Wednesday, February 17, 2021


 Triggers are massive in fostering.

Triggers happen in everyone's head all day long. You know how it goes; one thought leads to another that leads to another then is followed by a thought that gives you a feeling, the same sensation you felt at the time when the thing you've found yourself remembering actually happened.

Example; like many I've been doing lots of things 'virtually'. Blue Sky Social workers can help and support us long distance using laptops or phones. The word 'Zoom' enters my head ten times a week. 

And it's a trigger.

It makes me feel happy and nostalgic in a way it probably doesn't for anyone else. It's a good trigger.

Many triggers, maybe most triggers, are bad. From nowhere we find ourselves remembering things that don't make us feel good, they set us on edge. We find ourselves feeling anxious or embarrassed about something that happened way back. Funny how we have sharper memories of things we'd rather forget than things we'd love to be thinking about all day!

This phenomenon is especialy true for children in care.

There was the child who had a panic attack for no apparent reason around tea time. Turned out the sound of a ring pull being pulled on a can of beans triggered memories of his stepdad's lager drinking which often ended in anger and violence. The child hadn't made the connection and it took us a while to pin it down.

Another child who went into meltdown when her carer rushed out to put out the wheelie bin with a look of urgency on her face. The child saw the expression and mistakenly connected it to the look one of the adults in her house had on her face when there was trouble on the way.

If you can work gently with your foster child and identify triggers you're halfway to fixing a lot of their upsets.

Take current eldest child. When the child arrived I used to shout up the stairs when it was time to come down for tea and there'd often be a kerfuffle. Turned out the child's abuser was a shouter and any raised voices got the defences up. I took to walking upstairs humming and whispering through the door that tea was ready. Why did I hum on my way up? Because lots of foster children develop super-hearing which they needed to stay one step ahead of trouble in the house. They can hear everything that's going on and it can trigger fearful memories if they hear anonymous footsteps on the stairs heading their way. 

What tune do I hum?

Well, these days it's often an eighties song by a group called Fat Larry's Band (I know, I know…probably couldn't call themselves that these days.) It has happy memories for me of a sweet little romance I had way back before I met the actual love of my life.

The song was called "Zoom".

See what I'm saying?


Post a Comment