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.
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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