Three common problems in foster children: Hygiene, eating problems and fear of darkness


Children who have been abused and neglected often have similar problems when coming out of home care (often called care).

Here are three problems that a foster parent may encounter, and some possible solutions.

1. Hygiene: The child may not know how to bathe and brush his teeth. If they are small, you can help them. If they are older, I have a suggestion that worked for me. After giving birth to an older child for months, I couldn’t understand why she didn’t look clean even though she was in the bathroom for a long time. One day I had an idea of ​​getting a plastic baby doll and she and I bathed it. She really didn’t know how to give the baby a bath. Such things that we take for granted such as creating a washcloth, going head to toe and drying out were never taught. She did so much better after learning to bathe the baby doll. In addition, I taught her how to give a baby a bath, something she will probably have to do one day.

2. Issues with eating, especially hoarding and binge eating. Remember, foster children often come from homes where food was not readily available, so hoarding and chattering can occur. You might find food hidden in their rooms, maybe even food that makes no sense, such as 10 moldy bologna sandwiches under a mattress or food that you threw in the trash.

Another issue is that foster children may not have ever learned the trust band cycle in the infant. The trust bonding cycle is the basic marker of learning to trust. The baby gets hungry and it cries. The educator comes to pick it up and feed it. Needs are met. Babies in violent and neglected homes go hungry. They cry. But maybe nobody’s coming. Or someone comes and abuses them or props a bottle and leaves. This lack of basic confidence leads to eating disorders and personality disorders.

It is imperative that you make food available to foster children 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, but it is ok. to set boundaries. You don’t want a child to become overweight, nor do you want to spend $ 500 a week on groceries. There are different thoughts on this. Some people say, let them eat whatever they want, but set some limits, such as All food should be eaten at the dining table. Some people say make a drawer or cupboard for them. Some people say only scheduled meals and snacks.

After trial and error, this is what worked for me and what I suggest: Plan three meals and two healthy snacks. Tell the child that they are expected to eat at the table. If they don’t like what you have, say they always have (for example) a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or cheese and biscuits. Keep it simple. You do not need to prepare more meals. In addition to the menu offered, give the child a basket of his or her own in the kitchen and place snacks that are healthy, and they like, but not necessarily, things that the child will feel the need to pinch.

We once had a kid who would eat all the time and stock up on food. We started with a big basket of goodies in the fridge and on the counter. She would eat it all and come back for more. She came to us very thin, but gained 25 pounds in the first month! Eventually we learned that if we put egg sauce and Cheerios in the basket, she would eat it if she was really hungry, but wouldn’t if she wasn’t hungry. It was the knowledge that it was always there and no one else would eat it that began to make her trust that food would always be available. Only then did she stop bingeing.

Third Afraid of the dark: The night in a violent or neglected home can be terrorizing children. When they come to your home, arrange for a night light or let them sleep with the lights on. Keep the light on in the bedroom. Let them sleep with their clothes on if they want to. Girls may want to sleep with a bra. They may want extra covers or even sleep with their coat on. Let them. Put a CD player in the foster child’s room, and depending on their age (up to 12 or so), take on soothing music and play the same C.D. every night. They will eventually associate the music with safety and sleep. It will take a long time to trust that the night time is safe in your home.

Trust is learned, so be trustworthy.