Register your interest

    If you would like to register your interest in fostering, please complete the form below. We will get back to you shortly to discuss next steps.

    Have you applied to foster before?

    YesNo

    Do you have a spare room?

    YesNo

    We will contact you, using your preferred contact details, as soon as possible.

      Transfer to EFS

      Existing foster carers sometimes approach us because they want to transfer from their existing fostering provider. If you are not happy with the service you are currently receiving and would like to know more about transferring fostering provider, complete the form below and we will get back to you.

      Do you have a child in placement?

      YesNo

      We will contact you, using your preferred contact details, as soon as possible.

        Contact us

        If you have questions about fostering, please complete the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

        We will contact you, using your preferred contact details, as soon as possible.

        Managing challenging behaviours when fostering

        Extensive training and development
        Fostering allowance from £370 p/w
        Excellent support 24/7
        A friendly and highly experienced team

        Want to talk about fostering? We are now offering online private consultations, click here to arrange a slot.

        Lucy Stevens - 15th October 2021

        What are challenging behaviours and why might foster carers see these in the children they care for?

        The children who we care for are all individuals. They all have their strengths and wonderful personal qualities. Foster carers know how important it is to notice and to celebrate the many positive things about the children they are fostering. Often this is not difficult to do as they are all brimming with potential.

        However, because of the experiences many children in foster care have lived through, they may well display behaviours that can be challenging to manage. These might include:

        • Aggression – verbal or physical
        • Oppositional behaviour
        • Emotional dysregulation
        • Self-harm
        • Eating disorders
        • Dissociation
        • Sexualised behaviours
        • Issues with toileting
        • Issues with personal hygiene
        • Stealing or stockpiling food
        • Depression and anxiety
        • Risk taking behaviours
        • Behaviours associated with delayed development
        • Difficulties understanding or following instruction
        • Insomnia or nightmares
        • PTSD related behaviours
        • Anti-social behaviour
        • Inappropriate online behaviour
        • Difficulties establishing and maintaining relationships

        It’s important to note that these behaviours do not define the child and who they are at their core. Foster carers have the difficult task of managing and working with the child and professionals to reduce negative and dangerous behaviours whilst encouraging and developing the many wonderful aspects of who the child is.

        Many of the behaviours that foster carers see result from the experiences that children have had in their early lives. Children who are in foster care will have all experienced loss to one degree or another. They may have experienced neglectful or abusive parenting. It’s common for children in foster care to have been exposed to dangerous or frightening adults. Children may have had to carry a good deal of responsibility, caring for siblings or parents. Some children will have witnessed violence in the home or even on a wider scale in the form of war or terrorism. Lots of children will have seen and had to manage familial ill mental health, suicide or the death of family members.

        It is therefore not surprising that these children could present challenges for foster carers, particularly when they first come in to foster care. They are navigating the same difficulties as other children and young people growing up in our society, but they are doing so with complex histories and ongoing struggles with birth families as well as adjusting to a new home and new carers.

        For foster carers, it is important that they can understand, contextualise and manage these behaviours. Over-exposure to the distress they see in the children they care for and the nature of some of the resulting behaviours can have an impact on the Foster carers’ ability to care. It can affect their levels of empathy, their resilience and their motivation.

        Lady managing challenging behaviours

        How do foster carers manage difficult behaviours that they might see in children?

        The single most valuable thing a foster carer can learn to do is to get to know the real child. We effectively ask our foster carers to look past the behaviour and take the time, effort and strength to really find out who the child is.

        Being able to keep the real child in sight is so important. Carers need to be able to understand and contextualise why children do what they do. They do not ignore the behaviours, but it is important that it is not simply the behaviours that they see when they look at the child.

        When trying to deal with difficult behaviour, there are many things that can help children and foster carers:

