Supporting The Mental Health Of Your Foster Child

Supporting The Mental Health Of Your Foster Child

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Children who grew up in a foster care facility experience trauma throughout their lives. Even though they’re happy with your family, there are still instances where they’ll fall into the pit of sadness. That’s how unpredictable their lives are.

The instability of their emotions stems from the constant move from family to family. On top of this is the loneliness they feel without the comforts of their biological family. 

Because of this, the risk of developing mental health problems for foster kids is high. The American Academy of Pediatrics associates this with the fact that most of their physical, emotional, and mental needs are not met. Some of the statistics that they revealed regarding the mental issues of a foster child are the following: 

– More than half of the children in foster care have clinical mental health problems

– Upon growing up, 34% of these individuals experience more than two mental health disorders

– 11.6% of the foster care population experiences Panic Disorder at least once in their lives

With this in mind, what is your role as a parent in ensuring that the child’s mental health stays healthy throughout? Here are ways on how you can support them in this journey. 

Establish Effective Communication

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One of the traumas that foster children experience is being unheard of. Given that they do not have someone look after them most of the time, they long for someone they can talk to. Therefore, it is your primary responsibility to listen to them. 

Make sure that you don’t treat them as if they are an outsider. Let them know that you’ll always be there for them despite not being blood-related. Make them feel comfortable by offering help whenever they have any problems or whenever they encounter difficulty adjusting. Allow them to vent out their concern before giving your advice.

Take Care Of Your Mental Health First

To be able to take care of your foster child’s mental health, you have to take care of yourself first. You will only be able to fulfill your responsibility fully if you’re as stable as you need to be. The best way to go about this is to find a support network. 

Believe it or not, foster parenting isolates you from the world most of the time. The majority of the people do not understand how it works, and they are likely to judge you for what you’re doing. They’ll question your desire to house someone who is practically a stranger to you. Having to deal with these can cause you to feel stressed and sad. 

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However, you are lucky to have co-foster parents who can fully understand where you are. Make sure to maintain constant connection and communication with them. It is vital to have people who can understand you and the challenges you’re facing.

Should you have questions on the technicalities of foster parenting, ask them for advice. If you feel the need to take a break, call them. This support group will be healthy for you and your child’s mental health in the long run.

Implement Positive Discipline In Conflict Resolutions

Foster children experience extreme things throughout their lives. Therefore, there will always be instances where they’ll do something terrible and unacceptable. Their capacity to differentiate right from wrong might be a little rusty because of how they grew up. 

Always keep in mind that these kids are doing their best. What they’re doing may not be aligned with your values, but you can always address them. Sufficient conflict resolution requires love and support, not punishment, and stern discipline. Understand that corporal punishment may not be the best way to go because of the trauma they have faced in the past. 

Here’s how you should attack conflict resolution

1. Understand Your Children’s Behavior 

Deep dive into what makes them who they are and focus on that. If you don’t know the reason behind every move, it will be hard for you to solve it. 

2. Build A Solid Bond With Your Child

Be as open as possible, and do not keep secrets from them, especially if something is related to their identity. Once they trust you, it will be easier to talk to them and improve their behavior. 

3. Always Remain Calm 

There will always be instances where your foster child will push you to your limits. However, losing your cool will only push them away. Always be gentle to them and never hurt them physically to discipline them. 

4. Reward Them 

Whenever they do something good no matter how simple it is, make sure to reward them. This technique is what we call positive reinforcement. If you show your appreciation to them, they’ll tend to do better. 

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A Challenging Role

It is not a surprise to others that being a foster parent is challenging to do. It demands a lot of sacrifice from youtime, money, commitment, and effort. Add to this the difficulty in ensuring that your child is healthy physically and mentally. But along with difficulty is a complement of a fulfilling emotion.

The fact that you’re providing an impact on a child’s life should be enough to make you happy. It may be chaotic, messy, and unpredictable, but it is also gratifying, redemptive, and remarkable. These are feelings that most people won’t feel in a typical setup. As a foster parent, you’ll be lucky enough to experience these fantastic emotions. 

