my adopted/foster child is never satisfied. what can I do?


Caleb was never satisfied, it didn’t matter what his parents did for him. They took him to Chuck-E-Cheese on Friday night, just because, not for a special event. After they left, he asked, “What are we doing tomorrow?” It happened every time, whether it was an amusement park, a golf game with dad, or simply getting to choose a toy at the store. Caleb always wanted more.

Does you child want more after you give and give? Does it seem like your child is never satisfied?

This issue can be adoption/foster related, but it can also happen with children who don’t come from scarcity, neglectful or abusive backgrounds.

With foster and adopted children, they may have had a life of poverty or neglect before they came to you. Their insatiable need stems from not having anything, and wanting to fill a void that they feel will be there forever. But this desire for more can last much longer than we might anticipate. Well, all behaviors in hurting kids last longer than the parent anticipates, you can read more about that here.

Sometimes this unsatisfied feeling happens with kids who have typical upbringings. I was a nanny for a family who had four kids (not adopted) when we lived in Phoenix, and when we moved to Colorado, they sent their two youngest to stay with us for a week. We did so much with those two, had a ton of fun, spent lots of money, but when we were leaving a water park one of the kids asked from the backseat, “What are we doing next?” ARRGGHHHH! What do you mean, what are we doing next? We just had ice cream and went to a water park. The day before that had been spent at a park and doing who knows what else to keep them occupied and happy.

Kids are kids, and they can manipulate whether they’ve had a traumatic past or not. If a child feels they can get more out of you, why not try? Go for the guzzler.

If your children are wanting more, more, more here are some ideas on what to do:

  • Explain what you’re doing. If you’re going to a movie and that’s all, tell them. “We’ll go to the movie, then we’re going home.” If you state your intentions prior to the event there may be less whining and complaining, and it will save your sanity (for when it can be used up later).
  • Explain money and time. Children have a hard time getting the concept of money, like it’s an unending supply. I don’t mean you should tell them every time money’s tight, we don’t want them to worry, especially if they come from poverty and didn’t know where meals were coming from. However, you can explain that you have a certain amount of money to take everyone out for ice cream and that’s all your going to spend that day. It puts a cap on the superfluous.
  • Review the fun activities you’ve participated in recently. In a happy voice say, “Look at all the fun we’ve had. We went to the lake and had a picnic. I’m so glad we were able to do that together. Some kids don’t get to do that with their families.”

We live in a society that’s constantly trying to please and reward itself, and this is going to trickle down to kids. Even if you don’t indulge yourself, their friends are, and they see it on television. More, more, more. First we need to take a look at our life and see what we’re doing to support this mentality, then we can work through the steps above to help our children be satisfied with what they have.

What about your kids? Do you feel they’re satisfied with what they have? Or are they always asking for more? What do you do to help your children feel appeased?

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2 responses to “my adopted/foster child is never satisfied. what can I do?

  1. I was not adopted but I was sent to two foster homes as a child and in the end was rejected both times. You have to be firm tell them what they can and can not have and treat them with respect and dignity. If it is give, give, give, the child is going to learn nothing and he/she will want more and if he/she doesn’t get it will whine and complain til they go get it or you stop the give, give, give.

    Explain to them about money yes but that is not as important because as a kid he/she isn’t going to understand what you are talking about anyway. If it an allowance start them small and gradually build up. If you give them $50 a month they will want $100 and so on. Start them small and again this earns respect for the parent and self-esteem for the child.

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