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Old 03-29-2014, 06:09 PM   #1
Kinrice01
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Need advice on foster children's behavior

Hello!
We recently took in 2 siblings to foster who are ages 4 and 5. My bio kids in the home are ages 12, 10, 8, 4, and 11 mo.

Overall, things have been going well. But there a few behaviors that I would like advice on how to deal with. Both children, but mostly the 4 yr old boy, do not know how to play. They will wander around the house aimlessly, getting into trouble, either by fighting with the other kids or getting into things they have been told not to (drawers, Wii games, just overall messing)! They never know how to just go play, either alone or with eachother or with the other kids in the home. They will follow around, touching everything in sight, randomly pulling things off shelves, out of drawers, just making chaos. And when I try to redirect them, they act very strange ..almost like they disconnect but by acting bizarre. They will roll their eyes all crazy and make weird noises like blah blah blah, go limp body, etc.

They also do that strange behavior around any new people or new situations. Like, I took the boy to walmart with me, and as soon as we got in the checkout line where there was a cashier he started reaching out grabbing at things, wild eyes, rolling his head around, making strange noises....
I took the 5 yr old girl with me to a baby shower. She did great for the first half, then as we are approaching the end of the shower she started the weirdness, same types of things.
When their caseworker came over, the boy started repeatedly slamming his head over and over bouncing it against the couch in front of her.

We also deal alot with drama-queen type stuff with the girl (except WAAAAY over the top where she Will. not. stop.). Very extreme compared to my daughter who I already considered a total drama queen. And we deal with tantrums with the boy. When we put him in time out, he will throw the rug he sits on, throw anything within reach, let out a huge loud, scream, spit, and slap himself in the head repeatedly.

Also the girl wets herself alot throughout the day. Sometimes enough to make a puddle in front of the toilet, somtimes just to make her undies wet. I've been trying to give it time, but it is getting to be alot...considering making her wear pull-ups?

Anyone have experience with these types of things? These kids are developmentally typical, We do not know if they were originally drug exposed as infants, as this is their first time in care. However their mom is pregnant currently and I have been told the baby will be drug exposed. I'd like to have a good plan of action going before they call me and ask us to take the baby. Duedate is sometime this summer.

PS. My 4 year old is picking up and copying these behaviors.

Thank you for any advice.

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Old 03-29-2014, 07:47 PM   #2
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I don't know about the other behaviors but I would say that the wetting herself is stress/anxiety. I was raised in an abusive home (not extremely bad at that age but my mom has bipolar so I came out of the womb walking on eggshells) and around first/second grade had problems with wetting myself. I would hold it until I couldn't anymore and then let just a little out until at the very last minute I would ask to go. Rather than looking into my home life my teacher made fun of me in front of my class . The last time I dido it was in fourth grade when I had a teacher who intimidated me and I was scared to ask to go during a test. My brother who was abused on a worse scale had issues with refusing to go and got megacolon as a result and had to be hospitalized. It went away on its own for me, it might just be the stress of the whole situation.
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Old 03-29-2014, 09:03 PM   #3
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Re: Need advice on foster children's behavior

A lot of kids these days haven't been taught/nurtured into how to play, how to imagine, how to self direct, etc. They are used to being entertained or occupied by specific activities all the time. However, in this case it likely goes beyond that to having been ignored, neglected, abused. They likely don't have the "normal" play experiences of toddler and preschool years.

If their life has been about safety, risk and preservation than their brains are wired differently. Behaviors tell us about core beliefs about the world: whether it is safe, whether adults can be relied on, etc. It sounds as if they have developed these behaviors as coping mechanisms when feeling threatened. (Even if in our view their is no threat.)

Drama queen stuff can be an indication of high anxiety, i.e. the world is not safe so if something happens to me it will help to scream about it long and loud, etc. The nervous system over reacts to normal insults by triggering the fight or flight physical reaction which sometimes looks like freeze and scream. They may be developmentally typical but if they have been brought into foster care they have not had typical experiences. This really does change the brain, but it can be changed still more as they learn to experience the world as safe, adults as caring, etc. It can take a long time, a lot of effort, etc.