 

Things You Should Never Say To A Foster Family

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Fostering can be a sensitive topic. It’s understandable if you’re unsure if it’s appropriate to ask questions or discuss something related to the situation. However, curiosity can lead to awkward, uncomfortable, and inappropriate queries. For everyone’s reference, here are things you shouldn’t say or do around foster families.

Don’t Bad-Mouth The Biological Families

When someone meets foster kids, they tend to make assumptions about their biological families. Every child comes from different circumstances and is in a different situation. The system may have taken some children out of their homes due to abusive families.

However, some may be unable to take care of their families due to mental illness, financial struggles, and other reasons. Some biological parents will even be able to get their kids back later on. It is incredibly insensitive to judge the foster child’s biological family. It can also be hurtful to badmouth the parents in front of the kids.

Further, their backstory is confidential. Foster parents will be unable to share that much information in the first place. Please don’t assume what their life was like before being in the system.

Don’t Ask Us About Money Matters

Okay, it isn’t always inappropriate to discuss finances. However, some people hold the assumption that foster parents make money by taking care of the kids. First of all, they’re not babysitters, and fostering isn’t for profit. There is no monetary gain to it.

While the state may provide some funds for the child’s needs, it isn’t always enough. Some parents will have to shoulder some expenses personally. Foster care isn’t or shouldn’t be something people get into to make money.

Don’t Tell The Kids They’re Lucky To Have Foster Parents

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Children in the system, even with caring foster families, are far from “lucky.” It can be quite tone-deaf to say that they are such.

Imagine strange adults coming into your home one day and taking you from your parents. You have no warning, and you have no idea what’s going on. These strangers then bring you to other people you don’t know. They then tell you that these unfamiliar adults will be taking care of you from now on. That doesn’t sound like such a lucky situation anymore.

You can be happy that they’ve found a compassionate family to live with temporarily. However, this toxic positivity can be harmful, pressuring people to be cheerful or find a silver lining.

“Just like something that is done in excess, when positivity is used to mask or silence the human experience, it becomes lethal. By not allowing the existence of certain feelings, we fall into a state of denial and repressed emotions,” explains Jamie Long, PsyD.

Don’t Tell Us We Should Adopt The Kids

Unfortunately, not everyone understands that there’s a difference between fostering and adopting. A kid in foster care does not automatically go through the process of adoption. Being a foster child can be a temporary arrangement. Their legal guardian also maintains full parental rights over their kids. These children can then later go back to their biological families.

You shouldn’t tell foster parents to adopt the kids because this decision isn’t up to them. They don’t get to decide whether they can do so, or even if they’ll be up for adoption first place. It may also give the children a false sense of hope. It can even cause distress for them, thinking that they’ll never see their biological family again. 

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Don’t Ask Us If We Can Bring Them Back

Keep in mind that you’re talking about a human being, not an object you can return to a store. These kids may have issues and troubles, but those challenges should never be a reason to get rid of them.

Foster children need someone to stand by them, even when they act up. It’s also the same for someone’s biological kids. You wouldn’t put them up for adoption because you have difficulty dealing with them, would you? Why should kids in foster care be any different?

Don’t Offer Unsolicited Advice

Unless someone asks for advice, it isn’t always polite or appropriate to offer it up. Such is true even in situations when someone is dealing with their biological kids. Everyone has their parenting style, and kids will react and receive it differently. What may work for your family may not be the best for another.

Don’t Tell Us How Difficult It Must Be

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Trust us; foster parents already know how challenging their situation can be. There are several rules they have to follow. There’s also the attachment they might feel and the hurt when their foster kids go back. Raising children is a trial in general. They don’t need a reminder.

Instead of talking about how it might be difficult for them, discuss something helpful instead. Ask about how you can help around. Let your friends vent about their problems and struggles as a foster family.

Conclusion: Discussing Foster Families

It’s best when people make an effort to learn more about fostering. It’s also helpful to read up on things that may be inappropriate to say to these families. Things like talking negatively about biological parents, calling the kids lucky, and talking about making money are colossal no-no’s. If you’re ever unsure what may be insensitive, you can always ask if it’s okay to know.

