Monday, July 02, 2012

Thanks to those who have pitched up with comments. I’m pleased we are getting the feel that we are all together in fostering, it can be a bit lonely at times.


As Foster Carers we get plenty of excellent training on why children arrive in our homes with dysfunctional personalities.  We happy breed of amateur psychologists are ready and willing to learn about attachment disorders, the consequences of neglect, the emotional impact of abuse - to name but a few of the main causes.
Of course, it’s one thing to know why a child is chaotic, it’s another to know what to do to mend them. And to be fair, Blue Sky provide great support for the big goals of either returning them to their real family or a achieving a healthy independence.
But no-one can help us with the mundane day-to-day specifics of the individual looked after child. You may know that your child has been exposed to domestic violence, been denied food, and been cruelly punished for bed wetting. But how does that knowledge help you when they won’t get dressed for school? Or scream defiance at bedtime? Or refuse point blank to eat any fruit or vegetables.
So it’s up to us as carers to swap the little devices for the myriad of moments when we need to get a quick result.


The following have worked for me to varying degrees depending on the age and profile of the child, and whether you have enough energy left to do them with conviction…


Enjoy your vegetables yourself. Discuss their flavour at the table “Mmmm, these green beans are perfect, perhaps a little more salt?” “Do you think? I’m adding a twist of pepper to mine.”
Food is often a massive issue for children in care. They may not eat fruit willingly, but put a small bowl in their bedroom with an apple and a couple of bananas, tell them it’s their property, and you might get two results; they eat fruit, and don’t feel panicky about being hungry. Sure they’ll want biscuits too, so what? A few buttered cream crackers up there as well can do the same trick.


Believe it or not, making a race out of “Who can get dressed quickest” works (in own bedrooms with doors closed, obviously). Equally successful, is the old faithful “See if you can clean your teeth and come back before I count to 10”


I find turning any TV or music off downstairs helps enormously. I allow “quiet time” in the bedroom before lights out, and make sure their bedroom is more fun than downstairs. They’ve got toys, drawing materials and…a bedtime snack.


I am now a big fan of points for good behaviour and rewards. I used to think it was a cheap trick; a false premise, but hey, who goes to work for no money? Collectables are a great incentive, the current vogue is “Trashpacks”, creepy little foam models of garbage waste. I’ve cut a deal where the child can get up to fifteen points per day for three specific things they need to work on, such as “Doing as you are asked.” Seventy points won in seven days and the reward is theirs.


I hear so many parents telling their children to say please. They don’t ask them to say “please”, using the word itself. This is a bit dumb, frankly.


Don’t bother. Your child has possibly been subjected to punishments the like of which you couldn't imagine in your worst nightmares. Anything you've got is likely to be water off the proverbial duck's back. I hear some Carers talk about sending children to their bedroom as a punishment. Who are they kidding? It’s because they want a respite from the child. If you make their bedroom a place of punishment, how can you be surprised if they don’t want to go there at bedtime? Ask them to go into the living room and cool down, maybe. But as a rule, go for rewards.

There are others, but over to you. Click on the blue “Post a Comment” at the bottom of the page and add yours, if you have a moment.


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