Everything sounds normal but of course knowing that doesnt make it easier to deal with!
my four yr old often says he hates me, thats just part of his personality. You can just consistently say something like "i know you are feeling angry/sad/disappointed right now. Its not ok to tell me you hate me but you can say "i feel MAD"" or something like that....
its great he stays dry at night. My two dont :( They also wake up at night so at least thats something. I suspect the rivalry will calm down a bit, but that many small kids can be hard even if there werent all the other issues. I would just keep modelling good behavior "we dont scream in other kids faces but you can say "i would like to play with that please" or however the situation is going. When my daughter came at age 8 she was CONSTANTLY getting in my two yr olds face, grabbing toys, teasing, being mean. I couldnt go to the bathroom w/o her getting in his face, and he started biting in retaliation...it was hard for me to blame him! Thankfully she doesnt often do that stuff anymore (she is 10.)
I think with time he'll settle down...he just has to learn what is acceptable in your family. Might be worth talking to his teacher to see how his behavior is there (is it a school he's been going to or a new school?) Plus, my kids go to head start and i've found they LOVE when parents touch base, are involved, are on the same side and they dont feel like you're going to be pissed if they tell you about behavior issues or whatever. If he's had behavior problems all along then maybe he needs a little more intervention, maybe play therapy or something...your worker might have some ideas about that..oh and head start is usually great about referring you to community resources that can be helpful.
Family guy...sigh....my daughter would try to sneak and watch that, and while i am super laid back, i just didnt think it was acceptable. She did ALOT of unacceptable things (just things she'd say mostly, or telling lies, whatever) that really calmed down once she'd been here for a bit. I think you'll see a big change in him after six months and then a year.
So glad to hear from you and to know the good is outweighing the bad! It all sounds pretty normal for a hard transition. Giving the kids some space is a great idea right now. Also, it is very common for kids who have been through trauma to misplace their anger. I hope the other mom's here have some advice.
when you say he is putting toys on top of each other and squishing down the bottom parts, are you saying that he is mimicking sexual behavior with dolls? didn't you mention that there are sexual abuse allegations somewhere along the line with his mom or one of her previous partners or something? I might be mis-remembering what you have said, but this raises a bit of a red flag with me, and I'd definitely mention it to a counselor when you find one, and the caseworker too... sooner than later.... it would be horrible if it came out later and you or your husband were blamed... it may turn out to be nothing, but he should have the opportunity to talk with a counselor...
all the rest of it will mellow out in time, as he adjusts to your family, learns to trust, learns how to communicate, etc.... it's a hard transition, hang in there!! hugs!!
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Well... this is all to common. I know my mom had similar feelings towards me... that all sounds sort of like relatively normal behaviour- I suggest you all go to family counseling and you read some books on adoption. Raising a child who has had trauma and is not your biological child is different then raising your own kids.... with time you can love him and things will get better... but right now is a transition for all of you and you owe it to him and to your other kids to deal with these feelings you are having towards him.
Brascos - I feel that way towards my son all the time (he's been mind since I found out I was preggers). It's the age (I hope!) partly, and partly he's adjusting.
I think family counseling could be useful to your family, but not because of the things you described above - thats normal. He's being annoying, and thats age appropriate unfortunately. The bossiness too - my ds talks like that sometimes. I just ignore it, and I'm pretty sure they grow out of it.
if i didnt love him just as much as i love my children that are biologically mine i would not have encouraged and supported my husband every step of the way of getting custody of him and i would not have taken it on when i already have alot on my plate with three children under 3. and yes i know it is a transition for all of us, and it's not feelings toward him it's feelings of frustration in general. frustations that my husband and i both share and have been talking about. if i didn't care about him and love him i wouldn't be on here discussing it or be his primary caregiver 24/7
Of course you're frustrated!! And thats OK. It actually sounds like you're doing a great job of being really patient with him - I'm not nearly as patient as you seem to be with my own ds - I yell far too often (although with 3 kids already you must have much more patience than I do)
I did not mean to say you did not love him! I just think you need to research about raising kids who have had trauma- I yell at my kids to ( :( ) Tho I read what I wrote and can see that I did say that. I think I meant you will be more used to him and he won't bother you so much.
I think its normal in transition and eventually he will know how things work at your house- and some of it is probably just what he is accustomed to with his life before- it will take time for him to assimilate.
This is my life! My kid who has survived trauma is constantly assuming she will get less than other kids.
For the record I agree that it sounds like you are doing an AMAZING job. Feel free to vent, we understand how frustrating it can be.
Yeah, that's also totally age appropriate. I try to have more structure rather than less, as it seems to make things easier. Structure meaning, defining what activity we are doing - not tons of rules - because then it seems that my ds knows what's coming next and it helps make him calmer. Also, you probably do this already, make sure he knows the hard and fast rules then enforce them on the first chance. Example: in my house it's all about safety and no hitting/kicking. Ds knows the no hitting rule applys to toys too (no using a toy to hit mom or the cat or the toy gets taken away). If he hits with a toy, the toy goes in the closet for a day. The first time it happens I take the toy away.
I've found that at this age consequences are arbitrary if they are given more than one chance. They can't keep track of how many chances you give them.
It certainly makes sense to me that a grown up would need to be with him outside! I bet this part is going to be the hardest. If he was neglected and/or mom was too lenient all the time, learning that there is going to be limits is going to be hard work for him. But so needed!
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Is he dry at night? My boys were four in Jan and in Feb, and they have to wear a diaper at night, plus with my one i usually change him before i go to bed (they go at maybe 9, and i might go at 3 am) as well because if i dont he will usually soak through to the bed. I just love getting peed on. (not) My other one will stay dryer (and actually had two mornings this week where he woke up dry) but will sometimes wet the sheet as well, this is even WITH a diaper on. I can't imagine they will be nighttime trained anytime soon.
