv before lunch
Lunch - perhaps he can help in some way then help tidy up afterwards
Bit of quiet time drawing/colouring/lego/duplo/cars etc
Do you have family locally - I found a visit to my mums before or after tea was great because he was quite bonded to her and she was very local.
A potter around M&S early learning centre always wastes and hour!

You will be surprised how quickly you start developing a routine but its very early days at the moment.

Kewcumber Wed 21-Nov-12 14:44:34

I don't forget DS was adopted - I don't treat his behaviour any differently to other children I don't think though. I deal with his behaviour as it crops up just the same as anyone else. However over the years, having half an eye on his background has helped inform me when it comes to deciding whats causing the problem and therefore approaches that might work well. It also helps me identify potential problems ahead.

I wish I had actually realised that it was abandonment issues that were causing some of DS's problems as I would have treated him slightly differently when he was a toddler. I was so convinced that he had no issues that I didn't see that some of his behaviours were unusual and a didn't really tackle them for some years. Appreciating why he did some things also made me more patient on occasion (though not always!)

KristinaM Wed 21-Nov-12 17:45:52

I agree with kewcumeber. You woudl be very foolish to forget your child is adopted. He has been abandoned at least twice, by his birth family and then by his foster carers. Assuming he has only had one set of excellent carers from his birth, which would be very unusual.

He has been exposed to high levels of stress in utero, and perhaps to drugs and alcohol. He probably has a genetic vulnerability to addictions and mental illness-it's a rare adoptee these days who doesn't have these in their birth family.

He is alreday very vulnerable to attachment issues. Dealing with these shoudl be your top priority. Sadly they are not " done now" . It's not history -it's what he lived through. If you can't accept that you will have difficulty accepting your child. I'm afraid he's NOT a blank slate and all the denial in the world will my change this. He not your biological child and he's had a very poor start in life. That shouldn't make him any less yours. You need to accept him as he is, not how you want him to be.

Mich umm-if you had adopted in the UK you woudl have had training and support from your adoption agency which woudl have covered these issues with you, and you woudl have been encouraged to read books and attend courses about it. I'm sorry you have missed out on thsi preparation

KristinaM Wed 21-Nov-12 18:13:14

I forgot to answe the OPs question about what to do with a 3yo all day.

Mostly he should be with you and /or his father . He can help you while you do things around the house. Loading the dishwasher or doing water okay in the sink. Sorting out cutlery. Vacuuming ( if he's not scared). Preparing meals. Baking. Cutting vegetables for soup.

Painting, play doh. Lego. Play in the garden if you have one or the park if you don't. Walking the dog. Cycling or skootering.

As little screen time as humanly possible. He needs to spend nearly all of his waking hours with you. Certainly only mums and dad shoudl do all bathing, reading stories, cuddles etc. it doesn't matter if he's happy to cuddle anyone. It's not about what he wants, it's about what he needs.

michmumm Wed 21-Nov-12 19:21:33

I want to say that i know all children are different and so are their families. What i am writing is based on MY experiences and is MY opinion. Please read this with that in mind.

Knowing what my child needs is a tricky part of parenting. At the beginning I only had the most basic info about my DS and what his life had consisted of before coming to us. It was a combination of common sense and watching him that helped me understand his world and his needs. It's an ongoing process and things change all the time so it is vital for me to remain flexible. I did all the training and courses, read the books and have a great deal of child caring experience. I am also a psychotherapist with many years experience. All of this is secondary to my abilities as a mother. Very often when children are given labels a form of secondary stigmatisation occurs. I never forget that my DS spent the first 17 months of his life in less than ideal circumstances and that I need to be vigalent at all times for problems. I unconditionally accept my son for all he was, is and will be. I am proud to be his mother, I love him to the sun, moon and beyond and I am greatful that his birth mother made the choice to give him a better life. (I know this is not the case with many children who are placed for adoption but I was the case with our DS). all that is in his past has made him who he is. If he develops issues - dealing with them in the here and now but acknowleging his past will be our choice. For us adoption is a legal concept - being an integrated family is an emotional and practical reality. We have to live with our families in real time and pathologising his past won't help him in any way.

michmumm Wed 21-Nov-12 19:29:24

On a practical note:-
Weather permitting- playground, sandpit, ducks, zoo, kids museums( not in holiday time), petting farms, swimming, long walks
Inside/ at home:- cooking, baking, trains, play dough, books, blocks, colours, shapes, counting. See a web site called 'plat-at-home-mom' - it's an American site but she has the most amazing ideas ( some not practical for most of us!)
Having a schedule is vital.
Having a daily as well as weekly routine helps.
Allow yr DC some free time as well.

