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Taking debit card without permission

7 replies

IssyKS · 28/03/2021 09:25

I posted about a different but related issue on the non adoption boards and was directed here for more specialist advice. Ad11 was placed with us just before turning 6. She has settled in well and most challenges have reduced hugely. However, I think some are now just starting to surface as the more obvious demands have faded.
A few weeks ago she trashed her Xmas present iPad out of rage. It was totally out of proportion to the incident. It hasn’t been replaced and won’t be until she ‘earns’ something towards it. This is a combo of little jobs and extra homework to try and catch up. It’s not really happening but she understands and it’s all pretty calm. I have started to relent and allow some laptop time in the kitchen after homework or weekends. Yesterday she took my debit card and within about 30 minutes spent £86 on stars table. I’m just gutted. She knows it’s wrong. Twice previously she has spent over £100 on Robux. Once when I had a new phone and I’d forgotten to block in app purchases and the 2nd time when she worked out iTunes password.
I feel like the internet police or some sort of spy that I’m hiding devices, changing passwords, monitoring screen time. I try to relax and give her some autonomy but it never works. I guess she’s just got very poor impulse control. I chatted it through with her this morning and I can tell she’s sorry she got caught but is happy she got a new flipping horse. I honestly think she thinks it was worth it. I haven’t even told Dh yet as they’re having such a lovely weekend and I don’t want to spoil it but I’m moping as I’m just so sad. I’m just looking into future and all I can see is me licking away the gin and my purse.

Any advice?

OP posts:
Jellycatspyjamas · 28/03/2021 16:41

I remember your last thread, I’m sorry things are still tricky.

First thing I’d do is lock up any way of purchasing online, don’t store your card details on site or set up a verification code (my bank texts me a code every time my debit card is used before the transaction goes through). That way she can’t keep getting herself in trouble.

I’ve found a Go Henry card excellent for my two. It’s a paid for card that you have full control over. You can pay money into it, allow store purchases, online purchases or both and can also set a weekly spend limit so she can’t blow all her money at once. You have the app on your phone to control the card and can set up your fingerprint as the pass key to put money on etc. It means my kids have access to their birthday money etc but can’t blow it all on Roblox, and they can’t transfer money into it without me.

In terms of the iPad, until you’re sure she’s able to control her temper, I’d replace it with something cheaper that won’t be such a heartbreak if it gets broken. My two have cheap tablets (both now with cracked screens), but it’s no big deal in that they didn’t cost a fortune and they have the option to use their pocket money to have the screens fixed if they want. I’m not replacing them any time soon.

In terms of impulse control and self regulation, do you have any therapeutic support? At her age she may really benefit from therapy - her hormones will be all over the place and cognitively she may be starting to understand her adoption differently, some help with all of that might be needed sooner rather than later.

How have things been up until now? Has anything changed?

IssyKS · 29/03/2021 15:15

Thank you so much for your response.

The verification code is a good idea- didn't think of that. When she's done it in the past it wasn't with a debit card so I didn't think she would do that at all, but she's getting older. I think I have everything locked down and she finds a chink. She has a Go Henry card and I did think that was working well. One day I went out without my card so upped her limit to buy some groceries. I put the money straight back in from my account. Later that night she cleared all of her savings and birthday money on Robux. She didn't even know I'd removed her limit. Did she get lucky or does she try a lot?
How old are yours ? Are they adopted ? I'm wondering if she is emotionally mature enough to understand money at the moment?
After this all happened on Saturday afternoon and she was very sorry, I've now discovered she got up at 3am on Sunday, hacked into BT Parental Controls and spent another £15. I'd switched internet off on all devices between 10pm and 8am so thought nothing could go wrong.
We're just accessing ASF now. Her BM made contact with her on social media a few weeks ago and I think it has maybe destabilised her. She was absolutely terrified, but I'm not sure if I'm looking for excuses or she just has poor impulse control.
At least with tantrums etc when they're younger you've got all that contained at home. I'm so worried about her going to high school as she's going to have to start making some choices herself and I think she'll struggle.

OP posts:
Jellycatspyjamas · 29/03/2021 15:39

My two are adopted and my DD is 9, with similar issues around impulse control and understanding. She was placed with us at a similar age to your girl and would do something similar, pushes ever boundary - sometimes it’s purposeful in that she knows I’ve said “no” but without understanding the impact or consequences of what she’s done.

