A WORD ON ADOPTION
Attachment may continue to be an issue which can affect a young person in the context of reactions, emotions and behaviour. There may be a number of factors related to the history and circumstances of adopted children, that have longer term consequences for the child and his/her behaviour. It is probably worth re-iterating these here; that stress, both intra-uterine and in the post-natal period can affect the programming of the stress regulation system causing anxiety and problem with coping with stress, as well as causing difficulty with attention control and impulsivity. It is for these reasons that some adopted children show ADHD-type symptoms, for which medication can be prescribed.
Fear of failure can be high in adopted children, causing stress and anxiety, who may then learn to be hyper-vigilant to routine discipline. The result can be that they may then see routine discipline as if it is disapproval and react accordingly. Similarly, if these children have to cope with a greater than average number of challenges to their self-esteem during their earlier childhood, self-esteem can become a particularly prominent issue for them. These factors can interact with each other making a young person’s behaviour harder to understand both for themself and for others and also harder to manage.
Adolescence is a period in a young person’s life where a number of comparators are used amongst the peer group, namely related to who is in a family, what the family does and so on. Coming from an adoptive setting can make these issues both more sensitive and also, at times, more difficult. Knowing there is someone about who can act as a mentor in school and is both sensitive to, and aware of, these matters, as they relate to the young person, can give support to address and cope with these situations, reassured that the individual is understood and it is safe to talk. Many of these young people seek to please, want to succeed and be integrated and yet fear failure. The latter, in causing stress and anxiety then affects behaviour, which can then make parents anxious too. The young person may then become aware of their parent’s anxiety, which then plays into the young person’s attachment anxiety.
In the light of this information, some of a young person’s current behaviours may be more understandable. The nature of some of a young person’s learning needs, may mean there will be times when they feel they do not succeed as well as they or others think they might, which in turn means they may well then feel they do not please people and have increased levels of stress and anxiety. Should this description ring any bells to any young person, it may be worth considering a full psycho-educational assessment.
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