Behavioral and Emotional Issues in Adopted and Foster Children

Adopted and foster children, like all children, have individualized behaviors and needs. The behaviors learned and shaped in institutionalized living and foster care placement, as well as those which result due to a major disruption in life, require special attention. These behaviors cannot be "lumped" under behavioral strategies used for biological children ─ each adopted child and family benefits from individualized assessment and support from psychology, education, therapy and social workers.

Types of behavioral and emotional issues

Children who are adopted may have behavioral issues ranging from violent tantrums to sensory self-stimulation in times of either stress or excitement. Research shows that older children may have a difficult time understanding emotions in others, which can lead to misunderstandings and learned behaviors which are not very helpful in social exchanges.

These children may seem assertive, aggressive or insensitive to the needs of others, when really they may just have a difficult time "reading" non-verbal social emotional cues. Children may be extremely controlling of their adoptive parents and siblings, and be very flexible with teachers, peers and therapists, which can be very confusing. This may be a result of attachment related behaviors, and a specialist in attachment psychology would be helpful. Other children suffer from post-traumatic stress as a result of experiences before abandonment or even experiences from their orphanage setting. These children may need psychological counseling and strategies to help treat these issues. Other children have psychiatric issues which may benefit from medications and support from a psychiatrist.