Does your foster child sometimes struggle to regulate their emotions?
Do not worry, you’re not alone. Many of the children and young people coming into care suffer from severe emotional delays, often due to their past experience of neglect and abuse. Sadly, it’s not uncommon for a looked after child to not be reaching the same emotional milestones as those living with their parents.
As a foster carer, you’re able to provide them with this nurturing home life they need to develop their emotional intelligence. So we thought we’d put together some helpful steps you can try to help your children on their journey to becoming more self-aware of their emotions, and how they can deal with them.
1) Be Sympathetic
It is so important that you find a connection with your foster child when they are angry and frustrated. Encourage them to talk to you about how they are feeling and try to remain non-judgemental when you are listening. This way, your child is more likely to come to you when they are feeling emotional to talk it out rather than acting out. You may be the first person to really take the time to try and understand their point of view on a situation.
2) Remind them that what they are feeling is okay
It is crucial to let your children know that what they are feeling is okay and a perfectly healthy human emotion, they should not feel guilty for their feelings. However, they do need to learn healthy coping strategies to deal with their emotions because their actions do have consequences.
3) Use mindfulness
There has been an increasing amount of research demonstrating the incredible benefits that mindfulness can have on children and adults. Try and find some mindfulness activities that are suited to your foster child’s likes and interests, for example, drawing. Then if your child becomes upset and frustrated, try and use these as a way to diffuse the situation before it escalates.
4) Play games
Your child following all of your instructions won’t happen overnight, after all you may be the first person to set up boundaries and rules with them. However, if you can bring games into your daily routine, such as ‘Simon Says’ and the traffic light game, your children are learning to follow instructions whilst having fun at the same time!
5) Model Your Behaviour
When a child enters your care, they are constantly learning new ways to deal with their emotions and the world around them – while using you as their example on how to do this. This is why it is so important that children and young people have adults around them who can regulate their emotions in a healthy way and employ coping strategies when they need to.
The main thing to remember is that many children entering care do not have the coping skills to deal with their emotions and therefore require a lot of patience, love and nurturing from their foster carers. If you have any concerns or would like to speak to somebody, then your social worker is always happy to chat.