So on a message board, a few people were talking about how everything a foster child does, when they go into a new home, is wrong. They want the wrong things, say the wrong things, do the wrong things, think the wrong things, wear the wrong things, etc. This really hit home for me because I really do feel like I’m correcting kids all the time at first. And I know some of those things are just family preferences, not “the end of the world.”
- speech, grammar – “Will I have some more? instead of “May I”? being unintelligible to some degree or another
- manners – please, thank you, yes/no instead of yeah/uh-uh
- social skills (sharing, talking with others, etc)
- aggression – verbal (name calling, cursing, etc) and physical (hitting, biting, pinching)
- at the table – using utensils, sitting up straight, eating speed, eating real food
- hair and dress – unkempt, inappropriate sayings, etc
- LOUD, very LOUD, making noises CONSTANTLY, yelling, not even knowing HOW to whisper
- self-care – pottying, dressing, bathing, etc.
- bed – bedtime, sleeping through night, etc
- cultural differences to navigate (not necessarily change)
- defiance – blatant, hidden, passive, just hollering no over and over
Obviously I have young children. I can imagine there would be other issues with older kids. The amount of time on screens, inappropriate clothing, wanting to do things that kids shouldn’t at all (like drugs, be with an adult boyfriend, etc) or can’t in foster care, etc.
We have new children. Ace is 4½, Champ is almost 3, and The Baby is 6mo this week. These kids have fewer of these “wanna change them” things than most. I am not worrying about how loud Ace is, for example, as I figure that is my issue right now. And I kinda find Champ’s mouthiness cute (though I won’t let him know that!). I do have to address Ace’s social issues as we have a lot of kids. And we are gently working on both boys’ self-care skills.
Mostly, I want kids to know they are safe here. Sometimes that heads off certain issues but causes others temporarily.
Anyway, I think the main takeaway is that even if I would like many things to change, that it is important the CHILDREN don’t feel like I want to change everything about them. Can you imagine thinking that everything you say, do, think, want, wear, etc is wrong? Can you imagine feeling nothing is ever good enough? Some things will need to be addressed in time. Very few things need to be addressed the first week, be addressed in a punitive manner, etc. In time, you’ll find that some things don’t need to be addressed at all as that is just how it is or will work out itself. But regardless, it is probably wise to be mindful of how much you’re trying to change “overnight.”