Here are five hints on making connections with your hard-to-reach foster child.
LISTEN AND OBSERVE.
Begin where your child is. Let him or her teach you how to reach him. Does he play games on his handheld device? Try playing with him. Does his face show emotion? Put it into words for him or make a face back.
FOCUS ON THE GOOD STUFF.
When you observe any behavior worth affirming, encourage it with a touch, a “high five,” or a thank you. Pay attention to the small positive happenings.
Judging those around us is the biggest obstacle to satisfactory relationships. (aka love). Educator Maria Montessori wisely commented that the more you want to give counsel, the more the child needs support. When your child needs correction or direction, far more effective to take the responsibility on yourself. Use “I” messages. “I get upset when you…..” Or “I can’t let you do that anymore.”
BEHIND EVERY ANGER, THERE’S A HURT.
If you can reach past the anger to touch the hurt or pain, the child’s anger may dissolve. After mother insisted on curfew, her child called her an obscene name. Dad responded angrily: “Don’t you ever talk to your mother like that again.” If instead, dad had responded to the child that “This must be a hard time for you,” the conflict might have changed. Or even with a simple “Ouch!” Dad could try “I” messages as mentioned above. If those fail to defuse the emotions, dad can always take personal command. “Because I say so’ or “That’s the way it’s going to be.” Then, ignoring the angry comment or outburst. fix the curfew problem.
ENCOURAGE POSITIVE EMOTIONS.
Two-year-old Steve jumps up and down and laughs. Jump up and down with him. Try gymnastics together. Draw and color with your reluctant youngster. Take walks with your child, notice what you see, and make up stories like Dr. Seuss did in “To Think that I Saw It on Mulberry Street.” Tell stories. Dance and sing with your quiet child. Plan situations designed to arouse or stimulate her. And never discourage a passionate interest.