How Routines Help Build Resilience in Your Foster Child

In the world of mental health, the word “resilience” is used to describe a person’s ability to recover from traumatic events, and for children in foster care, the list of traumatic events is long. Unfortunately, the mitigating circumstances of children coming into foster care is just the beginning of their trauma. While it might be tempting to think that being placed in a safe home is removing them from trauma, the truth is that being placed in foster care is yet another traumatic event.

While it might be tempting to think that being placed in a safe home is removing them from trauma, the truth is that being placed in foster care is yet another traumatic event. Everything is new, foreign, unknown, and ultimately scary.

While we cannot spare our foster children from all of the trauma of being in foster care, one of the best things foster parents can do is cultivate a home life aimed at helping build resilience in their foster children, and in this and the following two videos, I will be offering three things you can do every day, beginning on day one of a new placement, to do just that.

In this video, I am sharing about the vital role routines can play in helping children develop a sense of stability, security, and safety as they adjust to being in a new place (your home). Because of how chaotic and disruptive it is for children in foster care, they experience a sense of insecurity associated with instability. By instilling and maintaining routines, we offer our children the ability to predict what’s coming next—something that is often taken from them when they come into care.

In this video, I discuss daily, weekly, and seasonal routines and rituals that help kids feel a sense of order and predictability in an otherwise chaotic and unpredictable world. I hope you find it helpful!

Click here for some free downloadable PDFs of routines we use in our home!

Two Videos About Food and Foster Care

A few years ago, I shared a video about Food and Foster Care and since then, I’ve been asked by many of you to do another video along that theme. So today, I shared a new video that continues where that video left off!

In this video, I’m giving you an idea of how I handle feeding a new child in my home. Those first 24 hours are so vital for helping children feel safe and setting a positive primacy bias.

I hope the tips I share here are helpful!

Here are the main takeaways:

  • Start with cookies and milk. When a new child arrives, I try to have a plate of cookies fresh from the oven on the table. I keep break and bake cookie dough in my freezer so I can whip up a freshly baked batch on very short notice.
  • At the beginning of a new placement, it’s all about keeping things as familiar as possible. Stick with foods kids would be likely to have at school—it may not be their favorite, but it will at least be familiar!
  • Don’t hesitate to ask a child what they like! “What foods to you love? What tastes like home to you? What do you like to have for breakfast?” Then keep their requests on hand.
  • Offer limited choices. As I have shared in previous videos, children crave feeling empowered, and for a child new to foster care, they feel anything but. Choices can be a great way to give a child a sense of empowerment. However, too many choices can feel overwhelming! I recommend giving two or three choices at the most.
  • Let them have junk food, but limit it. If a child has been used to eating as many Doritos as he wants, let him have Doritps—just stick with the small, single portion bags and don’t make a lot of junk food readily available.
  • Walk the line between helping a child feel comfortable and, later on, helping cultivate healthy dietary habits. If you saw my ACEs video, you will recall that high instances of childhood trauma are linked with many long-term health issues—some of which correlate with diet (i.e. diabetes, obesity). Part of the long-term goal of foster parenting is to help prepare children to thrive in adulthood—and that includes learning healthy food habits.

Here is my first Food and Foster Care Video:

I hope you find these resources helpful!

I’d love to hear about your experiences with food and foster care. Please share in the comments below!

Photo Credits:

Featured image by Providence Doucet on Unsplash

Food and Foster Care: The First 24 Hours photo via Canva

Food and Foster Care photo via Canva

Foster Parent Survey: I’d Love Your Input!

I’m working on a new video regarding relationships between foster parents and case workers, and I would love your help. If you are a current or former foster parent and you would be willing to share some of your experiences with me, please click here to fill out my survey.

I commit to not sharing any identifying information about you, though I may quote you in the resource I’m creating.

Also, I have made it so that you can fill it out anonymously if you like. Otherwise, you can opt to share your email address with me in case I want to follow up with you in the future.

CLICK HERE TO FILL OUT THE SURVEY!

Thank you so much!