Being a foster parent can be a challenge in more ways than one. While there are the ones related to the need for building trust in the relationship and making the child comfortable in the environment you offer, the biggest challenge is to discipline them. A majority of foster children do suffer from behavioral issues because they come from troubled backgrounds, which makes it tough to handle them. Anger, tantrums, verbal abuse, disobedience, and physical brawls are some of the issues that you may have to deal with.
At the same time, the fact is that carers cannot resort to corporal punishment to correct the ways of these children. This is because the system does not allow them to do so. However, handling indiscipline in them is still possible if you take the right approach towards dealing with it. Let us list a few tried and tested disciplinary techniques that can help you to become a successful foster parent.
Ignoring their tantrums
If you are raising a young child in foster care, ignoring their tantrums is perhaps the best way to deal with them. They may gradually outgrow these tantrums as they become more comfortable in the new environment. However, you should pick your battles wisely because there are some behavioral issues that you cannot overlook. The ones that pose danger to the child or influence other children in the family should be dealt with more firmly.
Distracting and redirecting
Another strategy that you can try to discipline a foster child is to distract them and redirect them to do something more productive. Again, this strategy is useful for younger children who can be influenced to a considerable extent. For example, if the little one is getting destructive with toys, you can engage them in cleaning the room, reading a storybook or helping you with small tasks in the kitchen. Once the child becomes involved in an activity of their choice, it becomes easier to deal with their behavioral issues.
Encouraging them to share their feelings
As a parent, you need to break the ice and know what exactly the child is going through. Perhaps, there could be a valid reason behind their behavioral issues, such as someone bullying them at school or the pressure of matching up with your biological children. Involve them in open discussion and try to win their confidence so that they can share their feelings. Being there for them encourages them to behave better and be disciplined.
Handling them with unconditional love
There are some tricky situations when you need unconditional love to disciple the foster child. One of these is when you opt for mother-baby placement because the young mother will be already be stressed enough to take the conventional disciplinary actions positively. The best way would be to give her lots of love and be there for her. You can go through https://perpetualfostering.co.uk/insights/mother-baby-placements-everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know/ to know more about the challenges of this situation.
Having a privilege system in place
A well-established privilege system for the foster child can help you in defining boundaries for him or her. Make it clear that they can earn a privilege by behaving well or lose it by misbehaving. You can select a privilege based on the age and liking of the child and incentivize them for maintaining discipline or punish them for breaking rules.
Evaluating the child’s behavior periodically
It is important to chart the child’s behavior on a periodic basis to identify their triggers. This will help you understand when and why a child misbehaves and also address these triggers with appropriate action. This is an effective measure if the child is not willing to open up and observing them appears to be the best possible alternative.
Seeking professional help
Some children are particularly challenging and you may not be able to discipline them in any way. It is best to seek professional help of a behavioral therapist or counselor in such cases to identify and resolve the issues that plague them. These professionals will hold weekly sessions with the child as well as your family to understand the real reason behind the child’s behavior. Further, they can help the child to deal with their past traumas and become a more balanced individual.
As a foster parent, you will need to practice a great deal of patience and restraint when it comes to disciplining a child. Anger and punishment will only make things worse. The best approach is to understand their problems and find effective solutions to deal with them effectively.