So my husband & I decided to take in 2 siblings that seemed very mild and sweet. Within a few days they went wild! Temper tantrums, throwing things, rebellion, long crying episodes, fighting and destroying things. What do we do? We are so exhausted! I'm ready to call it quits. My husband says we shouldn't give up and remember they are still learning a "new normal". But I am feeling hopeless since our new normal is very abnormal!
Welcome to the world of orphan care! Yep. They say, "There is no fun in dys-fun-ctional!" Just remember "all troubles are temporary." Instead of giving the kids "time out" (which never works and only makes the abandonment issues worse) give yourself lots of "time outs."
Observe the triggers. Are they tired? Hungry? Dehydrated? Fearful? Frustrated? Suffering? Orphans need to drink plenty of water and eat frequently. Ideally at least every few hours offer them something healthy to eat or drink. Being deprived and neglected has taken its toll on them. You need to be a good detective to figure things out.
When they are having a melt down, they shut down. So make sure they are safe and take a break nearby. Misery loves company - so don't indulge them. These kids "act out", because they do not know how to "talk it out." This is not the time to lecture, yell, scream or talk. Just wait till they are ready to return to sanity. Tell them where you will be when they are ready to talk it out. Turn and walk away. When they are calm, they are open minded. Use this time to teach. When things escalate - their little minds are closed, so nothing you say or do matters. You must wait till they calm down to teach them. Be the leader. Don't allow their mood destroy yours. Easier said than done, I know! That is why time out for parents is crucial.
The most important thing to do first is to always remember to create stability and security so they feel safe. Abandonment has rocked their world. Even though they are in your loving care and safe home, they have been powerless and their world has been out of control. Rebellion & disrespect is a power struggle to gain control.
We must always keep in mind these kids are emotionally stuck and developmentally delayed. Often kids who have suffered P.S.T.D. (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) will act half their biological age emotionally. Or their behavior seems stuck in the age when they were orphaned. So look past their anger and see their hurt. Remember "hurt people hurt people.".
Time out, punishment, threats, restraints, talking or yelling does not work in the heat of the battle. Research has proven that negative reinforcement does not work and can make matters worse. Ideally you should implement lots of positive reinforcement and affirmations.
Zero tolerance for disrespect and rebellion. Let them know when they act awful it only makes things worse. Be sure all your reprimands and criticism are wrapped in words with lots of love. Lead by example.
Teach them not merely to say, "sorry, please, thank you.' But show them how to think over their misbehavior, make amends and restitution once they apologize have them repeat the behavior the correct way.
Use rewards as leverage to gain cooperation. Make rewards immediate. Keep your promises. Restoring trust with care givers is vital.
Use compromise to negotiate with them. Limit choices to 2. More than 2 choices is overwhelming for young children and even adults. Allowing children to participate in decisions shares your power with them, but you remain the ultimate authority.
Continue to do your best. Pray. Find others who understand and will help you. You are not alone. Your husband sounds like a good guy. Lean on him and let him lead. And the kids are sure to follow.