I had cause to consider the behaviour of our very settled, compliant young people, during a discussion with them this week. They described some of the things that they had got up to in their pre-fostering days. It was enlightening that they related such high level inappropriate / bad behaviours. It is hard to recognise that it is them in the stories that they relate.
When they first came to live with us we set in place routines, clear expectations and a very positive culture of acknowledging their needs and raising their self esteem. I suspect that many people assume once you take the kids away from “home” you expect them to be ok and they are not.
Many do become intensely destructive, attention-seeking or violent as we know from our early experience.
For us , using the “honeymoon period” when they first arrived to harness their energies, to tire them out and to build rapport, self –esteem and a relationship – which led on to secure attachment was critical to building a family home in which they could thrive.
We were not “told” what the kids had been through- but our experience with children in other fields meant that we didn’t need to know the level of vulnerability of the children – you could see it.
The problem for Rhiannon ( aged 18 ) ( Names changed ) , being so tiny ( at 4 foot 11 inches ) is that she finds it tricky to choose clothing that fits unless it is from the children’s section and choosing not to wear makeup compounds the problem.
This means that people can speak to her in a very condescending voice – even though she has successfully run a home with three other children and had been main carer to a mum with psychotic depression.
Fortunately this was not a problem for us. We have always spoken to children as small adults (this does not include collusion or sharing things that they don’t need to know / trouble themselves with) – and have learned from experience to deal with many adults the same way!
We have been described to our young people as 5 star carers who have given Rhiannon a 5 star fostering experience.
Social workers would say, that the young people in our care, are their most successful kids. We know that this is well meaning, but sadly this puts a huge amount of additional pressure on them and on us.
Jayne Robbins – A Blogging Foster Carer.