So, that being said....do you get a sense he is peeing on your floors on purpose or is it he is just getting busy (one of mine will sit and play and pee all over himself rather than tear himself away from the fun, then he wont even tell me he did it!) ...is it he's not fully awake, or is there some sneakiness involved?
Its hard, because usually when i have issues with my daughter, people with similar age kids (but who arent traumatized or foster/adopted) will say "oh my kid does that too!" or "oh thats totally normal for the age!" (for kids to be sassy, or forgetful, or whine, or be messy or *whatever*)....the thing is....its really hard to hear "oh its normal" if your gut is telling you its NOT. Sometimes i'll vent about my daughter on facebook or wherever and get wellmeaning people offering advice, and while im not offended (these are my friends after all) its hard to explain how its different with these kids.
So....its hard to tell if his issues are age-typical given his background/prior environment, if some of it is that he's a boy and you have girls and sometimes the energy is different, or he is older than your kids and that in and of itself can present issues since you havent parented that age before OR if the kid might have some serious emotional issues brewing. I mean, i can totally see how my daughter would have behaved similarly at age 4.
Its possible some of this can be explained by his prior environment....was he afraid to wake up a parent in the morning because they would get mad about that? was it an environment where urine on the floor was no big deal (maybe the kids often would just pee wherever, maybe animals in the house if any would too?) Is he just trying to piss you off/stress you out? Before i adopted i might have said that wouldnt be the case but now im the mom of a master manipulator and liar so...yknow i tend to steer toward the negative when discussing kid behaviors.
If your stepson DOES have emotional issues like attachment issues or oppositional issues or ADHD (or god forbid something like fetal alcohol issues)...it might get worse before it gets better though many of his behaviors will likely improve with consistency and structure and just being very clear and firm with him. But if he has underlying issues those then may become more apparent (for example once we got my daughters ADHD under control through medication, her attachment issues and learning issues became more apparent) ....and if that is the case then what i would say to you is to prepare for a long haul....get as much help as you can with therapy/school/whatever...and realize that the bmom had four years to screw this kid up, it might take that long or longer to heal him.
I wonder if you could contact the Early Childhood Cooperative in your area- they work thru programs like head start and PreK to test at risk kids and coordinate services. I wonder if this would be a place to start and get some help for him and your family.
It is hard to be a child and be neglected and then taken from the only family you have known- even if there was mistreatment and try to acclimate to a new family and new way of life- He is reacting to drastic change. When our custody situation changed with my exhusband my daughter began to not make it to the bathroom in time and would pee on herself standing in the bathroom. It was very strange- but we worked through it- she was 4 at the time. Regression is to be expected during a major change or traumatic event in a child's life. I hope you can find some tools to learn how to help him through this! I will do a quick google search and see if I can find any articles about this.
Girl he's lucky you havent started drinking wine for breakfast! Smoking isnt great but whatever helps get you through the day i say go for it...now is probably not the time to cut back ;)
I know that kids react to change differently and i know that he's probably frustrated and scared and unsure of what is happening. But i still think he needs to be evaluated just to make sure there isnt something else accounting for his behavior. 4 is kind of a hard age, you arent a baby anymore but you're not really a big kid either. He may need some kind of therapy or something to help him explore his emotions in a safe way. If i were you i'd forget about asking him the "why" of anything (why are you sad/mad/disrespectful right now) because he isnt going to probably have the words to express why he is REALLY mad. I mean...he could "not like" your husband for all sorts of valid (in his head) reasons that are impossible for him to express.
While he's having visits with his bmom its just going to be awful during and after. There isnt any way around that. Its almost always awful or has a negative effect on behavior. Our visits used to be on Thursday late evenings and it really just destroyed any hope of normalcy on thursdays for us. The long drive up there and back, the constant stream of junk food and candy fed to him (he was younger than 2 at the time), the confusion (he's all content and settled with us then has to be reminded he has this other family....) the stress, the weird uncomfortable agency full of strangers.....its just pretty awful all around.
after the visits are normally the worst, after i get him back to being a happy normal kid again, it's thursday again and he has to go back, it seems like it's a cycle I can't get out of. Normally his visits are thursday afternoon from 1:30-3:30 or 1:00-3:00. So he no more than gets off head start bus, gets in car to go, gets home is crying upset and stuff, then i have to try to cook dinner around this, and get my other children ready for dinner, get them all fed, bathed, try to get him to go to sleep to, yes my husband helps but 2 people is just not enough hands for all that going on. We cheated this time for dinner, I talked him into ordering us a pizza :) I love delivery saves so much time, stress, love it. I had a parent teacher conference yesterday with head start, but they said he has been acting like nothing ever happened as far as transitions and everything, he is still a happy normal kid there, so That's a plus too, I think.lol.
My ds has transition issues too - for a few days before visitation with his dad things get MAJORLY wonky, and then it takes time to get him back into the swing of things when he gets back. I feel for you, I really do. It's hard stuff. It is a cycle, but take comfort in the fact that he feels safe enough around you to act up. It's not very comforting, I know (I cringe whenever someone says that to me!) but its true. He's getting comfortable, which means you get the hard part of the job.
Something that helps my ds after visitation (which is longer than your ds, and the circumstances are different - so YMMV) is for me to get as much done before he comes home as possible, and then pay positive attention to him for a while. Just the 2 of us, no cleaning, no cooking, just playing, reading, chasing, cuddling, whatever he wants to do. If he's sad I validate his feelings, if he's happy I reflect that, if he misbehaves I set the limit and respond the way I normally do, but then forget it right away. I know you have 3 other children, but if your DH could spend some time with him, or watch the others while you do - it might help. Even just an hour might help.
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