 

 

How Coronavirus Affects Foster Care Worldwide

I am a mother of five kids. Two of them are biological, while the other three are adopted. My husband and I decided to adopt for the first time when I did not think that I could bear a child. We had been married for seven years at the time, but no fertility method was working. So, we decided to ask orphanages about the possibility of adopting a baby.

That’s when we found Michael, our first son. I fell in love with his curly hair and big eyes as soon as I saw him, and the adoption process started right away. Miraculously, a year after that, I got pregnant with twins, so my husband and I felt very blessed.

A couple of years later, though, the head of the same orphanage where we got Michael contacted us. She commended us first for raising the boy fantastically and then talked about twin babies who were left outside their gate. She said, “It would be incredible if we could find a home for the two of them.” After a long conversation with my husband, we decided to drive down to the orphanage. Given the number of kids that I mentioned above, well, you know that we took those babies in and cared for them like our own.

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Now, the story of Michael and the young twins is not rare. There are plenty of abandoned, abused, or orphaned children across the globe who need to love and feel loved. Thus, as someone who has adopted three kids, I worry about the foster care system worldwide, especially now that there is a coronavirus outbreak.

Here are some things I have learned.

Fewer Kids May Get Adopted Legally

Adoption sounds like an easy task for outsiders, but that’s not true at all. Besides your lack of interest in hurting the child in any way, the judges determine if you can handle another kid financially.

Because of the lockdown, though, a high number of individuals cannot go to work. Even if someone has savings, it may not suffice to pay the bills, get groceries, and hire a lawyer to process the adoption papers. The result is that the legal adoption comes to a halt and may only resume when everything goes back to normal again.

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More Parents Have Been Reported For Child Abuse

The lockdown that prevails in many countries has put adults in an awful place, mentally speaking. Being cooped up in the same house for days can make you cranky or snappy. If a person has some form of addiction, anger management problem, or other issues, it is not surprising for them to become violent towards the children under their care. It explains the rise of child abuse cases everywhere and pushes the court to deny such people’s requests to adopt kids.

The Silver Lining: Deserving Parents In Canada Don’t Need To Wait For The End Of Lockdown Before Getting The Adoption Papers Approved By The Court

I read a touching article the other day about a Canadian couple who were trying to adopt a baby girl. Their court appearance got postponed due to the lockdown, but the kind judge allowed them to do everything through a video conference. Before the call ended, therefore, the baby girl became their daughter legally.

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My research is admittedly not extensive enough to know if the other countries intend to follow suit. However, this new process ensures that deserving parents need not wait any longer before their adoption papers get signed by a judge. The more it happens, the more kids can grow up in a nurturing home.

Final Thoughts

It breaks my heart as a parent to know that there are children in the world who need to wait longer before getting adopted due to COVID-19. It pains me more, though, that some foster parents turn violent because of the situation. The latter leaves the child hurt and homeless.

My only prayer at this point is that the foster care system in every part of the globe will be as good as the one in Canada. This way, the kids and their adoptive parents can all live blissfully.

Pros And Cons Of Becoming A Foster Parent

Adopting or fostering a child (or teenager) will take a great deal of support from your “village” and knowledge about attachment, trauma, and patience. — 

Deciding if you are ready to become a foster parent might be exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time. Fostering a child is not an easy way of life. It is something that will change you and your perspective indefinitely. To consider your choices, here are some pros and cons of becoming a foster parent.

Cons Of Becoming A Foster Parent

Social Workers May Not Tell You Everything

As a foster parent, you have to learn how to provide for your child. This aspect of foster parenting applies to their physical, mental, and emotional health.

However, social workers may not give you complete information about the child’s needs. This lack of data can leave you confused and lost. Take note that it is crucial to inquire about everything. No bit of information is too trivial for your child’s sake.

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Judgment From Other People

People are quick to judge, and you might receive unwanted attention. Questions, comments, and stares can test your strength. Aside from that, social workers will also check and see if you are suitable enough for childcare. The best way to deal with judgment is patience, a sense of humor, and determination that you want to care for the child.

Trust Goes Both Ways

Many children under foster care came from abusive families. To foster a child means you have to consider this fact. They might not trust you at first because they are in a foreign environment. You have to be patient in providing stability in their lives.

