Foster parents are not permitted to apply corporal punishment with foster children, so adoptive parents should be wise to try other discipline techniques to avoid corporal punishment due to many children’s experiences with abuse and neglect.
When you become a foster parent or adopt a child, you are often put into a position to manage challenging behavior. Foster children have usually suffered abuse and neglect, so they often express their feelings through behavior. The same is true for some internationally adopted children who lived in an orphanage. Here are a few ideas for child discipline that can help numerous foster and adoptive families.
Strategies for Disciplining Foster Children
Redirect. It is sometimes helpful to try to distract a child’s unwanted behavior with redirection. For instance, if your child keeps on pestering a sibling, try involving him in a different activity in another room or engage him in performing a chore together with you.
Overlook the Behavior. For foster parents, this could be one of the toughest ways to discipline, as ignoring the behavior is rather very difficult. Make sure that you are overlooking a behavior that is not harmful to the child or others. It’s not a wise decision to ignore a fire-starting behavior, but it would not be too hard to ignore thumb sucking, or refusing to pick up toys. Make sure to choose your battles.
Timeout. Giving children a timeout is probably one of the oldest parenting tools when it comes to discipline. This practice entails placing a child in a corner or on a timeout chair for a particular timeframe. The timeframe that most parents usually use is the child’s age plus one minute. The child is often made to stand or sit facing the wall.
But remember that this may not be a good idea for children who have attachment issues. Make sure to do more research or ask your child’s therapist if this discipline strategy would be a suitable discipline method for a child that has attachment issues. If so, consider the next approach.
Time-In. Time-in involves having your child stick by your side for a set number of minutes, and he does what you are. If you are washing dishes, the child must stand right next to the parent or help with the chore. Make sure only to consider this discipline strategy if you, the parent, is not overly stressed. You should not employ this method when your child is already working on your last shred of sanity.
Talk to a Professional. There are some behavioral issues that may be too big for you as a parent to handle on your own. Consider setting up weekly sessions for the therapist and child to work together. You can also opt for family sessions. The therapist can help your foster child further work through past trauma to help overcome behavior issues.
Talk With the Child About Their Feelings. One of the easiest methods to deal with your child’s behaviors may be to talk with him about what he is feeling. Help him understand why he is acting out. If he slams around the breakfast cereal bowls, he may be feeling angry. If he is sulking, he may be feeling sad. It may seem logical and easy for us parents, but a lot of traumatized children may be detached from their emotions and cannot fully recognize what they are feeling or why. You can help identify feelings with discussions.
Earning or Losing Privileges. Another easy way to discipline your child is to help him see how they can gain privileges with the right behavior and lose it with the wrong ones. That is how the world works most of the time, anyway.
You can compare work and the earning of a paycheck, and theft and earning prison time and the loss of freedom to illustrate this more clearly. Earning or losing privileges can also be getting or losing a treasured object, an opportunity, or a privilege.
Regular Family Meetings. One good way of dealing with difficult behaviors may be meeting together as a family to talk about various topics. Make sure to keep the meeting under control and think of fun ways to give everyone a chance to speak.
Make sure to remain positive with the children. Don’t let the meeting become a way for the children to attack each other or to attack you, the parents. It would also help to have a family meeting when new foster children first enter your home, and to try to hold family meetings weekly.
Chart Your Child’s Behavior. Behavior charts can be useful in targeting not only the behaviors that the children need to work on, but also behavior where the children are thriving. This will help recognize the children’s everyday success.
Behavior charts can also help you and your child get a clear view of how they are progressing with targeted behaviors, like cussing, laziness in doing school work, arguing, and more. The charts can also be valuable in helping social workers and birth parents see how the child is doing in the foster home.
Use Multiple Child Discipline Strategies. It would also be helpful to use multiple discipline strategies when working with your foster children. You can easily turn a behavior chart into privilege when you use stickers to track the improvement of the behavior they’re working on.
Working with behavior is one part of foster or adoptive parenting that is often not very comfortable, but it’s one of the most crucial ways to help children and families get back on track. If we want our foster children to become productive citizens one day, we must aide them in handling their behaviors. We must help them understand why they do the things they do, understand their feelings, and overcome maladaptive coping or survival skills.
If you are considering fostering a child, Courage Community Foster Care can help you. Our staff will help you through every stage of the foster parenting experience from the orientation and certification to providing meaningful support after the placement of your foster children.
To know more about foster parenting, please call us, Courage Community Foster Care, at 719-321-4319