A few weeks ago I had a very quick chat with middle girl about consequences for poor behavior, being fair. Now I know a lot of adopted children struggle with ’cause and effect’ thinking but I thought I’d give it a go any way.
Let me give you a little background first. Middle girl is angry, she hides it mostly behind her smile but at home, the minute she doesn’t get her own way she ‘strops’ and by that I mean she chucks herself on the floor and gets even more angry. This has meant that whenever I’ve had to talk to her about a poor choice or an unacceptable behavior or even simply a gentle word about speaking nicely or sharing etc I’ve been met with looks of utter hatred and anger which have meant that the poor behavior turns in to a vicious circle of anger feeding yet more negative behavior.
So a few weeks ago, after yet another episode of night time and early morning antics I sat middle girl down and tried to explain to her that if she misbehaved there would be a consequence. We talked about how it was ‘fair’ and that It didn’t mean that she was a bad person or that I was a terrible mummy, it was simply fair. All children make bad choices sometimes, I explained to her, its how you learn and grow up to be an adult who makes great choices, I said. I used a few examples to back up my ‘fairness’ theory such as when grown ups make bad choices they might get in to trouble with the police, and when children at school misbehave they might have to miss play time or some other privilege. Initially she responded to me with anger and tears but then it was like a light bulb moment for her and she started to listen and even contributed a few other examples of her own.
We then moved on to talk about her own responses to the consequences and how in the past she’s felt angry which I understood, but it hasn’t helped her to make good choices and improve her behavior afterwards, so we talked about how she might look at her consequences in a more positive light and instead of thinking ‘I’m rubbish, I hate mommy’ she might like to start thinking ‘oh dear, I messed up but never mind I can do better next time’. This really seemed to sink in. Now I wont say its improved her behavior as such, and it doesn’t appear to have ignited any ’cause & effect’ thinking, but I will say its improved her anger.
When I have to speak to middle girl these days about a poor choice or behavior, she no longer looks at me with all that hatred, these days its more of a ‘bummer,I’m in trouble, but its fair’ kinda look!
I’ve linked this post up over at ‘The Adoption Social’ for this week’s ‘Weekly Adoption Shoutout’ #WASO