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Bonding with children in foster care

Bonding with children in foster care

People thinking about becoming foster carers often worry that they don’t have the expertise to deal with challenging behaviours. However, many households already have the foundations and skills that will contribute to building better lives for children who’ve had a tough start. You could be more ready than you think to be a foster carer.

Modelling appropriate behaviour and offering a consistent and nurturing approach can have powerful results

Bonding with children in foster careSome children exhibit problems with attachment as a result of not being able to bond appropriately with parents or caregivers as young children. The barriers to bonding are varied and can include neglect or abuse. Other factors can be illness or family bereavement. In the majority of instances this lack of bonding is associated with a lack of appropriate skills, knowledge or support.

The behavioural and emotional impact of attachment problems for children vary in type and degree depending on the circumstances. They can include inappropriate emotional responses (such as anger or sadness during what might normally be a ‘happy’ occasion), avoidance of intimacy or not engaging on an emotional level or being able to share their feelings.

Many foster children do not experience these attachment problems. But for some children the very experiences that result in them entering care can result in them facing challenges in navigating important relationships later in life.

How can I help?

Parents and caregivers can reduce the impact of attachment problems and help children to relate well with others.

Baptcare Foster carers receive training and advice to help them identify and understand the types of behaviours they may see in kids who have problems with attachment. The training also arms them with real-life strategies they can use in their day-to-day lives. People who go through this training often tell us it has given them insights and knowledge that has helped with their own children and other relationships.

Here are three common-sense ways you can help:

  1. Model and teach appropriate behaviour. Kids who have a rocky start in life can have problems knowing how to interact with other children and adults. One of the best ways you can help is to model, teach and coach in day-to-day situations. Children see, hear and imitate.
  2. Be consistent, predictable and repetitive. Children who experience attachment problems can be sensitive to new situations, changes in schedule or surprises. Your efforts to provide a consistent, predictable and safe environment will help to make a child feel safe and secure. If a child feels anxious or fearful they are less likely to be responsive to your efforts to nurture them.
  3. Tune in and nurture children. Kids need to be held and cuddled, particularly if they are experiencing some attachment problems. Of course, you need to be attuned to how a child reacts to nurturing and react accordingly. No two kids are the same, and no two kids will have had the same experiences or have the same needs.

Start the conversation today.
Baptcare is a foster care agency operating in Melbourne’s Western and inner Northern suburbs. If you would like to talk about becoming a carer or have questions about the process please call Ana at Baptcare on 03 9373 3800, fill out our enquiry form or email fostercare@baptcare.org.au

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