I think it’s part of the trauma stuff in that she’s got very used to finding her own way, eg she’s needed to manipulate and look for loopholes just to get fed properly. Following rules has been dangerous for her - in that she’d be hungry, or in danger if she did what some adults told her to do so she looks for ways to get what she feels she needs. It’s very wearing - she too would get up in middle of the night to play (because the house is calm, and quiet, so she can focus on her play) or to get more screen time unsupervised. My DD doesn’t have the logical thinking to work out pass codes etc (yet), but her behaviour would be the same. She would be very remorseful immediately after, and then do the same thing without making the connection that it was the same behaviour.

I think you’re right to think her bm being in contact might be a factor, I know my girl uses screens to disconnect (actually to dissociate), and there’s something about the instant gratification of buying things that might be soothing for her.

How has she been at school so far, you may need to start talking to them about your concerns for high school. I’m not sure mine will cope with mainstream without significant support. In her I think it’s a combination of lack of impulse control, survival behaviours, and lack of understanding (eg about risk, money, etc). It’s very difficult to manage.

We’re at least at the point where she will (eventually) tell us when she’s done something, which is a huge step forward.

Jellycatspyjamas · 29/03/2021 15:42

Did she get lucky or does she try a lot?

On this point, my girl would just keep trying, not to see if anything has changed but because she wouldn’t understand the limit I had set and would think it was worth a try in an “I wonder if I can buy this yet” kind of way.

IssyKS · 29/03/2021 20:11

You are so insightful. I’m going to have to reread your response a few times as it’s hit some notes.

OP posts:
sassygromit · 30/03/2021 20:25

The contact re BM might have had a huge emotional impact, and even before I read that i was going to say that I really think that your dd's behaviour here sounds very much to do with emotions - stealing can be to do with taking something when the child feels in (emotional) need, where the "need" is stronger than her awareness of hurting others or caring about being honest, and "needing" the horse could be trying to displace uncomfortable feelings which she needs help to tolerate

When a child erupts in rage about something, they are usually not able to identify and process the feeling behind it without help, and when a child steals, feelings she does not understand may well have been multiplying for a while, and so may take some unravelling. If you are able to talk to her about her thoughts and feelings about anything in a roundabout way you are likely to get clues about what she is upset or angry or confused (or other) about, and if you name it for her, it is likely you will see some recognition.

Validating will go some way towards meeting the "need". You can then help her process and deal, meaning the feelings then stop overpowering her and the "need" is or can be met.

If you can help her to recognise and identify andt talk about and deal with emotions as they arise, the feelings are less likely to pile up, or when she explodes it will be easier for you to work out what has happened more quickly. And so, this builds emotional intelligence and resilience and self awareness and awareness of her needs vs others' needs.

Punishment, consequences, micro-monitoring and managing will not help a child develop a moral compass to the best of my understanding, and in fact all these things are more likely to create dishonesty and low self esteem and worsen behavioural problems according to clinical psychologists.

I am an adoptee and parent, but not an adopter.

sassygromit · 30/03/2021 20:45

Sorry, I meant to also say that the behaviours will continue until the emotional need has been identified, ime. Identifying these feelings and dealing creates a different way of interacting with her, the focus and talking then becomes how she deals with feelings, not on you hiding things away. She is more than capable of this from the sound of it, if she is taught it. You can also talk about when her needs might confluct with others' needs (and empathy). The impulse will hopefully start to get reined in by the thinking brain as her emotional literacy increases.

This inevitably takes time and might need a lot of repetition. You could get a therapist to do all this with her, but if you can do it, it would be better as you have an established relationship and closeness to build on.

Another thing to think about is that she might need help to find a better direction for her passions and initiative - you could say she showed initiative even if in opposite direction of what would be desirable - and imagine the strength of those feelings motivating her to get up at 3am...

Re choices nex year and school changes requiring more autonomy, you could do is talk her through what will be required of her, what senior school is like, the sorts of things she will need to organise during the day, the differences with social things moving schools. Talking things through makes a huge difference, like when you sit and do lists or plans, thinking ahead about what might happen or what might go wrong.

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