Many, if not most, foster care systems forbid foster parents from using any kind of corporal punishment or any other kind of punishment (such as yelling) that is aimed at demeaning a child.
Your foster child may have emotional or physical scars from punishments that she had received at her last home. This can make discipline issues hard to navigate for some parents. What can a parent do? Luckily, there is help out there to support parents in caring for their foster children.
First and foremost, you need to work on yourself to be calm. A frazzled parent is not able to think clearly to respond to her child. An angry or upset parent cannot calm an angry or upset child. If necessary, call a timeout for everyone before deciding on an appropriate response. With time, you’ll be able to keep your cool easier.
Before problematic behavior even becomes an issue, give the child a sense of control. For example, at bedtime, does he want to brush his teeth or change into his PJs first? Another example: Let her know she can play games after she has finished her homework. This gives children choice and helps them feel like they have some control over their environment and their lives.
Two other good ways to nip issues in the bud:
- Hold regular family meetings so that everyone has a voice in how the household is run.
- Keep a chart of the child’s behavior. This will help you identify triggers that you can avoid in the future.
Possible consequences for negative behavior can be:
- Taking away privileges
- Offer rewards for good behavior
Always remember that you have a team backing you up. Your child may have a therapist or a social worker assigned to her. If you have any questions or concerns, feel free to bring it up with these professionals.
Being a foster parent is an important and rewarding job. Disciplining a child is a loving and important part of parenting, but it can be challenging — and made even more so when the child in question is a foster child. WIth your support team and a calm, collected head on your shoulders, you can help your child through this difficult chapter in his life.
By Bethanie Ryan