Mental Health: 6 Things Foster Children Wish You Knew
Raising a child in care has its difficulties and challenges but it can be one of the must humbling and rewarding experiences for foster parents. Foster children and adolescents experience some of the worst-case scenarios any human could experience. As a result, many children can have some form of mental or behavioural health challenges, making it difficult for families to bond.
Despite these challenges, it’s important for foster families to keep in mind the traumas a foster child has had to deal with that have led to these emotional issues. It is also important to be aware of some of the thoughts and feelings a foster child in this situation may have.
1. Don’t give up when you cannot handle my mental health/behavioural problem(s)
Sadly, some families are simply unprepared to deal with the many challenges that come with a fostered child. These children will most likely have trust issues, relationship challenges or emotional disturbances that will ultimately interfere with the entire family unit. When foster parents effectively ‘give up’ on their foster children, it can scar them forever.
2. I need you to help me, not another family
Many foster children fear being sent away, again. Being put in care is an experience no child wants to repeat as many feel they have been abandoned by their own family. Providing a safe and stable environment for a foster child can take time.
3. Sometimes I feel I have nothing to live for
Did you know that adoptive teenagers are four times more likely to attempt suicide, according to a study done by researchers in 2013. Reasons for this include, but are not limited to: attachment difficulties, adjustment challenges, substance abuse, inherited mental health problems, family conflict, not knowing where they cam from etc. We must be empathic to this reality.
4. It’s lonely to have mental health and behavioural problems and not know where they came from
Children who feel they lack an identity and have no information about the mental and emotional health of their biological families, often feel like they are “in the dark”. In a way, health information on the biological family is a valuable not only for professionals but for the foster child as well.
5. You think you are hurting, I am too
Children who are struggling with behavioural and mental health challenges are hurting a great deal. They may not show it but foster children have been typically traumatised, thrown away, overlooked and abandoned. They have witnessed domestic violence, rape and other awful situations, and often they may find acting out is the only way of dealing with this pain.
6. I just want to be a happy person
Despite the “acting out” behaviours that some children exhibit, the main goal of these children/adolescents is to be happy and in their words “be normal”.
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