As a foster parent, you know that your role is both rewarding and challenging. You are asked to be a rock and a refuge for children who may have experienced traumas that most of us can only imagine. In this post, we will be exploring the reasons why the book "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk is an essential resource for foster parents. We believe that reading this book will change how you approach fostering, and deepen your understanding of the children in your care.
1. Understanding Trauma and Its Effects
"The Body Keeps the Score" is a vital resource for foster parents because it provides a comprehensive look at how trauma affects children — both psychologically and physiologically. The book goes beyond the typical, generic advice and delves into the deep-rooted effects of adverse experiences on a child's developing brain. Readers gain insight into how certain traumas can impact a child’s behavior, emotions, and even their physical health. Understanding these connections can help foster parents develop empathy, patience, and practical strategies to support their foster child’s healing.
2. The Importance of Empathy and Connection
Bessel van der Kolk emphasizes the power of human connections in healing trauma. As foster parents, you are the primary source of connection and support for your foster child. "The Body Keeps the Score" helps you develop the empathy and understanding needed to truly be present for your child, even when they are acting out or withdrawing because of their past traumatic experiences. This book highlights the value of secure attachments in helping children recover from trauma, offering you invaluable insights into how your love and dedication can reshape a child's life.
3. Developing Resilience in Your Foster Child
One of the key lessons from "The Body Keeps the Score" is the importance of fostering resilience in children who have experienced trauma. The book provides scientific evidence and practical approaches for helping children develop the mental and emotional tools they need to overcome adversity. By understanding the specific methods that promote resilience, foster parents are better equipped to guide their foster children on a journey of healing, self-discovery, and growth.
4. Navigating Challenges in the Foster Care System
The foster care system can be a complex and frustrating experience for foster parents. "The Body Keeps the Score" offers insights into the structural problems within the system, validating the struggles many foster parents face. Armed with this knowledge, foster parents can better advocate for their foster child's needs and recognize the barriers that may be hindering their progress. This understanding can also help foster parents identify areas where they can create positive change, both within their own family and on a broader scale.
5. A Source of Hope and Empowerment
"The Body Keeps the Score" is not just a book about trauma; it is also a book about hope. It shows foster parents that change is possible, and that healing can occur even in the most difficult circumstances. By providing a wealth of knowledge, research, and practical strategies, the book empowers and supports foster parents in their mission to provide a loving and stable environment that fosters children's healing and development.
Whether you are a seasoned foster parent or new to the journey, "The Body Keeps the Score" by Bessel van der Kolk is an indispensable resource for understanding and supporting the children in your care. The book provides essential knowledge about the effects of trauma on children, fosters empathy and connection, and equips foster parents with the tools to promote resilience and healing. Furthermore, it validates the challenges faced by foster parents and offers hope for positive change within the foster care system. By reading and incorporating the insights from "The Body Keeps the Score", you will be better prepared to make a real, lasting impact on the lives of the children you welcome into your home.
This Ted Talk by a former foster youth, Athena Garcia-Gunn is incredibly insightful and informative. The video provides an intimate look into the life of a foster youth, as well as the struggles they face. Additionally, the speaker offers helpful tips on how to be a better advocate and mentor for foster youth.
Garcia-Gunn shares that when she was 7 her mother died during childbirth. The death contributed to her father's alcohol and drug addiction, leaving Athena and her siblings without proper care for much of their childhood. She was sexually abused by neighbors, and despite reports to authorities, the abuse went on for years. While she wasn't grateful for the foster care system, she recognizes it was an improvement from her biological home life. Unfortunately, the trauma left her hypervigilant and in a constant fight or flight mode. She says, "in order to cope with my life before care, I had to dissociate completely. I was very technical and strategic about everything because I was in survival mode." She shares that she was ready to run at all times and pushed people away in order to not feel vulnerable. I feel like this so adequately describes so many of our kids.
This video is worth the watch for anyone interested in supporting foster youth.
For foster parents, creating a home that is trauma-informed is essential to helping children heal and grow. Trauma-informed care means being aware of the potential impact of trauma on a child’s development and actively working to build trust, safety, and stability. As a foster parent, understanding how to create an environment that fosters healing can help your family thrive.
What Makes a Home Trauma-Informed?
A home that is trauma-informed prioritizes physical and emotional safety. This means creating deescalation strategies when emotions are running high, establishing boundaries that are consistently enforced, avoiding triggers, and encouraging self-care practices like relaxation techniques or mindful activities like yoga. It also involves setting up routines so children know what to expect each day. Establishing consistent rules and expectations helps kids feel secure in their new environment because it gives them something familiar to cling on to during times of great change.
It's important for foster families to understand the impact of traumatic experiences on kids' behavior. Trauma can manifest itself in many ways including aggression, hyperactivity, or withdrawal from social situations. Learning how to recognize signs of distress will help you be better prepared to respond appropriately in difficult situations.
