How to Deal with Grief in Foster Children: 10 Steps - MakeSureHow
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It's common for children in foster care to isolate themselves from the foster family.

Imagine being taken away from your family and friends with only a few of your possessions and being told you would live with complete strangers. As hard as it is to fathom, this is what many foster children experience when they are removed from their parents. Foster children can experience the loss of their family, school, pets, friends, favorite toys and activities. Foster parents must try to help them deal with their losses and the uncertainty of their future. Helping foster children grieve requires a variety of strategies to help them work through their complicated feelings.


  1. 1
    Give foster children choices about activities they to participate in. Provide them with opportunities to join sports teams, clubs and activities to keep them active. Fun activities boost their mood and help them develop a new routine.
  2. 2
    Establish healthful eating, sleeping and exercise habits. Many children in foster care lack basic hygiene skills and knowledge. Teaching self-care equips them with a better opportunity to manage their grief.
  3. 3
    Engage foster children in social activities to help develop friendships and decrease their sense of isolation. When appropriate, help them maintain relationships with former friends and extended family members. If they have moved too far away to see people in-person, help them write letters, send emails and talk on the phone to maintain contact.
  4. 4
    Teach foster children coping strategies to express their feelings such as drawing or writing. When children don't want to talk, various forms of art provide an emotional outlet.
  5. 5
    Encourage foster children to talk openly about their feelings and experiences. However, don't ask too many questions or try to force them to tell their story if they don't want to.
  6. 6
    Establish professional counseling for foster children who are struggling to adjust to foster care. If a foster child seems depressed, has serious behavioral issues or struggles to make new friends, refer them for an evaluation by a professional therapist.
  7. 7
    Enroll children in support groups for children in foster care. Meeting other children with similar experiences can help them work through their complicated grief issues.Develop a Sense of Identity.
  8. 8
    Create a life book with foster children. These books often combine information about their likes an dislikes, culture and beliefs with information about their birth family.
  9. 9
    Preserve treasured memories in a meaningful way. Many children in foster care have gifts or letters from their birth family or special items they want to store. Help create a special memory box, blanket or scrapbook to preserve their sentimentals and store them safely in a place that is easily accessible to a foster child.
  10. 10
    Identify similarities and differences between the birth family, the foster family and the child. Foster children often feel a sense of loyalty to their birth family and as they go through the grieving process they learn to become independent from their birth family and develop their own set of beliefs, attitudes and values.


  • Allow foster children time to adjust to new routines, rules and expectations before trying to help them deal with their grief.Gain support from other foster parents and professionals through support groups and workshops.


  • If a foster child threatens suicide or self-injury, don't handle the situation yourself. Enlist the aid of a mental health worker.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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