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What is the best therapy for traumatised children?

What is the best therapy for traumatised children?

Fostering children can be worrying for both parents and children but with the right support and help you will both be just fine. Sometimes we worry about fostering children who are traumatised and have been through some awful experiences. In this article we read about Stephanie Zielinski who fostered sisters that had been neglected and undernourished. To make the youngest feel safe and loved, Stephanie had her in a baby sling attached to her constantly. This helped her develop and feel comfortable. All foster children need is someone who can make them feel safe, loved and comfortable. For more information click here


Read here and find out from first-hand how you can help:


Foster Parents are the best therapy for traumatised children in the system


Dinner at the Zielinski home is the normal, frenzied scene you’d expect in a house with three kids under the age of four. But their mother, Stephanie Zielinski didn’t come to motherhood in the typical way. She’s a foster parent. Zielinski took in her first child in 2012, when she was 27 years old and in a PhD program. As a pediatric nurse practitioner, Zielinski is a skilled caregiver and most of the eight kids she’s taken in were medically fragile.


Zielinski’s four-year-old daughter Nya was severely undernourished when came to Zielinski. (She adopted her and her younger sister last summer.) Nya was also severely developmentally delayed. She wouldn’t smile or connect with any adult.


She was fourteen months old and fourteen pounds. And wearing about say six-month [-old] clothing,” Zielinski recalls.


Kids often go into foster care because of problems at home like addiction, domestic violence, physical abuse, or neglect. They usually carry trauma from these painful experiences. This can have lifelong consequences on both physical and mental health, and can make them challenging to parent. But, experts say, it’s loving foster parenting that can do the most to help them heal.


“We can give them mental health support, give them paediatric support, we can give them case work support,” she says. “It is the foster parent, or the kin parent, with that skill set who really helps these children to heal.”


Nya has grown into a healthy 4-year-old despite some challenges in her first year of life.


Nya was one of the lucky ones. Zielinski made sure Nya saw all the medical specialists she needed, including occupational therapy, speech therapy and breathing and vision specialists—over 80 hours of appointments in her first year and a half in foster care. Zielinski also tried to give her an intense experience of bonding, keeping her close, strapped to her body with a baby sling.


“When I was home, whether I was making dinner or doing laundry, I was wearing her. Or holding her or interacting with her,” she explains.


Szilagyi says trauma is one of the biggest threats to the long-term physical and mental health of kids in the system. And trauma most frequently shows up in a child’s behavior. Parents may not even realize that’s what they’re dealing with.


“Nobody presents [in the pediatrician’s office] saying my child is traumatized,” she says. “They come in with complaints of sleep issues, aggression…They come in with, ‘he’s inattentive, hyperactive, distractible.’”


Parenting children with trauma can take extra care and awareness. In Zielinski’s case, she’s learned to provide intense patience, consistency, and loving discipline. Those may sound like normal aspects of parenting, but “it’s kind of like normal on steroids,” Zielinski says. “That one-on-one attention that bonding, that consistency, safety, security is all these kids need. Doing that extra diligently is so important.”


Zielinski’s hard work has paid off. Nya’s grown into a healthy four-year-old. She’s testing in the normal range in almost areas of development like speech and motor skills.


“She’s really such a miracle child in so many ways,” Zielinski says. “She’s a great testament to showing that even kids that come from these difficult situations with the right services they really can do incredibly well.”


After finishing dinner, Nya flips through a picture album. Nya points to her nebulizer in one photo, that she used for a lung condition. In another she asks about a little boy, another child her mother fostered for a time, “Mommy, why does he have a band-aid there?” “Because that’s where his g-tube was, honey,” responds Zielinski, describing a feeding tube that delivered nutrition through the abdomen.


Zielinski adopted Nya and her sister this summer, and she just found out that she’ll be able to adopt the infant boy in her care by the end of this year.


It can be painful at times, caring for children only to see them go. “It’s not something you can prepare for,” she says. “It’s just something that you know you kind of except as a foster parent and you work through.”

Even after adoption, her children still need extra care. So Zielinksi plans to keep on doing what she does: “It’s loving them, making sure that they know they feel that. Making sure they feel safe. Making sure they know that their needs are going to be met.”


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During your lunch break, or the time you spend checking Facebook, another child will come into care. Right now, that child is thinking: 'Who cares?' More Videos
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