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Why Is My Child Acting Out? (Inducement)
All children misbehave from time to time, but adopted children, especially those adopted beyond infancy can provide special challenges. It’s vital to be aware that there is a specific and well-understood reason for this behaviour and, most importantly, that it does not last forever.
When a child comes from a situation which has instilled in them feeling of fear, shame, and anger, their ways of interacting with the world are understandably changed. When first placed with their forever family children will often seem very compliant and restrained at first. This period, during which they are getting their bearing and testing the waters, can be very peaceful and is sometimes referred to as the “honeymoon period.” Once the child starts to feel comfortable in the home, however, extremely trying and hurtful behaviour can begin to manifest.
Often this behaviour is an example of what is known as “Inducement.” Inducement is a psychological concept which describes the use of non-verbal communication to induce one’s own emotional state in another. Inducement is a communication strategy that all people use unconsciously. When you find yourself feeling a little happier just because someone walked by with a smile and a bounce in their step, or when seeing someone else putting on a brave face against hardship makes you feel stronger yourself, you have been induced. Children who have experienced abuse, neglect, and abandonment, however, become experts in the use of inducement to project negative emotions.
Many adoptive parents, when this behaviour starts to manifest, are pushed right up to their breaking point. They feel that no-one is capable of understanding the terrible feelings that are welling up inside them. They find themselves irrationally angry, scared, shameful, and alone. It is not uncommon for parents in this situation to feel like they are going crazy.
You are not going crazy. You are feeling the feelings that your adoptive child has been carrying around inside them. Inducement is used to test the commitment of a family. When a child has abandonment issues, they may find it difficult to truly believe that their forever family will last. This is one reason why they will induce these terrible feelings, and act out in general. They are testing to see how much it will take before the family gives up on them, sends them back. Adoption disruption, unfortunately, does sometimes occur as a result. By being forearmed with the knowledge that inducement is a stage in the process, parents can be better equipped to hang on through this difficult period.
Another important thing to realize is that inducement is also a good sign. In order to induce these feelings in you, the child needs to open up the rawest and most vulnerable parts of themselves to you. They are laying themselves bare and daring you to reject them. Though it may seem a strange way to show it, this is actually a show of trust. By showing the child that you are willing to love them and stick by them even through the worst, you are validating that trust and doing wonders to promote a strong familial attachment.