Tigglette Wed 21-Nov-12 19:42:54

Certainly only mums and dad shoudl do all bathing, reading stories, cuddles etc. it doesn't matter if he's happy to cuddle anyone. It's not about what he wants, it's about what he needs.

This, your little one may well be happy to cuddle anyone and let anyone care for him but that tends to be because he's used care being pretty inconsistent and taking what he can get from whomever, whenever. Little ones who come for adoption may not have a sense of mum and dad as carers and so need to build that understanding and develop secure attachments to those carers. There's a big gap between remembering a child is adopted, amending parenting techniques to support their healthy development, and this being a source of stigma.

Congratulations on your new little one Tish, such exciting times!

KristinaM Wed 21-Nov-12 19:55:51

That's interesting michmumm, can I ask what type of psychotherapy you practise?

I can only assume that your child comes from a very different background from nearly all the children adopted in the UK. Here nearly all children come from birth families affected by addictions, learning difficluties , doemstic violence and /or mental Health problems . Here these are all considered pathological , as in the sense of abnormal and not the best environment for children.

However, even if a child has been born into a perfect or even good enough family and some tragedy has meant they cannot remain with their birth parenst or anyone in their extended family, it is still a terrible trauma for the child to lose them and move to another family. I cannot comprehend why you woudl think that thsi is normal and woudl not affect a child.

Anyway I can see we have diametrically opposite views about the influence of the past on an individual . And I'm sure it won't help the OP for us to debate epistomological theory . I hope things work out well for you and your family

Tishtash2teeth Wed 21-Nov-12 19:59:00

Lots of ideas here and I will definitely look at that website. We have a nice bedtime routine set up and he has responded really well to that. No tears at bedtime at all so far. Our morning routine is shaping up nicely too. Doesn't help that the weather has been so rubbish and we haven't been able to go outdoors for any length of time yet.

Tonight at the dinner table DH gave me a big kiss on the cheek and little sausage said "'me kiss mummy too" and got off his seat and gave me a big kiss. Had swallow a massive lump in my throat!!!

KristinaM Wed 21-Nov-12 20:03:45

That's lovely smile.well done on getting a routine established. I'm sure that will help him settle

FamiliesShareGerms Wed 21-Nov-12 20:31:32

Wow, a lot on this thread!

Firstly, congratulations on bringing your son home! This is an amazing time, but it is so intense, overwhelming, and emotional, for both you and your son.

Secondly, soft play is the devil's playground, and even on a quiet day, suggest you keep to calmer stuff for the early days.

Thirdly, we use a "naughty cushion" for DD, because she does need time out occasionally (she can get really worked up, and is so stubborn she finds it hard to step back from her position) but the threat of it is usually enough. We only use it in the room we are in at the time (if we are out and about I say I will look for one, but have only had to improvise a few times!)

Fourthly, I do agree somewhat with michmumm that not all adopted children need a very different parenting style, but DD did have the very unusual start that Kristina mentioned (one set of fabulous FC from birth) so in many ways she is not like many adopted children. I fully expect us to have horrific teenage years or something as payback, but at present we aren't having to deal with the issues that many of our prep group friends are struggling with. And we do mostly forget that she is adopted.

Fifthly, nothing wrong with a bit of CBeebies! All the other suggestions that people have put out are good. Personally, I found a mixture of playgroups / toddler singing on a couple of days, plus a couple of days with no commitments the best combination. Downtime is really important, don't try to cram too much in. Eating at regular times helps break up the day into a routine, but i think most toddlers like regular patterns to their time. And avoid soft play! grin And Kristina is spot on about making sure that the parents are the only ones who do the key care things (washing, nappies, feeding etc)

Kewcumber Wed 21-Nov-12 20:44:52

michmumm- I'm not sure what has lead you to believe that I have "pathologised" DS's past. I regret not being more understanding of where DS's behaviours came from in the early year or two, I regret being proud of the fact that he had so few problems, that he went to bed on his own so readily, was very compliant with authority etc on the surface he was the epitome of an adopted child with no issues at all. I regret that I valued this conformity because it actually enabled me to ignore some of the issues that were bubbling under the surface around his separation and abandonment issues which I had to tackle later rather than earlier.

