How to Know When an Adopted Child Needs a Therapist – Pt. 1
All children – whether adopted or biological – experience difficulties from time to time. School performance problems, low self-esteem, anger, acting out, fighting and even lying, can be seen in almost all children at one time or another – whether adopted or not.
As a parent it is your job to get to the root of the problem, help your child negotiate these difficulties, and seek outside help when you (or they) need it. However, knowing when you need the help of a third party, can sometimes be a difficult call. There is always the question in any parent’s mind as to what behaviors are “just normal kid stuff” or “a passing phase” – and what is a warning sign that indicates the need for a more serious intervention.
For adoptive parents this worry can be compounded. Your adopted child may have had non-traditional, difficult, traumatic or even abusive events in their early life. Or you may not even know what their early life was like before you adopted them. So you are often left wondering if your child’s behavior is just normal “growing pains” or if they may be exhibiting long-lasting psychological effects from their pre-adoption years.
Adoption Therapists Can Identify a Child’s Problems
The good news is that an experienced adoption therapist, who has seen hundreds of adoptive children, can help you determine if your child’s problems are “nothing to worry about” – or if they are symptomatic of a deeper psychological issue that may need professional treatment.
As an adoption therapist, I can tell you that with love, patience and – when necessary – some helpful therapy, adopted children can overcome almost any psychological difficulties and live full, happy and productive lives. So let’s look at a few factors that can help determine if your adopted child needs to see an adoption therapist.
For many parents there is a “tipping point” when they decide they can no longer handle their adoptive child’s problems on their own. It might be a single big or explosive incident (such as an act of violence or self-harm) – but it may also be an accumulation of smaller issues that together become overwhelming (bad grades, disrespectful behavior, etc.).
Signs Your Child Should See an Adoption Therapist
While there is no way to list every symptom that may indicate you should consider therapy for your adopted child, here are ten of the most common signs that it is time to seek the help of a therapist right away:
- If your child is endangering, harming or threatening to harm himself or others
- If the child’s behavior is interfering with his normal, daily life
- If the child’s behavior is disrupting the rest of the family’s functioning
- If handling the child’s problems is putting a strain on your marriage or partnership
- When the child steals, or shows a pattern of lying
- If your child has persistent anger, or anger that turns into rage
- If the child shows signs of depression or withdrawal from family or social activities
- If the child’s grades suddenly begin slipping below what is normal for them
- If they show disrespect toward parents, teachers or people in authority
- Any time they show signs of Reactive Attachment Disorder (click here to see signs)