Parenting the Older Adopted Child... the Later Years

For children adopted at an older age, adolescence rears its ugly head that much faster for the unprepared adoptive parent! To make the rather normal adolescent task of questioning who he/she is and where he/she belongs even more challenging, older adopted kids come to their new families with a harsh background, inevitably characterized by some kind of abuse, loss, instability, and rejection. Attachment-related issues, disruptive behavior problems, and low self-esteem subsequently intensifies the adolescent stage for older adopted children. So, where are you on the parenting continuum … with kids still too young and relatively innocent, knee deep into the emotional turmoil of their very existence, or past their adolescent prime?

Whether it be to prepare for, defend against, or reflect back, consider these 3 questions:

1) Will a sense of abandonment and rejection replace feelings of security and comfort? Or, is it the other way around?

2) Is my child behaving in a way that reflects inner turmoil about the past?

3) Will being adopted make adolescence harder for my child?

So, that being said, how do you listen, support, and affirm your child (i.e., allowing the expression of their feelings, acknowledging their feelings/uncertainties no matter how strong they are expressed, and maintaining open communication with them)?

What kinds of positive disciplinary techniques are used (rather than the old-fashioned control-oriented techniques that interfere with the building of a trusting relationship between parent and child)?
What kinds of professional help is being/has been recruited (to help the child effectively work through memories and emotions from the past that block the ability to behave adaptively and develop and maintain emotionally healthy relationships)?

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