How to Deal with a Foster Child's Emotions: 9 Steps - MakeSureHow
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A foster child's emotions can confuse foster parents at times.

Parenting might be the hardest job in the world, but foster parenting can ratchet up parenting to a new level of hard. The ups and downs of a foster child's emotions can resemble a roller coaster because many foster children have experienced extreme trauma that interferes with their ability to manage their feelings in appropriate ways. It takes a skilled foster parent to help a child deal with the emotional turmoil that accompanies the uncertainties of being in foster care.


  1. 1
    Establish a caretaker relationship with the foster child. It's important to show that you will care for a child's physical and emotional needs without trying to replace his parents.
  2. 2
    Respect mixed feelings that a foster child might experience about his birth parents. Often children in foster care feel a sense of loyalty toward their birth family even when their birth family has hurt them.
  3. 3
    Participate in activities with a foster child to enrich the relationship. Allow any bonding or attachment to occur naturally while recognizing the limits to a foster parent and child relationship. When a foster child's living condition remains uncertain, many children in foster care aren't able to form a bond with foster parents.
  4. 4
    Offer to listen to a foster child who wants to talk about his feelings. Empathize with the child and provide a caring, nurturing place for the child to discuss feelings of anger, fear, frustration, guilt or any other emotions that might arise.
  5. 5
    Enlist the help of professional support for the child. A therapist or support group for children in foster care might be able to provide additional assistance.
  6. 6
    Seek professional support for yourself. Foster parents often benefit from therapy or a support group to assist them in dealing with their own emotions as they care for a foster child.
  7. 7
    Teach kids feeling words. Sometimes children lack the ability to put their feelings into words and might require assistance with identifying their feelings. Younger children might benefit from pictures of simple faces showing various emotions while older kids might benefit from having a list of feeling words.
  8. 8
    Teach healthful coping skills to deal with feelings. Coping strategies such as drawing, writing, listening to music or going for a walk can help kids learn how to manage uncomfortable emotions.
  9. 9
    Set limits and provide consequences for unhealthful behaviors when necessary. For example, if a child breaks something out of anger provide a time-out and teach the child more appropriate strategies to deal with his feelings.


  • Work with all members of a foster child's support team. The guardian, therapist and other team members can assist foster parents in helping foster kids manage their emotions.Allow children in foster care time to adjust to your home before trying to help them manage their emotions.


  • If a foster child makes threats of self-injury or suicide, do not try to handle it yourself. Contact a mental health worker immediately.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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