Basic Behavior Management for Adopted Parents


Many parents experience behavioral issues with their children whether they are adopted or biological. Here are some helpful hints for parents interested in resolving particular behavioral issues.

  1. Work on only two or three targeted behaviors at a time– Pick a couple of issues that are workable and try to make some headway on those-sometimes you just have to pick your battles
  2. Determine the “function” of the behavior– Every action is done for a reason. Misbehavior is no different. Is your child disrupting meal time to avoid eating? To gain attention? Determining the function of the behavior will give you some insight into the interventions you need to implement
  3. Determine the “antecedent” of the behavior– What happens before this particular behavior? Determining what happens just prior to the behavior can give you some insight into the patterns of behavior and how you as a parent might be actually encouraging that behavior. Utilizing a data tracking form can assist you in determining the antecedents along with the number of times the targeted behavior is displayed.
  4. Determine how you can replace the targeted behavior with a behavior that provides the same function but is less objectionable– Does your child exhibit a targeted behavior in order to gain your attention? Then you need to develop another behavior to “replace” the targeted behavior that will illicit your attention and reinforce that behavior.
  5. Consistent reinforcement is the key– Consistently redirecting to the preferred behavior and away from the targeted behavior is necessary for progress. Utilization of data sheets will allow you to clearly see if your plan is working or if it needs to be re evaluated.

Whether your child is exhibiting mild or severe behaviors, this same construct can be utilized. Unfortunately any behavior plan developed for a child is completely dependent on the parent enforcing and reinforcing the plan. Parents can find simple directions on line for behavior plans along with sample data collection forms to assist. Severe or persistent behaviors may require a professional behavior consultant working with the family.