I know this doesn't help you address specific behaviors. But, maybe it will help you cope with them to be thinking about it in a bigger sense of what the behaviors are showing you as a window into how they perceive the world.
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Old 03-29-2014, 09:22 PM   #4
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Re: Need advice on foster children's behavior

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinrice01 View Post
Both children, but mostly the 4 yr old boy, do not know how to play. They will wander around the house aimlessly, getting into trouble, either by fighting with the other kids or getting into things they have been told not to (drawers, Wii games, just overall messing)! They never know how to just go play, either alone or with eachother or with the other kids in the home. They will follow around, touching everything in sight, randomly pulling things off shelves, out of drawers, just making chaos.
I also wanted to say that this sounds just like ds although he has improved recently. He just turned 3 and is developmentally delayed; his neurological system is not typically developing. He was behind in play skills, imagining, attending/focusing, etc (besides his motor delays and other challenges). Although he is catching up now, he was at least a year behind. My typical 20 month old is close to the same level he is with play skills. He has finally in the last few months gotten interested in some specific areas and been able to self direct in play in those areas. But, there is still a Lot of touching of everything, all the time, everywhere he goes. As you said, just messing. He can't follow any directive without "messing" with everything he comes across along the way. I think it is lack of impulse control. He was born to us and has not been neglected/abused. But, his brain is just wired differently as evidenced by so many of his struggles. But, I can tell it gets better as he catches up to higher developmental stages. The wandering and making chaos is normal for a 12-18 month old. That's what 1 year olds do! They learn to walk and start emptying every cupboard and container they can reach. So I would guess that your foster kids could just be delayed in the area of play skills and will catch up with having the normal experiences/opportunities to develop them. Also, in their case, when your brain has been wired to be on the alert all the time for safety risks, it's hard to relax enough to play which requires focusing attention on what you are playing instead of attending to your environment and scanning for threats. So it will take some time, but as they begin to feel safe in your home/family, I would try to make time to teach them to play. Which will mean you have to actually play with them. It's getting to the developmental age they are in that area rather than the actual age. You have to sit down and play with 1 and 2 year olds. That's how they learn to do it. You have to introduce playing house or whatever. Well, I guess you don't always have to do it with younger siblings because they pick up play skills from older brothers and sisters. But, with oldest kids or toddlers whose older siblings are already gone to school. I know I am kind of rambling, but hopefully something in their will be helpful to you.
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Old 03-30-2014, 09:43 AM   #5
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Re: Need advice on foster children's behavior

We had a foster child (age 3-4 while with us) who also did not know how to play. She was with us for 15 mos and by the time she went home, she could play really well, both by herself and with other kids. We have a child very close in age to FD, and DD basically taught FD how to play by playing with her. We also spent a lot of time playing with her and the other kids and helping her learn how to play.

Also, our agency recently did a training, based in part on this book: The Whole Brain Child There was a lot of really helpful stuff on dealing with various behaviors. Hope that helps!
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Old 03-31-2014, 08:59 AM   #6
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Re: Need advice on foster children's behavior

Thank you for all of the advice and experiences. I will try to get on later and write more!
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Old 04-01-2014, 05:16 PM   #7
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My now adopted 6 yo came to live with us at age 4 as a foster placement. He didn't know how to play at all. After working with him a lot for the past 2 years, he knows how to play now. But, he still doesn't enjoy it. He will play with other kids because he wants to have friends, or at home because we have enforced play time. But, his brain is wired so that the only play he actually enjoys is sports. It takes a lot of work and teaching how to play for some kids. My 6 yo, still can't play as creatively or independently as my 14 month.

Hope some of that made sense. Your foster kids may need a lot of patience, but they're still young as can learn.

Last edited by Katiesara; 04-01-2014 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 04-01-2014, 05:20 PM   #8
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Also, about the baby. Drug exposure can be so different. My 2 yo was drug exposed, came to us at 6 months. He is super smart and ended up with no long term effects other than physical growth, he's jut tiny from it all.
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