Well, it is time. I knew this time would come but I did not look forward to it. Many children who are adopted gather and hide things because they are not used to having things of their own. In order to feel secure, they will hide them and hoard them. I let Alex do this for several months as you can tell from the picture above. However, recently it has become a problem. Most of the items he hoards are other people’s items…namely his sisters’ things and MINE!
It has been general knowledge in our house for several months that if you are missing something, you need to go look through Alex’s stash to find it. Many times I would take my things out and show him that they are mine and that they do not belong in his things. Recently, the fights over things in his stash have escalated and I feel its time to bring the stashing inappropriate items to an end. Friday, I put some important mail I needed to go out by the door. Right before the carrier arrived, I went to put it in on the porch. We have a porch mailbox. I could not find my mail. I looked all over. Even in Alex’s stash. Finally, Alex showed me where he buried it in his stack of items. Recently, he also took a box of crayons and hid them as well. It is a rule in my house that mama is the controller of all crayons. After they are finished coloring, I go back and pick them up and put them high on a shelf. One day, he hid the box of crayons before they were finished coloring and me, not really paying attention, did not notice they were gone. Until…..they colored every surface in their room and I found the box hidden underneath a shelf. Sneaky boy!!!!
No matter how many times we explained these things were not his. No matter how many times we cleaned it out and put only his items in his special bin…he still coveted and pilfered everyone else’s items. So, since he has been in our house now for several months and we have shown him that we provide for his every need including food, his own toys and his own clothes, I felt it time to try to break him of his stash habit. He starts school in August and, even though we kind of giggle and just patiently retrieve our items, I don’t feel his teacher or Alex’s fellow students will think it cute when he starts taking their items and hiding them in his cubby or backpack. So, in order to start teaching him respect for other people’s belongings, I cleaned out his stash, removed all boxes or bags from the room (anything that he could use to stuff things in). Put his name on all of the items that belong to him solely and put all of those items in a special bin that is his and explained to everyone to not touch his stuff (no one touches his stuff….he is the one who take things from everyone), but just for the show of it, I gathered everyone in his room and explained to them that this was Alex’s bin and his things and to not touch them. After that, I went to Vivian’s bin and to Lillian’s bin and explained to him that he should not take or touch their items as well.
After that, I cleaned out all the tiny McDonald toys and little things out of the room and put them in the attic leaving only the big toys that he could not physically put in his bin…hehe. The big toys that are EVERYONE’S to play with. I am hoping this helps him. I went in his room this morning and he had already pushed several of the big toys into his area. I moved them back to the play area of the room and explained to him that they are everyone’s toys and not solely his. What happens is, he moves those big toys to his stash area and will not let anyone play with them and whines and cries when Lillian wants to play with the kitchen. He also found a plush toy carrier thing and stuffed things in it and put it in his stash this morning. I guess I didn’t remove EVERYTHING out of the room that he could hoard things in. So, I took his items out, put them in his special bin and put the plush toy carrier in the attic.
We shall see if this works. It will be a long road, but I hope that he learns that his items are safe, that some toys are are meant to be shared, and above all that he is NOT supposed to take ANYTHING that does not belong to him out of someone else’s room. Sigh….oh the fun.
Reading adoption articles on understanding this behavior…hoarding is when a person takes inane objects or found objects like acorns, rocks and things they find and put them in a stash. However, when it becomes taking someone else’s things it is STEALING. Even though Alex probably does not view it that way, it is what it is. Unfortunately, when adopted children go from hoarding to stealing, it is time to put a stop to it. I was hoping that he would feel comfortable and it would go away, but it has only worsened. I was reading several blogs on the issue and am trying to find some strategies for curbing this behavior without him feeling threatened. We shall see….