Leaving Your Home

In some cases, the child will leave their foster homes and go back to their birth parents. This situation varies at any given time. The level of trust you have with the child, their legal representative and their birth parent is essential. If this scenario occurs, you have to learn how to let go and hope for the best.

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Families who are parenting children from hard places need to develop skills for how to parent children with trauma histories and attachment difficulties. — Jamie D. Aten Ph.D.

Pros Of Becoming A Foster Parent

Helping Children Who Need A Home

Irresponsibility runs rampant all around the world. As a result, some children are born in unfair situations. Becoming a foster parent allows you to change that. You will be able to provide a positive influence for children and be the change this world needs.

Aid Is By Your Side

You do not have to bear the responsibility all alone. Once you become a foster parent, there will be various resources and support for your family. There is training provided for learning how to raise a foster child. Monetary compensation is also given to help you get started. Depending on the state you live in, there will be benefits such as free grocery supplies and school lunch programs.

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Foster Parenting Can Be Rewarding

There is no better feeling than witnessing your child grow under your care. Your unrelenting patience, determination, and love will come to fruition. When it does, it will give you a sense of accomplishment as a parent. The experience of foster parenting is unforgettable, and you will get rewarded for your efforts.

Researchers discovered the key ingredient to successful parenting is how well the parents work together and support each other as a couple. — Rick Nauert PhD

Being a foster parent is a blessing and an opportunity that will change you. Your view on life, love, and family are guaranteed to change. It will be worth it, despite the hardships. You will realize that at the end of this experience, you and your child have grown to become better.

Best Parenting Apps This 2020

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From apps that chart fetal development during pregnancy to those that track a newborn’s feeding and sleeping schedules, parents can follow and document virtually every aspect of their young one’s growth effortlessly — all on their smart phone or other devices. — Susan Newman Ph.D.

Technology is improving our lives in terms of organizing everything. It also includes the way you, as a parent, handle your whole family, especially your children.

Today, countless parenting applications can guide you in every element and aspect of being a parent. Here are some of the best parenting apps you can download on your devices this 2020.

Baby Connect

Being a parent of a baby is never easy. There are a lot of things running in your mind. These include when to feed them, what their sleeping schedule is, when their next doctor’s appointment is, and whose turn it is to take care of the baby.

With Baby Connect, it is now more convenient for you to organize both short-term and long-term tasks for your child. What’s good about this program is its simple and intuitive user interface.

Cozi

Cozi is suitable for co-parenting needs. Different features make it stand out. For one, it allows both parents to share their calendars and photos and create to-do lists together. This strategy is a way for them to manage both their home and work tasks better.

What’s unique about Cozi is that it allows the users to store and share the recipes of their favorite meals. It is a handy tool for whoever is in charge of cooking in the household for a day.

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Baby Sleep Sounds

Are you tired of carrying your baby and lulling them to sleep while having to sing to them at the same time? Well, you don’t have to worry anymore. Baby Sleep Sounds are one of the most unique and useful apps out there. It offers a variety of soothing sleep sounds and lullabies that you can play while making your baby sleep.

Aside from this, it also has a timer and a night light feature that you can set if you’re not beside your child.

Even when stress hormones are revving us up, calming takes place when another person is empathic, attuned, and non-judgmental. Unconsciously received signals slow our heart rate and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. — Tom Bunn L.C.S.W.

Parenthood

The Parenthood app is perfect no matter how old your child is. It has unique features that no other app offers, such as tracking developmental milestones, perusing expert tips for the whole family, and accessing educational resources. Its dashboard also allows you to connect with other user parents from whom you can ask advice.

Parenting Apart

Parenting Apart is an app created by a well-known divorce coach and parent educator, Christina McGhee. The program aims to focus on emotional issues for children and parents instead of tackling parenting practicalities.

Source: divorceandchildren.com

Some of its most significant features include adjustment issues, emotional phases, challenges in parenting apart, and other tips and inspiring stories from the creator. Consider this as a digital robot where you can get professional advice at any time.

Getting up, dressed, or going to bed are some of the everyday routines covered. An animated hourglass offers upbeat instructions to the children followed by victory music when they beat the timer. — Robert A. Lavine Ph.D.

