Foster parent KELLY EDEN discusses focusing on a child’s strengths rather than their difficulties to help build self esteem, and emotion coaching to enable them to better manage their feelings.
When I became a foster mum a number of years ago, I quickly saw that parenting a child with a neglect or abuse background needed a planned approach. When fostering, there are a number of difficulties that draw your attention – your child’s health, dental care, social skills, schooling and their development are all areas that have possibly been impacted. Many of these areas couldn’t be ignored, but I was also faced with a choice. Do I make these difficult areas my main focus as a parent, spending time and money on tutoring and counselling, or do I focus instead on building my foster daughter’s strengths?
I realised that the decisions I made about her after-school activities were going to have a big impact on her. I noticed that she wasn’t doing so well in the classroom and, being a teacher, my first instinct was to sign her up for tutoring but I worried about the effect that would have on her self-esteem.
Whether you are parenting your own or other people’s children, it is sometimes easier to spot their problems rather than identify their strengths. Researcher Peter Benson in book and TEDx talks discusses finding your child’s spark: the thing that gives your child energy, joy, hope, direction and purpose. Strength-building and finding what sparks your child – rather than trying to fix them – is better for you and your child.
My foster daughter is a talented sportsperson, so instead of tutoring, I encouraged her
to join the local swim club.
Secondly, emotion coaching is crucial for fostering. Children who have experienced neglect, abuse, or dysfunction of some kind often have limited emotional skills. As a foster parent, learning to be an emotion coach helps our children to name, understand and, eventually, manage some of their strong feelings better.
Learn more about emotion coaching through the Gottman Institute.
Become a Foster Carer
“Being a foster carer is the hardest job you will do but it is also one of the most rewarding,” says a Key Assets foster carer.
Often, children who come in to care have experienced trauma and abuse. As a result the way they see and make sense of the world is different and can bring challenges that will show in their behaviour. Because fostering can be a tough road Key Assets offer support to foster carers, to get the best outcomes for children in care.
The support Key Assets offers includes:
- A generous fostering allowance
- A dedicated social worker
- Ongoing training and development, including trauma informed training helping carers understand the impact of abuse on the brain and development
- Support group with other Key Assets carers
- Therapeutic support from a Key Assets therapist
- Youth work for the child in your care
Children and young people come into foster care for many reasons. If you have been thinking about becoming a foster carer and you can provide a safe and stable home to children and young people aged 8-18 contact Key Assets to find out more.