Many people ask me questions about the logistics of adopting older kids. Looking at my older girls now, it's hard to imagine those are two kids behind the stories we tell. With that in mind, I'll tackle one of those questions in today's post.
Today's question: What do you do about your kid's breaking stuff on purpose?
I have a philosophy about taking care of things:
This was not a problem during my first go around (don't worry, there were lots of other problems, just not this one!). Hannah came already taking pretty good care of things. She's a natural organizer and likes things to be a certain way, so when they warned me about this, I half listened because it wasn't something that I saw played out in real life.
Then came Ashley. She was the one they had been talking about in those meetings. She liked to break things. When she was mad, nothing was safe. We went through quite a few school supplies, toys and dishes. I wasn't sure what direction to go. I didn't want her to have absolutely nothing. That wouldn't teach her how to treat things, but it would stop the destruction.
I came to a decision. She wasn't going to stop breaking stuff until two things happened: One, I stopped reacting to it and two, it started inconveniencing her. The second part was actually easier than the first. It's hard not to care when the things you've bought and picked out for her are treated so poorly. The truth is, however, that she is not sentimental about those things. Remember, in those early days, awkward reigns supreme. The warm and fuzzy feelings haven't hit her yet and they are quickly leaving you. This is one of those times you just have to fake it.
The second part is about inconveniencing her. If she breaks all her pencils because she doesn't want to do her homework, she has to use broken pencils. If she cuts her belt in half because she doesn't like the color, then she has to wear a belt with a big ball of tape holding it together. If she rips a finger off her glove in anger, then two of her fingers will have to share a spot in that glove.
I've found that I can pretty much tape anything back together. Maybe it won't look pretty, but as long as it's functional, then that will be good enough. I promise, enough time using taped up stuff and she'll stop breaking things. Hence my philosophy: Fix first, purchase later.
There will come a day when breaking stuff loses it's shine to her. She will decide that she's tired of using broken things. That's a golden day, my friends. It might not seem like it to anyone else, but to you it's a day you'll always remember. It's the day you are able to put away the plastic spoons and use real silverware. It's a glorious day.