ChoreMonster

ChoreMonster is an app that makes chores more fun and more engaging. Its goal is to monitor the chores of the kids and reward them for completing both their daily and weekly assigned tasks.

The tracking process lets the kids earn points per chore completed. They can use the points they accumulate to claim prizes such as an hour of TV screen time, a pint of ice cream, or extra video game time.

Whether you’re a parent-to-be or a parent of toddlers and teens, these parenting apps will be your best companion in this crazy and challenging ride. So, what are you waiting for? Download now!

A Psychologist’s Advice: Discipline Your Child

The role of every parent is not an easy one because it always carries with it several problems and challenges. No matter how great you are as a parent, there will always come a time when you will feel lost about what you are going through. On top of all the things that you must do, other people expect you to be perfect at being a parent. Because of this, you may feel a lot of anxiety and stress. Do not fret for there are tons of options that you can do to beat all those negative emotions. In this article, we are going to share the smart ways on how to make it happen through the advice we received from an excellent psychologist.

Discipline is a touchy topic for many, especially because it requires so much from parents: persistence, tolerance (in the face of loud, out-of-control feelings), stepping into the unknown (a given), and faith (that discipline will work!). — Ben Ringler, MFT

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Before we go into the details, we want to remind every parent like you that you play a crucial or vital role in the upbringing of your children. You must learn how to take responsibility in fulfilling all your duties because one wrong move can alienate your kids from you or even make them grow as rebels in society. You must learn how to give the right amount of love and understanding to your kids so that they can also cultivate a lifestyle that is full of happiness and greatness.

 

The primary focus of today’s article is concerning the significance of helping your child become a responsible member of the community. Make sure that you see to it that your children are highly disciplined at all times. Failure to do any of these acts can lead to severe problems in your part. Check the list below to find the methods on how to discipline a child:

 

Keep Your Cool

 

The initial step that you must do is to learn how to control yourself when it comes to dealing with your child. Take note that he is still young, which means that he does not know a lot of things in this world. You cannot expect him to function well if he can see that you can get out of control when you are mad. The best and ideal thing to do is to compose yourself at all times, especially during the moments when your little one seems to test your patience. Remind yourself that the more you calm yourself, the easier it would be for him also to calm himself.

 

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 Consider the origins of the word “discipline.” It comes from the word “disciple,” which, of course, is a person who receives instruction from another person. Parents who have what I call a “punishment mentality” don’t teach their children to make positive changes in their behavior. — Jeffrey Bernstein Ph.D.

Use Positive Reinforcement

 

Another thing or idea that you may want to consider is to use the psychology of positive reinforcement wherein you will reward your child whenever he does something good. Make sure that the ultimate reward is commensurate with the good deed that he has done. Do not give something that can be overwhelming as it can send a negative signal to him. He will end up confused to the point that he will be clueless on what to do next. If you still feel that he has not improved through this method, it is best to change your strategies every now and then. Keep in mind that several experts have already concluded that this method works as long as you know how to apply it systematically.

 

Withdraw Privileges At Home

 

Whenever your child does something terrible, be sure that he also gets punished for it. Of course, you must not punish him physically or emotionally as it can affect your child’s mental health or state. What you must do is to slowly take away some of his rights and privileges so that you can teach him a lesson. For example, you can restrict the usage of gadgets at home whenever he talks back at you or whenever he does something outrageous to other people. Through this simple act, he will be reminded that what he did was wrong. Since something special was taken from him as a punishment, there is a good chance that he refrain himself from making the same mistakes.

 

Communicate With Your Kid

 

One of the things that many parents fail to do is to establish a real and positive communication line among their kids. Most adults assume that they already know their children, which is why they no longer feel the need to check up on the latter. If you think similarly, then there is something wrong with you. At this point, it is imperative to point out the fact that communication between parents and kids must be effective at all times. If you noticed something good about your child, make sure to let him know about it. Conversely, if you discovered something negative, let him know why it was erroneous.

 

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People don’t just stumble upon good parenting. Parenting well, like any other skill in life, is something we learn not just through what we were taught when we were growing up, but by expanding our strengths and skills when we become parents ourselves. — Ben Martin, Psy.D.

Be a responsible parent starting today!