Some Thoughts on Helping Your Foster Child Negotiate His/Her Behavior

Sometimes foster parents learn to simply cope with their foster child’s difficult behavior rather than to try and change it. Unfortunately, in ‘the real world’ the child will have to reach a certain standard of behavior, or risk missing out, being left behind or being thrown out.

You can help your foster child learn to change his behavior into behavior that is acceptable.   Your foster child can learn to behave well in all situations and you can teach him how.  Just as their negative behaviors were learned these negatives can be unlearned and replaced by being taught positive behaviors.

  • When your foster child behaves badly, stay calm! Don’t panic!
  • Make notes of all the times he uses good behavior then discuss the bad behavior and explain to him you have seen that he does know the difference.
  • Foster parents have to teach foster children to recognize, that what they do or say in anger or frustration are hurting people around them.  (Where most foster children come from, it was their only means of getting attention or surviving)
  • We have to teach our children to recognize that other people are watching what they are doing and will, decide whether it is sensible or silly or even bizarre behavior.  Teach your child to think about their own behaviour and how they want people to view them.  What you as parent then need to do is to watch carefully for an indication that he’s thinking, not just reacting to a situation.  When you see him thinking, catch the moment because that is the point from which you can acknowledge and encourage him.
  • When your foster child is doing something you don’t like, explain that there are other ways of behaving.  Then go with them and watch a group of children dealing with similar situations in different ways, and discuss these ways with your foster child.
  • Improving social behavior:  Teach your foster child a stock of observations or question which make a social situation easy.  This is a wonderful bonus for anyone – child or adult.  A child who notices flowers, an interesting ornament, or that plates need clearing from the table creates openings for someone observing them to reply and be pleasant to him.
  • Sometimes you need to prompt your foster child into the sort of responses that are possible.  When you as a family get together over a meal, encourage them to tell you what they have been doing.  This will help him to get rid of (or reduce) the days stress or disappointments.
  • All children need to learn how to suit their behavior to different situations.  By also sharing your day with them and engaging in conversation, your teaching invaluable communication and social skills.
  • Take time to explain to your foster child ‘how something is learned’, she will understand that learning is a lot of little steps which suddenly come together to make one big stride.  (Many foster children have no idea that learning involves their making mistakes, committing themselves, accepting correction and practicing).
  • Remind your child of something she has learned successfully, and write down the steps (stages) she had to complete before she could do it properly.
  • Teaching your foster child to take responsibility for what he says, can be as complicated as teaching him to take responsibility for what he does.  It is an ongoing activity.  None of us knows how to cope or what to say in every situation, even when we are adults. So please be patient!.

About Helouise Steenkamp

I'm a 45 plus, Devoted Wife and Mother. Adonai has blessed us with two Amazingly Wonderful Sons. We have had the privilege of being Place of Safety parents for 1 1/2 years and there after foster parents to a Darling Princess for 5 years. She was reconciled with her biological parents in Dec'14. Our hearts are still aching from the loss, but we know that as we trust Adonai with our salvation, so we can trust Him with her future. We welcomed our new 4 year old foster child on 05JUN'15.
This entry was posted in Behavioral Issues, Foster Care Advice, Knitting Your Family, Parenting with Love, Place of Safety Advice, Words of Advice. Bookmark the permalink.

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