Resilience is the ability to bounce back from difficulties; whether that’s getting sick, experiencing grief, losing friends, failing tests, etc. For foster children, this includes bigger changes, such as adjusting to new foster homes, schools, seeing family at different cadences, and more. During a COVID world, this means changing to virtual school, adjusting to not being in activities, seeing friends, etc. Parents and children alike, in and out of foster care, are being tested on their resilience during these trying times. So, how can you help build resilience for the children in your care?
The best way is to show them how you handle it; positive modeling of your emotions provides an example for children on how they can help! When you’re facing a stressful situation or unexpected change, talk it out. Label your emotions and show them how you know how you feel (‘I am feeling anxious – my heart is beating so fast and I feel like I need to jump around!’). Then, show them how you’re handling it (‘Since I feel anxious, I think I’m going to go for a little walk, and take some deep breathes. In for five and out for five, until I feel better’). This also allows them to see when they may need to rely on others instead of just their own coping skills (‘I’m feeling too stressed to handle this by myself, maybe we can do some coloring together to take my mind off things?’).
Build confidence in your child, so that they know that they are strong and can handle changes. You can do this by promoting healthy risk taking, so they know that sometimes pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, and experiencing some stress, leads to positive changes. If a child has pride participating in a sport, the arts, their academics, etc., they feel connected to a network and know that there are things in life that can bring them joy. They also have the opportunity to build strong relationships so that children know that, even in the face of challenges, they have a support network to fall back on, with you, but also with their community.
Use learning opportunities when a child makes mistakes, so they learn how to work through things on their own. When a child makes a mistake, walk them through the experience and what they were able to learn about it. Ask them questions about their experience so they have an opportunity to consider the situation, instead of lecturing or explaining what happened. They have an opportunity to build strategies for future situations, and you can then help them re-frame the situation positively, so that your children can become optimistic thinkers in the face of challenges.
Wondering if your child is having trouble with transitions or facing challenges, and what strategies you can think of to help with them? Remember you can always reach out to your case manager for tips as well!