Yes of course every child and every family is different but I don't see it being a problem listening to the experiences of others further ahead in the game of adoptive and taking from it things which help my family. I still learn much from this forum and adoptive parents in real life whose family are further down the road from me.

I'm grateful for the advice and support I've had from others and I wish I'd realised that the additional parenting requirements that DS had were really only going to be apparent in his case from around age 3. I do feel that if I'd had my wits about me a bit more and was more attuned to his additional needs caused by the life he'd had before me that I would have tackled some of his issues from day one (or at least not two years later).

So I make no apologies for drawing attention to the fact that many many adoptive children are going to require some additional parenting skills and the earlier you recognise what your child requires the better for them. And if they turn out to have none, then lucky you, you haven't lost anything by being vigilant.

it is done and now part of his history but to your son and the general public that isn't true I'm afraid. He will start to tell people he is adopted if he is anything like DS when he starts school and very quickly you will find that it isn't something so easy to consign to "history". "Why did your real mum give you up" will crop up and need to be dealt with not just on a practical level but an emotional one too, you will have lovely school projects involving bringing in baby photos and projects to write about what you experienced in your first year, science projects plotting your parents/grandparents/siblings eye colour and yours to show how genetics works. All of these don't just raise practical issues but emotional and sometimes behavioural ones too. And if you are going to wait for them to arise and deal with them as they happen then you're going to be hijacked quite frequently when your DC start school.

I understand that you don't agree but I took a similar approach in the first year or so after DS came home with me and I regret it. I'm not saying you will but I hope that there is some value in my admitting my shortcomings publicly to other parents with this ahead of them otherwise I'm washing my dirty linen in public for nothing!

Anyone who has met me will confirm that I am the least likely parent to use DS's adoption as some kind of cop out for bad behaviour or that he somehow needs a label. But I firmly believe in our case that my gradual acceptance that his adoption did indeed cause certain behaviours help me parent him more effectively. Treating his adoption as an irrelevance certainly wouldn't work for us but its not a overwhelming presence in ours lives.

Kewcumber Wed 21-Nov-12 20:46:13

sorry that turned into a bit of an essay blush

Tish I don't know much about adoption yet - as still only at the start of our journey - but just wanted to say congratulations.

I also wanted to answer your question about what to do to fill the time with a little one.

I have birth DD who loves craft and we do a lot of craft. We use every day stuff like safe junk, (cereal boxes, washed platsic food cartons etc, chocolate boxes etc), our DD creates robots, rockets and everything imaginable. We also buy paper, stickers etc to add to the materials we can use. We trail jumble sales and charity shops, and Christmas Bizarres, for second hand craft stuff. We also found the dressing up box a great play thing for DD when little friends visited (as I am sure they they will in the future). NCT sales of second hand toys are good places to get 'new' stuff and dressing up constumes.

You can also make stuff like bird feeders out of apples and yoghurt pots, and insect houses out of boxes and cardboard bits. Part of the fun being to watch for the visitors (not yet been brave enough to put the insect house in the garden yet!).

In the past few years we have tried gardening and we have enjoyed going out to all kinds of places like garden centres (they sometimes have pets!) and actviely look for places unusual to visit like the wolf sanctuary, which is only open about three times a year (yes, that will all be for the future when you are going out more).

I am hoping (if we are lucky enough to get through this journey) to collect the art work and other stuff the little one will produce. I'd recommend making compiling them into some sorts of scrap books all part of the fun, otherwise you end up (as we have) with a wardrobe full of art and no idea of when it was created.

IF your little one is not arty you could find a lot of other stuff, like music, listening to it together, making it together, making instruments (maracas) and recording the sound of playing or singing etc, making up songs together, or whatever.

If they are sporty have a sports day, running races together round the garden (if you are lucky enough to have the space) and playing simple versions of all the usual sporty things.

We have just found some of this stuff more fun, cheaper and more enjoyable than bought toys. You'll also find some things more enjoyable, if you record your fun with lots of photos etc it might help him later to identify what was good, what he's like to do more or again, especially if he doesn't always have the language to remember what you did, what you made etc. Does that make sense?

Enjoy it all and congrats again.

KristinaM Fri 23-Nov-12 07:30:55

Great post greyhound smile

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