Thursday, 13 February 2014

Teach them a lesson

Whilst having a reflective 5 minutes with a cuppa (everyone else is still asleep) I got to thinking about all the things we teach our children (birth and foster) just by our actions and behaviours. 'Do as I say, not as I do' is a bit of a cop out really. Surely we should model the behaviour, lifestyle and attitude we want our children to adopt too. Giving instruction to children is of course important, living out those instructions for children to see and experience is much more powerful. For our birth children, this will be something they have experienced from the beginning. With fostered children, they will probably have been learning a totally different lesson before they came into our care - if someone hits you, hit them back twice as hard; if you don't like it, leave it; lie for an easy life; steal for an easy life; take drugs/drink for an easy life etc etc are all things we have heard. 

Lessons in forgiveness, reconciliation, empathy, working hard, staying calm, loving, caring ..... the list goes on and on, may be alien to a foster child. The best way to help them learn is to live them out in front of them. Show them that the lessons work, that they make life better and strengthen relationships. 

The 'care cycle' is a hard one to break, unfortunately. Children in care are at far higher risk of having their children taken into care. Maybe this is because their parents, by their actions, have not taught them how to be good (or even good enough) parents. So us foster carers need to be the ones to show them how. Whether it's how we parent and care for them, or how we are parenting other children in our household.  

Our foster child finds it very difficult when our little one has a tantrum, but finds it even harder when I don't 'give in' to it. This approach is not something they have ever experienced, they think to show love means to give a child everything they want. Hopefully by me teaching my little one that tantrums don't work, but still being a loving and caring parent, will teach my foster child a new lesson which will help them when they become a parent. 

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