Despite our difficulties with Liam and Kieran, they were well behaved. They didn’t hurt others, didn’t lie (on Kieran’s part, much), and didn’t do anything that would cause much alarm, in terms of how they acted.
So when Mea started to steal, we were caught completely off guard.
We recognized that, because she stole only food, it was connected to the adoption.
But we were perplexed because she had three full meals and three snacks a day.
When I was younger, I was literally sent to bed without dinner. We did not use this type of punishment with any of our kids, especially Mea. We knew that she would react poorly if food was ever a part of a punishment.
Nevertheless, she felt compelled to steal food, often right after a meal/snack.
She wasn’t very “good” at stealing. We would find wrappers or a ton of crumbs wherever she had been.
We did learn to stop asking, did you? Because when we asked “did you,” especially when she was older, she would flatly deny it, even if we had seen her. We were creating a situation that caused her to tell a lie on top of the stealing.
Because we didn’t know better, we took her actions personally. We struggled, until we sought help and learned to understand why.
That doesn’t mean she stopped. But we have learned to respond appropriately – to help her feel loved, unconditionally, regardless of her behavior.