4 Tips to Parent Foster Children with Trauma History

Parenting a foster child with trauma history can be challenging.

Trauma profoundly influences brain development, impacting children’s behaviors, ability to regulate emotions, and even their capacity to form healthy relationships.

And for many, it’s coupled with attachment issues, rooted in everything from abuse and neglect early on in life to repeated moves due to broken-down placements.

Here are some signs that may indicate a child is struggling with attachment.

Parenting Children with Trauma History Signs of Attachment Disorders - 4 Tips to Parent Foster Children with Trauma History

Parenting children with attachment issues rooted in a history of trauma can be a formidable task. To put it simply—it’s not easy to be a foster parent.

But the work is so critical. The bonds foster parents build with kids help them heal and serve as the foundation for healthy connections in adulthood.

That said, we want to guide you on the path to parenting kids with trauma history. So, here are a few tips to help build trust and influence children’s behavior.

Tips on Parenting Kids with a History of Trauma

4 Tips to Parent Foster Children with Trauma History Meet Needs 1 - 4 Tips to Parent Foster Children with Trauma History

Meet Needs

Your #1 goal is to find out your foster child’s needs and meet them. And the best way to find out is to ask. When doing so, be direct, using exact language. For example, “What’s going on?” “What are your needs?” “How can I support you?”

4 Tips to Parent Foster Children with Trauma History Say Yes - 4 Tips to Parent Foster Children with Trauma History

Say “Yes”

Kids in foster care have little power over their lives. So, often that manifests in a desire for control.

You can go miles when it comes to building trust with children by focusing on dishing out “yes” more than “no.” The optimal ratio is 7:1, saying “yes” 7 times for every “no.”

4 Tips to Parent Foster Children with Trauma History Make Eye Contact - 4 Tips to Parent Foster Children with Trauma History

Make Eye Contact

Our eyes speak louder than words.

Nonverbal cues are critical components of communication, especially for kids with trauma history. As often as possible, get on your foster child’s eye level when speaking to them.

4 Tips to Parent Foster Children with Trauma History Mirror Behavior - 4 Tips to Parent Foster Children with Trauma History

Mirror Behavior

Be a mirror. Secure attachment is characterized by a healthy rhythm between children and their caregiver’s behavior. For instance, if a baby coos, their mother will coo back, or when a toddler laughs, their father laughs too.

Congruent behaviors build trust and attachment.

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