One of the biggest challenges you will come across in fostering is managing a child’s behavior. The foster child coming from a troubled environment can express disruptive behaviors when they’re placed with a new family, and this can be difficult to deal with for everyone involved.
However, with the right approach, strategy and support from your social worker should make it easier to manage. Ultimately develop the behavioral habits of children in your care. This enables them to develop important life skills and developing a positive and fulfilling future for themselves.
In this blog, we look at 9 behavior strategies you can use to provide consistent, fair and effective parenting at home.
Psychologists created what is called an ‘ABC Behaviour Chart’, which will help us better understand where misbehaviour stems from. It covers behavioural triggers, actions to combat misbehaviour, and the consequences of such behaviour. Lets look at what the ABC stands for:
- Antecedents – These are the factors which influence a child’s behaviour and are often referred to as triggers. In the case of a foster child, an antecedent could be a neglectful upbringing or bullying, which has led directly to bad behaviour. By understanding a child’s family history, you’ll be better placed to recognise their triggers and come up with a strategy to deal with them.
- Behaviours – The behaviours you’d like to encourage or discourage, for example, swearing or hitting. There are many strategies for encouraging certain behavioural changes, which we cover more of below.
- Consequences – The consequences of a child’s behaviour, Every behaviour has a reaction either positive or negative, which directly follow an outburst. Both the parent and the child need to be clear about what the consequences are for misbehaviour, and you must take immediate action to ensure consistency.
The ABC model is especially useful for foster carers who are aware of their child’s behavioral issues. It is recommended to map out each behaviour the child expresses. This system will allow to identify the outburst and their triggers as well as getting down to the root cause of the problem. This will then allow for appropriate solutions to the outbursts or behavioural issues.
Once you know what triggers the childs behavioural issues you will have a system in place to manage it
2. Set Up a Rewards Chart
A reward chart is a great way of recognising good behavior and it can also be used to promote genuine behavioural change. This is a great incentive and a way of rewarding children for good behaviour or carrying out certain tasks, with an overall view to reinforce positive behaviour and achieve long-term change.
Chart posters are a great way to achieve this, agree goals with the child and what you want to achieve and how they will receive points, work with your child to tally them up and give them a reward at the end to recognise the good work.
3. Being Objective
This one can be extremely to do but is is really important to It can be ver remain calm, neutral and level-headed in the midst of an argument or following an act of disruptive behaviour on the part of a child. However, being objective is a useful way to calm a situation and can be a signal to the child that you have their best interests at heart and understand why they may be acting in this way.
Taking an objective stance on misbehaviour is challenging, but an unbiased and calm approach can help remove any attention-grabbing elements from their behaviour. Furthermore, it may help you see what triggered the behaviour, so you can come up with an effective way to deal with it in the future.
4. Build a Consistent Approach to Consequences and Reward
Whether you are rewarding a child for good behaviour or trying to manage inappropriate behaviour, you need to be consistent. It is especially important to ensure that all children in your care receive the same treatment, and there is no favouritism.
A consistent approach to a child’s behaviour relies on your ability to follow through on consequences and reward. If you warn the child of the consequences you need to see them through, and the same goes for rewarding good behaviour. This can help you to maintain authority and fairness within your foster family, and better manage their behaviour in the future.
5. Create a Family Rules Board
Before a child comes into your care, you should create a family rules board which sets out exactly what’s expected of the child, and what they can expect from you in return. Also, ask your looked after child to add suggestions to the family rules board, to ensure they feel part of the process. Sometimes, carers assume that a child will know what’s expected, but their previous experiences before coming into care may mean that they need a steer on what is acceptable and what is not in your home.
When creating a family rules board, be as clear as possible about specific rules and why they’re in place. This will not only help you manage their behaviour but can be a great tool to fall back on when reinforcing the consequences for misbehaviour. If it’s not on the board, they may be able to use this as an opportunity not to stick to the rules and question you on this, so be as clear and comprehensive as you can.
6. Selective Ignoring
Children sometimes act in a certain way to seek attention, for a whole host of reasons and when you react, this diminishes your authority and suggests to them that they have some control. In the case of minor attention-seeking behaviour, it can be useful to ignore this, simply by going about another task as normal or communicating with the child about something else.
The trick here is to not rise to the behaviour, disregarding it as if it never happened. Of course, this takes a lot of discipline, but it can be an effective way of preventing minor disruptive behaviour. This is only recommended for minor misbehaviours, however, and more serious disruption or aggression should be handled using different strategies.
7. Be Receptive to Positive Behaviour and Offer Praise
Praise and positivity can be one of the most powerful tools in reinforcing good behaviour at home, so it pays to be receptive to your child and offer positive feedback when it is warranted. Sometimes, foster children lack confidence and a sense of self-worth, so praise and positivity can work wonders in changing their attitude and behaviours.
However you offer praise, be it through a rewards chart or a verbal “well done that was fabulous” your words could say more than you realise, and could really help the child to feel that what they have done is positive, it matters, and they achieved something remarkable.
8. Make Sure You and Your Partner Agree on Rules and Consequences
With a view to follow point four and make sure you’re consistent with consequences and rewards, it’s vital that you, your partner and other older family members, such as siblings, are aware of the house rules and the consequences for certain behaviours. Be open and honest about how you’d like things handled, and make sure everyone agrees.
If a child is told one thing by one family member and something else by another, it could undermine your authority and could result in further behavioural issues, as well as confusing the child and making things unclear for them. That’s why it’s important that everyone is on the same page, preferably before the child moves into your home.
9. Demonstrate Model Behaviour to Maintain Positive Influence
Young children are hugely influenced by their surroundings and people they share their lives with, so a positive outlook and good home-life habits can quickly rub off on them. How you act at home can have a big impact in terms of their attitude, behaviours and habits, so try to demonstrate and model positive behaviours in everything you do as this will be observed and hopefully modelled back by the child.