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Foster Child behaviour management strategies

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Children typically learn by observing, listening and interacting with the adults who are taking care of them.

That’s why some children in foster care may exhibit negative behaviour due to the experiences they’ve had in their younger years . In some cases, this creates the need for foster parents to learn foster child behaviour management strategies.

If a child in your care is displaying common challenging behaviours, or you’re researching into fostering as a career and want to know more, this guide highlights all you need to know about managing challenging behaviour in fostering.

What is behaviour management in children?

Behaviour management is the application of various techniques or strategies which enforce positive behaviour in children. These techniques can be as simple as setting out clear expectations and praising children when they behave well.

Foster children may demonstrate challenging behaviour in a number of ways, such as:

  • Stealing money
  • Acting in a rude or aggressive way
  • Causing arguments
  • Being destructive
  • Self-harm
  • Running away

This is not an exhaustive list, as there can be multiple indicators of challenging behaviour.

Causes of challenging behaviour

However, there are some triggers of challenging behaviour that you, as a foster parent, can either try to avoid or should be aware of. Causes of challenging behaviour can include:

If you suspect your foster child is experiencing any of these triggers, it’s important to discuss this as soon as possible with your social worker and support team. They can help to provide relevant behaviour management techniques for the challenging behaviour.

Positive behaviour management strategies

If your foster children are showing signs of poor or challenging behaviour, it’s important to establish clear boundaries and rules. They may not have been exposed to positive behaviour strategies before, so it may take a while for them to adapt, but eventually, they’re likely to understand what is acceptable and what’s not. Some of the most common ways of managing challenging behaviour includes:

1. Clear house rules set in place for the whole family

For a foster child entering a new environment, they are not expected to understand or abide by any rules that are set in place. That’s why it’s your job as their carer to calmly explain the house rules to them, and also ensure that the whole family are abiding by these house rules – not just the foster children. If foster children in your care feel they are receiving different treatment to children already in the family, they may feel vulnerable and begin to act out either against them, or towards the adults.

It’s also especially important to ensure that you and your partner, if you have one, are always on the same page when it comes to instilling the rules – if one of you wavers on something, it will set an inconsistent approach to the positive behaviour strategies you’ve been working on. This may lead foster children to revert back to their previous behaviour, or even identify that there is inconsistency in authority and attempt to challenge it.

2. Outline expectations

For applying behaviour management techniques successfully, it’s vital to outline expectations. This could be something as simple as keeping their room tidy for one week or helping out with 3 household jobs in the week. Having specific expectations outlined can give foster children a sense of purpose and responsibility.

3. Lead by example

As a foster carer, it’s incredibly important that your behaviour influences them in a positive way. If they catch you raising your voice during a disagreement with your partner, for example, it may lead them to believe they are allowed to raise their voice in the same way during disagreements with family members.

Ensuring you behave in a way that you’d want your foster children to behave is important when applying behaviour management techniques – so they’ll have a secure, stable authoritative figure to look up to.

4. Praise, praise, praise!

Praise is one of the most powerful behaviour management techniques you can use. So, keep an eye out for praiseworthy behaviour that you can reinforce and ensure you’re receptive to their positive attitude. It’s common for foster children to often have low confidence or self-worth, yet with praise, these attributes can be improved which will, in turn, help foster children to express themselves more positively, too.

How can Capstone help?

Here at Capstone Foster Care, we understand that each child comes into care with varied and complex needs and provide an extra level of support through our specialist therapeutic training program MATTS (Multi-disciplinary Assessment Treatment & Therapy Service). If needed, we’ll provide additional therapy and strategies bespoke to your foster child’s needs. We provide our carers with extensive foster care training and support. If you need any help with foster child behaviour management strategies, our helpful team are always on hand to offer support and advice. Get in touch with us today, or find out more about how to foster a child today.

Thinking of fostering?

If you’ve got any questions or would like to find out more about fostering with Capstone, fill out the form below.
An experienced fostering advisor from your local area will then be in touch.

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