Creating a Safe Space in Your Home
When creating a safe space in your home, work on minimizing external triggers that may set off negative emotions in your foster child. This includes avoiding overly stimulating environments like crowded malls or loud restaurants as often as possible, providing plenty of quiet places like bedrooms or isolated alcoves within the house where your foster child can retreat for comfort and privacy if feeling overwhelmed. Additionally, make sure all family members are aware of boundaries—both physical (such as no hitting) and emotional (such as no teasing). When everyone understands these boundaries, it’s easier for your foster child to feel safe within your home.
Building Trust with Your Foster Child
Trust plays an important role in developing relationships with your foster child. Focus on building trust through small gestures such as reading stories together at night, having regular meals as a family, or playing games together that promote bonding and connection. Get creative with activities like nature hikes or art projects! When kids feel safe enough to express themselves openly and honestly - without fear of judgement - they learn that they can depend on you as their caregiver even during the most challenging moments.
Creating a trauma-informed home takes time but it’s worth the effort; by providing safety, consistency, structure and love you’re giving your foster child the tools they need to heal after experiencing trauma and disruption in their lives. Building trusting relationships between yourself and your foster child will take time but it will also bring tremendous rewards; by creating a supportive environment where everyone feels respected while cultivating healthy ways of expressing emotions you’ll provide your family with the foundation necessary for growth no matter how long they stay with you!
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As a former foster youth, you may have been thrust into the world of adulthood without being adequately prepared for the financial challenges that come with it. While there are many aspects to consider when planning your own budget, the good news is that you can create an effective budget with little knowledge. In this blog post, we’ll be discussing how to create a basic personal budget so that you can get on track financially and move forward in life.
Start Tracking Your Income and Expenses
Knowing where your money is coming from and where it is going each month is essential for creating any type of budget. To do this, start by listing out all of your income sources (such as wages from work or government benefits). Then create a list of all your expenses (rent/mortgage payments, food costs, transportation costs etc.). Make sure to include both fixed (those that stay the same every month) and variable expenses (those that change every month) like utilities and entertainment costs respectively. Once you have determined how much money is coming in and going out each month you can begin setting up your budget accordingly.
Steps to Successful Budgeting
Creating a basic personal budget does take some discipline and dedication, but it is possible! With some careful planning and consistent tracking of income and expenses, former foster youth can set themselves up for success financially despite having limited resources available at their disposal! So don’t be discouraged—take those first steps today towards setting yourself up financially for life! You won’t regret it! Good luck!
As a foster parent, I know firsthand how difficult and emotionally taxing it can be to open your home to children in need. It's a rewarding experience, of course, but it can also be incredibly challenging. That's why I'm a strong advocate for therapy as a way of helping foster parents cope with the unique demands of this role. Here's why I think therapy is so important for those who have taken on the responsibility of caring for children in need.
As a foster parent, there are certain aspects of my job that can be emotionally draining if I don't take time out for self-care. In order to continue doing this work effectively and compassionately, I've found it important to practice self-awareness by consistently reflecting on my thoughts and feelings about my role as a foster parent in therapy sessions. My therapist has been invaluable in helping me understand the complex emotions I'm experiencing both as a result of being involved in the foster care system and through my interactions with the children in my care. Your therapist can help you gain insight into your individual triggers so you can better prepare yourself when handling difficult situations with your child, other family members and even challenging CPS workers, bio parents or other members of your child's village.
Creating Healthy Boundaries
It's especially important for foster parents to create healthy boundaries between themselves and their child while still providing unconditional love and support whenever possible. This type of boundary-setting is often difficult because you want to provide your child with every opportunity you can while also protecting yourself from any potential harm or distress caused by their behavior or experiences outside of your home. By engaging in regular therapy sessions, you'll be able to unpack what types of boundaries are appropriate for your specific situation so that you can set limits without creating unnecessary conflict or tension between yourself and the child(ren) in your care.
Teaching Coping Skills
For many foster children, trauma and attachment difficulties are an ongoing reality. It's not uncommon for these kids to have trouble forming attachments or controlling their emotions due to past experiences. Through my own therapy, I learn coping skills that I can teach my foster children that can help them regulate their emotions given their trauma. For instance, my therapist taught me to use this feeling wheel when I needed to dig deeper into my emotions; It's been so helpful that I've printed a copy out and hung it on our refrigerator, encouraging all families members to look at it when they need to evaluate their emotions.
While there will always be challenges associated with caring for children who have experienced trauma or neglect, it's important not to let those challenges overwhelm you or prevent you from providing the best possible care possible for these kids. That’s why therapy is such an essential part of being a successful foster parent—it helps us gain insight into our own experiences while developing healthy tools necessary for managing our emotions when faced with difficult situations involving our child. Ultimately, engaging in regular therapeutic sessions helps us become more aware and intentional about how we show up as caregivers each day so that we can provide stability and security within our homes no matter what happens outside them!
Get a free week of therapy here (affiliate link).
I'm a foster mom, bio mom, working mom, special needs mom, busy mom. I'm also married to my high school sweetheart, I'm a proud 23-year childhood cancer survivor, and I'm passionate about serving my community.
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