When a foster child is first placed in your home, there will likely be an adjustment period before he or she becomes comfortable. It takes time, after all, for people to get used to being around each other, even children and adults. Remember to show patience, and stay in contact with your agency support. Besides being patient, it will be important for you to understand any problematic behaviors you may see in order to respond appropriately.
During the adjustment period, foster children often experience emotional distress.
Many of the children entering into the foster care system have been exposed to negative circumstances and situations, such as physical, emotional, or sexual abuse, neglect or abandonment, or parent problems like a mental health issue or addiction for a few examples. Learn your foster child’s history to truly understand his or her behavior, and provide the structured, secure, and comforting home he or she deserves.
Here are some common behaviors associated with foster child placement adjustment.
Showing Physical Aggression Toward Others
Some foster children display aggressive behaviors during the adjustment period, typically aimed toward their natural or foster siblings. This aggression could be caused by many things, such as previous animosity between natural siblings or anger at having been separated from their families. The most important things to remember when dealing with an aggressive child is to model appropriate behavior and to not match aggression with aggression.
Testing Limits or Blatantly Defying Authority
If your foster children are testing the limits of your set rules, blatantly not listening, or doing the opposite of what was asked of them, they are displaying typical behaviors associated with a general sense of insecurity and uncertainty. Children in foster care often feel uncertain of the future directly after a placement, which leads to problems with authority figures. Techniques for dealing with this type of problem behavior include only giving an instruction one time, not letting yourself become upset, and enthusiastically praising good behaviors.
It may seem as though there is no valid “excuse” for theft, but consider stealing from your foster child’s position. He or she typically doesn’t steal with malicious intent. Instead, some foster children steal things in order to gain a sense of power or control over their lives. Other foster children may steal as a survival tactic, taking food and clothing. Dealing with theft in your home can be tricky, but it’s important to address situations such as this one without resorting to problem behaviors yourself. Avoid name calling and derogatory comments, and remember not to take it personally.
If your foster child is lying to you often, consider the reason behind it. Common causes of lying behaviors include to imitate adult behavior, not wanting to be a disappointment, to get attention, to avoid being punished, or to avoid a stressful situation. Some children lie simply because they are conditioned to do so by their previous circumstances. Pay attention to the lies your foster child is telling, when he or she is telling them, and what the purpose of the lying is.
What we must remember is that the foster children exhibiting many of these problematic behaviors have been through a lot. We can’t give up on these kids. Contact Family Care For Children & Youth to become a foster parent or to get any of your questions regarding foster care answered.