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Accessing Post Adoption Support

William February 21, 2021 16:12

Long story short our 6 year old daughter has behavioural issues with hitting us. We have tried all techniques from offering her a cuddle to time out and nothing works. We tell her not to hit and she just hits even more. She was placed with us when she was 2.5 years and she basically started it then. We thought she would grow out of this.

She is just very stubborn as well. Today we were going to go out and we asked her to put on her pants. She completely refused even though I offered to help her.

She went on saying awful things to me and started hitting both my wife and I. The only thing we have to resort to is to put her in her room to calm down. Only today she didn't calm down. The tantrum went on for about 40 minutes.

This is breaking my marriage as both my wife and I have argued about this over the years.

We come to a point where we need help ASAP with how stop this kind of behaviour. She is a bright young girl and knows this is wrong behaviour. She's as good as gold at school as we get gushing reports about her behaviour at school.

My question is is what happens when I ring adoption support?

Donatella February 21, 2021 16:32

Would it help to reframe the behaviour as a meltdown rather than a tantrum? As a panic/anxiety attack caused by demands being made of her?

When she behaves like this, she’s in flight/fight mode and not capable of rational thought. The primitive brain, the amygdala kicks in. Can you go back and revisit some of your training? The fact that she’s been home for 4 years doesn’t mean that she feels completely secure yet!

School - well maybe what they see is her masking? The bottle of pop analogy. She holds it together in school and lets it all out in her safe space, home. Just because school see a child who’s ‘fine’ doesn’t mean she really is fine. Just that she’s acting in rather than out.

Does she have any diagnoses? Any genetic stuff in the background? Alcohol in pregnancy?

To get support via ASF, it usually helps to know what you want. If school see a child who’s fine then they’re unlikely to help. Are they trauma aware? How good is their understanding? What do you want out of this?

Safia February 21, 2021 17:29

It won’t let me react - so thumbs up!

William February 21, 2021 18:29

No genetic issues, no alcohol or drugs issues at all. She is just defiant.

We kept asking her nicely to put her clothes on. I offered to help. She is very strong willed and defiant.

What we want out of this is for her to stop hitting us and resisting us. Sometimes she does as she's told no problem. She knows hitting is unacceptable as she doesn't do this at school or in front of others.

We told her well in advance we were going to go to the park, so it's not as if we told her straight away.

William February 21, 2021 18:30

We weren't making demands of her. I asked her nicely to get dressed and she was very cheeky to me and defiant

Donatella February 21, 2021 19:16

Merely asking her to get dressed is a demand. That’s how she interpreted it. Therapy alone won’t stop her hitting nor will it stop her being defiant - I’d say avoidant rather than defiant. Understanding what’s underlying the behaviour is the only way to start to manage it, to develop strategies for it. What do you do when she refuses a request? Can you word it differently so she doesn’t perceive it as a threat - anxiety often presents as anger.

I’d also say it’s unusual that there are no genetic or other things in the mix - but the fact that she came to you at 2 will mean that she’s not going to be straightforward, that there will be triggers for her behaviour - so if you consider that all behaviour is communication, what do you think hers is telling you?

What were the first 2 years of her life like? Trauma, attachment etc?

There’s NVR. You could look into that.

Therapeutic parenting - Sarah Naish is good for that. Do you use therapeutic parenting techniques?

If you’re not on the same page as parents, then it’s possible that she’ll attempt to split you.

There won’t be an easy fix - it won’t be as simple as expecting her to just stop hitting and to start doing as she’s told.

William February 21, 2021 22:16

How can therapy not help?

We're at a complete loss here. We've tried therapeutic parenting used all the techniques but doesn't work. She does as she's told sometimes.

She is definitely a defiant child as we tell her not to something then she will just go ahead and do it. Tell her not to hit, she will then just hit again. We are at the end of of tether.

My wife has had to move out because of the behaviour. We have not been on the same page which has caused us to bicker.

We really need help ASAP

Safia February 21, 2021 22:42

Your question was what will happen when you contact post adoption support? They should fill in a referral which they can do over the phone and then arrange for someone to visit you at home to do an assessment of needs. As Donatella says above it’s helpful if you have an idea of what you think you need and what would help. For example therapy as you said - perhaps counselling for yourselves - but also think about any other assessments you might need - to try and understand why she is behaving the way she is. The reason Donatella says therapy may not be enough in itself is that there is often some underlying learning difficulty behind the behaviour and of course it might be that you need to learn new strategies to deal with it. If you haven’t done so already look into NVR - this is something the ASF can fund too. So it’s not as simple as therapy helping as there are different ways of offering this that suit different children and situations and it might be that other things are needed as well. I would contact them ASAP - tomorrow - and maybe also try the GP at the same time.

Good luck with it all

Edited 21/02/2021
William February 21, 2021 23:15

Thank you. Yes I was thinking of contacting my GP also.

What is NVR please?

And can we as parents receive counselling also

windfalls February 21, 2021 23:20

Non violent resistance. X

chestnuttree February 21, 2021 23:47

PMed you

Safia February 21, 2021 23:50

Yes - to counselling for parents - and it can be really helpful. I had fantastic support - telephone counselling - from the organisation supporting my daughter for the best part of two years - and it was free - funded by the charitable side of the organisation so no one needed to fund it for me

Edited 21/02/2021
chestnuttree February 22, 2021 11:06

Regarding NVR, have a look here:

The National Association of Therapeutic Parents might be another organisation of interest to you. They offer regular "listening circles".

If you are lucky, your LA will currently (due to COVID) fund a year long membership of the NAOTP for you.

This is helpful:

Understanding Child to Parent Violence with Graham Kennedy

Simon February 22, 2021 15:30

Hi William

A good post – thank you for sharing your experiences.

Many of us as adoptive parents have been where you are, or are there now. This is something that comes up constantly at my local adoptive parent support groups. For example, everything is going well; our family have had two good years. Bang! Suddenly things start to fall apart, family life becomes very tough/desperate and relationships (marriage etc) are tested to almost breaking point.

I am no expert and I am always slightly fearful of advice given through a forum! However, I would suggest you ring the Adoption UK helpline for some support and a friendly chat. I personally found this the best place to start. To be honest, the thought of ringing post adoption support and speaking to a social worker while I was in a state of anxiety was the last thing I needed i.e. it was almost like an admission of failure as an adoptive parent (which of course it was most definitely not).

Once you have spoken to the AUK helpline, then ring post adoption support. Your mind will be much clearer and you will be in a better place to navigate the ongoing adoption journey with your family.

The link to the Adoption UK helpline on this website is here:

Good luck and take good care of yourself.


Safia February 22, 2021 16:15

My thoughts were as a result of personal experience - from contacting PAS myself and from having counselling as a parent - neither of which I viewed as an admission of failure but as a need for help for my child because of the trauma of her early (and later unfortunately) experiences. The fact that she did have early trauma and has learning and attachment difficulties has left her extremely vulnerable and unfortunately liable to exploitation and hence the need for help - admitting this should be seen as a strength not a weakness or admission of failure and I hope you see it this way William

Safia February 22, 2021 16:22

I have found the advice given by other adopters who have often been through a similar situation myself as much more valuable than that from professionals - or even advice lines - where the advice is often less personal and maybe more theoretical - and that is why I really valued the old AUK boards which provided this valuable resource

windfalls February 22, 2021 18:45

Well said safia. Advice based on experience is more valuable than advice from experts in my opinion. Especially when those experts operate with tunnel vision and refuse to consider the obvious.

toujours March 12, 2021 16:32

Have you tried the Adoption UK support group webinars?


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