After The Honeymoon

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Well, you've made it through the first two weeks. Your foster child has been getting bolder, acting out more and defying you. Now what? Let's remember that the child hasn't had real parents to set limits for him. He likes the attention you give him when he does something wrong - the timeout, the talk afterward. Chances are his biological parents never bothered with such things. Since you can't stop disciplining him, here are a few suggestions.

Don't downplay the bad behavior, of course, you want him to understand that it's wrong. Give him the attention he craves for when he's doing good things, even going so far as to OVERREACT to good behavior. It may take a while, but be consistent, it will work.

Try not to give in to him, even if you feel sorry for him. This will only show him that he can manipulate you. You will see temper tantrums, probably because tantrums worked with the parents. Again, be consistent. Only reward him when he is good. If tantrums include head-banging and other self-destructiveness, do your best to protect the child without giving attention. For instance, place a pillow under his head so he won't get hurt. Remind him that he only gets good things when he is good and follows the rules. Then tell him you'll be in the kitchen, or wherever, when he is done and wants to talk. Then simply walk away. Let him scream and cry. It's better to let him get it out.

When he is done, sit him down, tell him how sad it makes you when he cries and tries to hurt himself. Tell him that is not how things are done in your house. Let him know you love him and then give him a timeout or send him to his room as punishment for the tantrum. He will see that the 'fits of anger' does not work on you - he doesn't get what he wanted instead he gets a timeout. After a week or two, he should calm down and you'll see less acting out.

Being a foster parent is a tough job. You are trying to keep your patience, remembering why he acts that way, keeping pity out of it, and making your home stay in one piece! That's enough to make anyone want to quit. Just keep in mind that nothing lasts forever, even bad behavior.

Children learn what they are taught; your job is to undo what the child has already learned, and teach them the right way.

Credits: Wendi M. Sturgeon

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