Managing a child’s behavior is one of the most difficult challenges you may face as a foster carer. Coming from a troubled home, many foster children may exhibit disruptive behaviors when placed with a new family, which can be difficult to manage.
However, with the right strategies, a positive attitude, and ongoing support from your Supervising Social Worker, you should be able to manage, and eventually develop, the behavioral habits of the children in your care, putting them on the path to developing important life skills and a positive and fulfilling future for themselves.
This guide provides 9 behavioral management strategies that you can use at home to provide consistent, fair, and effective parenting.
1. Follow the behavior management ABCs
To better understand where misbehavior arises, psychologists developed the ABC Behavior Chart, which takes into account behavioral triggers, actions to combat misbehaviour, and the consequences of such behaviour. The ABC in this model stands for:
- Antecedents are the factors that influence a child’s behaviour and are also known as triggers. An antecedent in the case of a foster child could be a neglectful upbringing or bullying, which has directly led to bad behaviour. Understanding a child’s family history will help you recognise their triggers and devise a strategy to deal with them.
- Behaviours – The B represents the behaviours you want to encourage or discourage, such as cursing or hitting. There are numerous strategies for encouraging specific behavioural changes, which we will discuss further below.
- Consequences – The positive or negative consequences of a child’s behaviour that immediately follow an outburst. Both you and the child must be clear about the consequences of misbehaviour, and you must act quickly to ensure consistency.
Parents who are aware that their child has behavioural issues can benefit from the ABC model. We recommend sitting down and using the labels above to map out each behaviour the child exhibits.
When you understand what causes your child’s behaviour and have a system in place to deal with the consequences, you have a powerful strategy that will aid in positive behavioural change. Also, you can consult Behaviour Therapist Coomera for better opinion.
2. Create a rewards chart
As previously mentioned, a rewards chart is one such strategy that, when used correctly, can promote genuine behavioural change. This rewards children for good behaviour or completing specific tasks, with the goal of reinforcing positive behaviour and achieving long-term change.
Rewards charts are typically in the form of a poster, but smartphone apps do the same thing. You agree with the child and set goals for them to achieve, and they receive points or stickers that add up to a reward.
This can be an excellent method for dealing with minor misbehaviour, but it may not be as effective in dealing with deep-seated aggression or serious disruptive behaviour.
3. Exhibit complete objectivity
It can be extremely difficult to remain calm, neutral, and level-headed in the midst of an argument or after a child’s disruptive behaviour. However, being objective can help to calm a situation and show the child that you have their best interests in mind and understand why they are acting this way.
It is difficult to take an objective stance on misbehaviour, but an unbiased and calm approach can help remove any attention-grabbing elements from their behaviour. Furthermore, it may assist you in determining what triggered the behaviour so that you can devise an effective way to deal with it in the future.
4. Establish a consistent approach to punishment and reward
You must be consistent whether you are rewarding a child for good behaviour or attempting to manage inappropriate behaviour. It is especially important to ensure that all children in your care are treated equally and without favouritism.
A consistent approach to a child’s behaviour is dependent on your ability to implement consequences and rewards. If you warn the child about the consequences, you must follow through on them, and the same is true for rewarding good behaviour. This can help you maintain authority and fairness within your foster family and manage their behaviour more effectively in the future.
5. Make a family rule book
Before taking in a child, make a family rules board outlining exactly what is expected of the child and what they can expect from you in return. Also, ask your looked after child to contribute ideas to the family rules board so that they feel included in the process. Caregivers may assume that a child will understand what is expected of them, but their prior experiences may indicate that they require guidance on what is acceptable and what is not in your home.
6. Ignoring selectively
Children may act in a certain way to gain attention for a variety of reasons, and when you react, you diminish your authority and suggest to them that they have some control. Minor attention-seeking behaviour can be ignored simply by going about another task as usual or communicating with the child about something else.
The trick here is to ignore the behaviour and pretend it never happened. Of course, this requires a great deal of self-control, but it can be an effective way of preventing minor disruptive behaviour. However, this is only recommended for minor misbehaviour; more serious disruption or aggression should be dealt with using different strategies.
7. Respond positively to positive behaviour and offer praise
Praise and positivity can be one of the most powerful tools for reinforcing good behaviour at home, so it is important to listen to your child and provide positive feedback when appropriate. Foster children may lack confidence and a sense of self-worth at times, so praise and positivity can work wonders in changing their attitude and behaviours.
Whether it’s through a rewards chart or a verbal “well done, that was fantastic,” your words can say more than you realise, and can really help the child feel like what they’ve done is positive, important, and remarkable.
8. Work with your partner to establish ground rules and consequences
To ensure consistency with consequences and rewards, it’s critical that you, your partner, and other older family members, such as siblings, are aware of the house rules and the consequences for certain behaviours. Be open and honest about how you want things handled, and make sure everyone is on the same page.
If a child is told one thing by one family member and another by another, it may undermine your authority and result in additional behavioural issues, as well as confusing and confusing the child. That is why it is critical that everyone is on the same page, preferably before the child moves in.
9. Be a role model in order to maintain positive influence
Young children are heavily influenced by their surroundings and the people they interact with, so having a positive attitude and good home-life habits can quickly rub off on them. How you act at home can have a big impact on their attitude, behaviours, and habits, so try to demonstrate and model positive behaviours in everything you do because the child will notice and hopefully model back. Check out for best Psychologist Coomera