What Do My Child’s Behaviors Mean?

Foster and adoptive mom, Paulette, talks about learning to look behind her child's behaviors to gain new insight and understanding.

“The behavior thing is a symptom of something deep down. And so often we can look at these children and just look at their behaviors and not understand why they’re doing them. Nicholas would get up in the middle of the night and he would steal food and he would eat so much that he would throw up and then continue to eat. He would eat boxes of cereal at night. He would hide empty wrappers in his room. But, what I would do, is I would go and start cleaning up all of these empty wrappers. And when he would come home, I would notice he would go into his bedroom and he would come out with just this look of sorrow on his face. And after reading about kids suffering from food deprivation, I realized that I was actually re-traumatizing my son. He needed to see those empty wrappers so his brain knew, ‘I ate.’ And so once I learned that I just allowed those wrappers to be there.

“Nicholas had a very difficult time putting, say, his dirty laundry down the laundry chute. Because, although I did all of these exercises with him of him being on top of the laundry chute, putting clothes down, and then him going into the basement, seeing that the clothes were going into the laundry hamper downstairs, any time that he put something down the laundry chute to him, it was a loss. So he would take his dirty clothes and put them in pillowcases are underneath his bed. And when I understood that, that was because he was so afraid that if he would leave my home, which in his little seven-year-old brain just knew he was going to leave, he could quickly grab his belongings. And so when I learned that that’s what he was doing and the psychology behind it, I needed to meet Nicholas where he was at at that moment, and know that as soon as he would start to have that safety and security of, ‘I love you no matter what,’ and ‘You’re staying regardless,’ then we could work on those issues.”

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