        • Consistency – a lot of children will not have been able to rely on their caregivers to meet their needs. They will be expecting their foster carer to be the same. Foster carers should not underestimate the importance of showing up day after day. Saying and doing the same things, being present, being emotionally available. All of these things over time will help children to feel secure. Many behaviours will naturally reduce as children feel safe.
        • Trust – children will need to know they can trust you. This is closely linked to consistency. As a foster carer, it is even more important to be true to your word. Children need to see that you will do what you say you will and that you don’t make promises to them that you can’t keep. Children require and often respond well to honesty and authenticity.
        • Boundaries – though many children will push against them with all their might, boundaries form a massive part of the foster carer toolkit. These boundaries must be well-thought-out, clearly explained, fair and reasonable. If appropriate, older children should be included in the conversations about boundaries. Foster carers can compromise on many areas and allow the child to feel empowered in their own lives. Of course, many boundaries are not open for negotiation and it is important that foster carers can fight the right battles.
        • Advocacy – Foster carers are often the best placed professionals in the child’s life to advocate for the needs of children. Some behaviours that foster carers are managing at home might be indicative of trauma, underlying mental health or unidentified educational needs. Ensuring that the children are able to receive the right support is critical in helping children to overcome.
        • Nurture – children need love. To know and feel that you are loved is incredibly healing. To know that you are loved and cared for when you have been fully seen, warts and all, has the power to transform. For foster carers, it is not always easy. At times you may have to provide the nurture when you’re feeling tired and discouraged. It’s times like these when foster carers need to lean on their own support network.
        • Support. One of the first things we ask foster carers is what their support network is like. Do they have close family and friends? This network is critical to successful fostering. But support isn’t just restricted to those in your personal support network. All foster carers will have a supervising social worker through the fostering provider who should see you frequently and should provide a listening ear, advice and moral support. They should also advocate for you and help you to care for yourself. In addition to this, it is really helpful to be part of a fostering community. Coffee mornings or carer support groups are a great way to offload and share strategies. It really helps when people can understand first-hand where you are coming from. Other foster carers offer a unique source of support.
        • Self care – foster carers need to ensure that they are investing in their own well-being. This might be building in a walk each day, finding time for a hot bath or seeing friends and family on your own. Creating your own safe spaces is an important way to being able to maintain the safe space you are offering others.
        • Training. Fostering providers should offer a range of training for foster carers. Foster carers should also be able to request training as and when situations arise in which they feel they need more support and guidance. Training should form an important part of the supervision you receive from your supervising social worker. Training courses not only offer specialist support in all areas of fostering but they offer also an opportunity to come together with other foster carers and share experiences and knowledge.

        Maintaining hope for the future.

        The behaviours many foster carers see when children first come into their care reduce over time, often very significantly. This can be really rewarding for foster carers and liberating for children as they start to reach their potential. It’s important that foster carers who have shown themselves to be consistent, trustworthy, responsive and nurturing understand that they represent a safe space for children and young people. This is a very positive thing for the child. During difficult times in life, behaviours can reappear as they represent a coping mechanism for children. These behaviours are often played out in the safe spaces, which can be a double-edged sword for foster carers. It’s really important that foster carers are able to get perspective; to look outside of the home and look at other areas of the child’s life. How are they at school? How are they in their leisure? How are they coping with peers and other key relationships? Whilst carers might at times feel their children are regressing, they may actually be coping well in many areas of life. Equally there may be issues elsewhere which are manifesting in the safe space at home. Remembering the child, their experiences, their coping strategies and gaining an objective perspective can be helpful for foster carers. It’s easy to feel discouraged; so carers should be supported to see the positive changes and therefore have hope for the future.

        To find out a bit more about how we support our foster carers in the amazing work they do, you can get lots of useful information on our website.

        If you are interested in fostering you can contact us via our website, Facebook or you can email us at team@easternfosteringservices.com

        We’re always pleased to answer any questions you may have about fostering.

        Apply to foster
        Transfer to us
        Contact us

          Register your interest

          If you would like to register your interest in fostering, please complete the form below. We will get back to you shortly to discuss next steps.

          Have you applied to foster before?

          YesNo

          Do you have a spare room?

          YesNo

          We will contact you, using your preferred contact details, as soon as possible.

          Make a report to one of CEOP's Child Protection Advisors. If you are worried about online abuse or the way someone has been communicating online, let CEOP know

            Transfer to EFS

            Existing foster carers sometimes approach us because they want to transfer from their existing fostering provider. If you are not happy with the service you are currently receiving and would like to know more about transferring fostering provider, complete the form below and we will get back to you.

            Do you have a child in placement?

            YesNo

            We will contact you, using your preferred contact details, as soon as possible.

            Make a report to one of CEOP's Child Protection Advisors. If you are worried about online abuse or the way someone has been communicating online, let CEOP know

              Contact us

              If you have questions about fostering, please complete the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

              We will contact you, using your preferred contact details, as soon as possible.

              Make a report to one of CEOP's Child Protection Advisors. If you are worried about online abuse or the way someone has been communicating online, let CEOP know
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