Hey Cathy, I am a ‘birth child’ of a fostering household. After reading your book ‘Damaged’ we had a very similar girl who had severe problems. She only stayed with us for two weeks because she would scream and punch, and trash her room in the middle of the night without knowing she was doing it. During this time the behaviour she displayed to me and my mum angered me. I spent more time out of the house, trying to avoid being with her, but that left my mother, a single carer with a bigger problem. I would like some advice on how, in future, I can deal with challenging children because I would like to make the children staying with us feel more welcome. At the moment I am always on my guard after the previous incidents. Thanks,
Lilli, 16, Brighton
CG: Dear Lilli, Thank you for writing. I was sorry to learn that you had such a challenging placement so early on. You have read Damaged so you will know you are not alone in what you have experienced, and you will also have some idea why some children behave as they do. It is very unfortunate that you and your mother were placed in this position and I hope it hasn’t put you off fostering, although I can understand why you will wary in the future. A child like Jodie needs lots of patience, understanding, and firm boundaries. It is a full time job and not one every foster carer would want to undertake. It is quite reasonable for your mother to have terminated the placement – as a new carer it was inadvisable for this child to be placed with her. I hope the next child you look after will renew your faith in fostering which must have been severely undermined by this experience. You can do a lot to support your mother by reinforcing what she says to the child, playing with the child sometimes to give your mother time out, listen to what the child tells you – often the foster child will confide and disclose to a foster sibling before the main carer, and keep the pathway of communication open between you and your mum. Work together. I think you probably realise that keeping out of the way, didn’t really help – any of you, although it was understandable. There are lots of children who come into foster care who just need love and attention, and I know you will do just fine. I hope this is of some help. Cathy x